Maori political leaders are calling on Urban Maori Authority chair Willie Jackson to pull his support for a visit by convicted rapist and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, saying his ''toxic'' message puts women at risk.
The 46-year-old American was due to come to New Zealand to perform a show in Auckland in November but immigration minister Kate Wilkinson cancelled his visa after Life Education Trust withdrew its support, saying it had been given in error by a well-meaning volunteer.
The visa was issued under a special direction because Tyson was barred from New Zealand after being sentenced to six years in prison for the 1991 rape of 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room. He continues to deny the crime.
He also spent time in prison in 1999 for assaulting two motorists in Maryland and infamously bit off part of fellow boxer Evander Holyfield's ear during a 1997 bout.
Tyson is reapplying for a visa to come here and was just granted entry to Australia where he also plans to tour his Day of the Champions show.
Jackson, who is also a broadcaster, has said he would support Tyson if he visited a south Auckland marae and spoke to young Maori there.
However, Greens co-leader Metiria Turei said Maori men needed to stand up for Maori women, ''not support an unrepentant misogynist who has had a rape conviction coming here to talk to young Maori men about how they should run their lives.
''He is not a role model and I am dismayed that Maori men would support Mike Tyson to come here... at a time when violence against women, particularly Maori women, is very high.''
Jackson and his Radio Live co-host, former Labour MP John Tamihere, needed to withdraw their support, she said.
Maori Party co-leader Dr Pita Sharples, who is a White Ribbon ambassador against male violence, agreed Tyson was no role model.
''I do not want Mike Tyson telling our kids that the way he deals with his serious crime of sexual violence is by blaming the victim."
Tyson's show was filled with sexist jokes and contempt for women, he said.
''Clearly he has not turned his life around at all. Instead he is using his speaking tours and associated publicity to try to maintain his past reputation as a bad guy and to justify his views and behaviour.''
There were plenty of New Zealand role models such as athletes, Sharples said.
"I think they offer a totally positive inspiration to our young people, and we can well do without Mike Tyson here spreading his toxic message."
Wilkinson is considering Tyson's reapplication.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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