Motelier hurls further insults

00:23, Apr 23 2009
Donnelly
SALE: Owner Steve Donnelly. The motel made world headlines in April when it issued a blanket ban against guests from Wainuiomata.

The manager of the Palmerston North motel that has banned the entire populace of Wainuiomata told Maori guests the motel "is not a marae or a Housing New Zealand home".

A former guest has accused Supreme Motor Lodge manager Malcolm Glen, who is described on the motel's website as a "Basil Fawlty" after the John Cleese character, of racism.

However, owner Steve Donnelly is unrepentant, saying he would turf out "beautiful golden-haired white boys" if they misbehaved.

A woman who stayed at Supreme Motor Lodge with members of the Wainuiomata Indoor Sports Club contacted the Dominion Post after reading about the ban in yesterday's paper.

Michelle Green said Mr Glen approached her group of four guests including All Black Piri Weepu's father and told them "you Maoris can't treat this like a Housing New Zealand estate".

When confronted about the remarks yesterday, Mr Glen denied using the word "Maoris".

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"What I said was: 'This is my motel room, it is not a marae or a Housing New Zealand home'."

Regardless of the exact wording, Ms Green said she could not believe what she heard.

"In this day and age, please it was really just bizarre."

She had been offended but had not laid an official complaint.

Mr Donnelly said he did not believe his manager had done or said anything wrong.

"At the end of the day, if we had a number of rooms with Maori people staying together ... and they treat our place poorly, what is permitted?"

Under the Human Rights Act accommodation providers are prohibited from discriminating based on race.

Mr Donnelly said he had received calls of support as well as criticism, including calls from more than one Picton motelier saying they had the same rule about people from Wainuiomata.

However, he has not taken kindly to attacks on his own heritage. A remark by Labour MP Trevor Mallard that he was "not surprised the owner's Australian" sparked a wave of comments.

Australian Associated Press reported that Mr Donnelly was "furious" that New Zealanders were attacking him because of his heritage.

"Whenever something goes on that the Kiwis don't like, they seem to take great pleasure in pointing out the Australian connection," he said.

"But I don't get it. Is it that I'm nasty? Is it that I'm short-sighted or arrogant or intolerant, or what?

"Me being an Aussie has got absolutely nothing to do with the awful behaviour of these people, that's for certain".

HOMETOWN DEFENCE

Labour MP Trevor Mallard did his best to book into the motor lodge last night but found out its ban extends to the nation's elected representatives.

Mr Mallard was born and bred in Wainuiomata – and it's in his Hutt South electorate.

Watched by TV One's CloseUp cameras, he advanced to the lodge's reception last night and couldn't get in.

"The door's locked and the receptionist is moving away," Mr Mallard reported. "A gentleman is coming to the door. . .he looks grumpy."

It wasn't the Aussie owner who emerged but a large Scot who seemed to have authority over who could come in.

"As a Scotsman I don't have a vote, it doesn't matter to me, you're banned," he told the MP.

"Would you like me to write you a trespass note?"

Mr Mallard said he would, but he didn't get one.

What he did get was some more aggro from the unidentified Scotsman: "You're on my property, I've asked you to remove yourself."

Not wanting to break the law, Mr Mallard politely retreated.

Wainuiomata's loyal citizens are defending their hometown against claims local sports teams were unruly, rude and messy during trips to Palmerston North.

All Black Piri Weepu, whose father Bill stayed at the lodge with Wainuiomata Indoor Sports Club, spoke out yesterday.

"You can't just sort-of make accusations over small things and I'm pretty sure the students from Wainuiomata, they're not the type to wreck a place.

"It's pretty much treat the place that you're staying at with a bit of respect, like you would at home.

"I wasn't there, but I'm pretty sure that the local kids at Wainui high school wouldn't come out and vandalise a hotel just because someone's, I don't know, antagonising them."

On the streets of Wainuiomata, residents felt their town copped an unfair reputation.

University student Waipaina Ngata, 18, said it was silly to slam the whole town based on the actions of a few.

"When you tell people in [Wellington] where you come from they go 'ohhh', but it's a good, family-oriented community."

Milkman Bernard Eising was not too worried about what Palmerston North moteliers thought. "It's just people's opinions ... The people are awesome here, and it's all about the people."

High school pupil Umu Gage, 14, said the ban was "pretty sad". Wainuiomata had an unfair reputation, "to outsiders".

"It's pretty cool though. Everyone knows everyone and is friends with everyone else."

- With NZPA

The Dominion Post