A businessman is unrepentant after forwarding a racially
charged email to a Dunedin school over its decision to fly
Geoff Portman told the Otago Daily Times he was so incensed
to see North East Valley Normal School flying "the so-called
Maori flags" he sent the school the following email:"I am a
concerned citizen, when I see the mixed array of flags that
are hoisted every school morning outside the NEV School. Talk
about mixed messages, when what this country needs is some
national pride and a sense of belonging.
"I suggest you read the attached message, and then review
your confused teaching."
The attached email, from an acquaintance, titled "I wish I
was a Maori", says Maori have special privileges, such as
organisations and services, and ends with: "It's not a crime
to be white YET ... but getting very close."
Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu Otakou representative Tahu Potiki said
he was "surprised that supposedly educated community and
business leaders would get into such ignorant behaviour".
"The information is so erroneous, loaded and one-sided and
many of those things can be disproven. I understand people
can have attitudes worked up over time about the place of
Maori in New Zealand society, but as as a community we have
moved well beyond this sort of [rubbish]."
Mr Portman, a manager with Export Link Otago, said he stood
by his comments but regretted forwarding the email as it had
the name of the person who had sent it to him.
That person had been the subject of abuse and received a
written warning from his company, he said.
He admitted the forwarded email "was a bit inflammatory" in
parts, including the lines: "You rob us, convert our cars,
rape our women and bash our elderly.
But if a white police officer shoots a Maori or a Maori gang
member, or assaults a Maori criminal running from the law and
posing a threat to society, you scream racism."
Mr Portman said he sent the email because the school
principal was against National Standards but was "teaching
all this Maori culture, which is basically culture that's
been made up as it goes along".
He had sent the email in good faith and on behalf of his
local community, and had hoped the flags would be taken down.
"We are all one people here and this division is not good for
When asked if he was Maori, Mr Portman said he had
connections with Waitaha but had chosen not to enrol with the
Asked if he had Maori blood, he replied: "I guess I have."
North East Valley Normal School board of trustees chairman
Steve O'Connor said the school flew flags that represented
the diversity within the school, and would continue to do so.
"We are a diverse community. We recognise that and we
celebrate it and we want our kids growing up in the
atmosphere of doing the same."
Mr Potiki said schools should be allowed to fly flags such as
the tino rangatiratanga, as it was "an accurate reflection of
where our community has evolved to. Kids are so much more
aware of Maori culture, Maori language, the history of New
Zealand. It is really very very good, and to have some guy
drag us back to the dark ages ... it needs to be challenged."