Police could be accused of playing the Grinch after chastising an Auckland politician for riding pillion on a motorbike in her local Santa parade without a helmet.
Papakura local board chairwoman Hine Tahere-Joyce says police were an unwitting part of a political stunt designed to embarrass her, and asked: "Will this stop all Santa parades?"
Tahere-Joyce rode behind local Maori Warden chairman Richard Noble on his Harley in last Sunday's parade through the South Auckland town - but says plenty of others, including children, did the same and only she was singled out.
"I wasn't wearing a helmet - neither were the other Harley riders, neither were the children on the back of others - but the road was closed and most of the time my rider was walking his bike along," she said. "If it was on an ordinary road, there would be several breaches of traffic law - from children on the back of trucks to riding on the wrong side of the road. Will this stop all the Santa parades?"
A sternly worded letter from local police inspector Jason Malcolm was tabled at a public board meeting last Wednesday by Tahere-Joyce's deputy, Brent Catchpole, who demanded she apologise.
He wasn't at the parade, but said it was a "bad image". "You are portraying to children who will then get on their bicycles and ride and say ‘it's all right for those in the Santa parade so it's all right for me'."
Inspector Malcolm warned Tahere-Joyce it was illegal to ride without a helmet and he'd been "made aware from a number of sources who were concerned at the lack of judgment and safety standards involved".
- Sunday Star Times