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Devoy backs woman wrongly accused of shoplifting

Last updated 05:00 04/09/2014
Susan Devoy
RACE RELATIONS COMMISSIONER: Dame Susan Devoy.

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Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy has praised the South Auckland mother of four who went public after humiliating treatment by staff at The Warehouse.

Irie Te Wehi-Takerei was wrongfully accused of shoplifting at The Warehouse near Auckland Airport.

Dame Susan said Wehi-Takerei did nothing wrong and was publicly humiliated by Warehouse staff.

"Even when it was clear she did nothing wrong, she had to ask for an apology," Dame Susan said.

"This is not good enough. While it's positive The Warehouse eventually made amends, it's disappointing that they only did so because of Irie's own determination."

A month ago Hamilton woman Rikki Cooper was racially profiled while shopping at her local Countdown store.

Wehi-Takerei said hearing what Cooper went through helped her make the decision to go public with her own story.

Dame Susan has urged organisations and companies like The Warehouse "to do the right thing and to train their staff about how to treat people with respect: it's not much to ask".

"It is up to individuals. Everyday New Zealanders need to ask themselves: am I treating these people with respect? Would I want my mother or child to be treated like this?

"It's not an easy thing to go public about being belittled and shamed.

"We should be very grateful for New Zealanders like Irie and Rikki who tell their stories because they do so on all our behalf."

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- Manukau Courier

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