No offence meant by 'zombie walk' - organisers

BY KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 12:39 15/10/2010
Zombie walk in Sitges
Associated Press
THE OTHER SIDE: People dressed as zombies participate in the zombie walk in Sitges, Spain, in October this year.

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New Zealand's brain injury charity says it didn't mean to cause offence by planning a "zombie walk" to raise money for victims of brain damage.

The charity and the event's organisers have come under fire after inviting participants to dress up and "channel their inner zombie", declaring "seeing zombies have been eating brains all these years, we figured it's time we gave back".

The highlight of the fundraiser, to be held in Rotorua later this month, will be a "flash mob" zombie dance to the tune of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" down the main street.

Both broadcaster TVNZ and Rotorua's Daily Post newspaper say they have received complaints from people with brain injuries, saying they were "horrified" at being linked to shuffling corpses returned from the grave.

Discussion forums on the Trade Me website are also riddled with criticism of the event.

But Brain Injury New Zealand president John Clough said no offence was intended and they certainly were not likening brain injury patients to the undead.

"The zombie is a fictional character in horror movies that does not exist," Clough said.

"The organisers have just tried to capture people's imaginations to raise money, not to offend anyone. It's very hard to convince people to part with their hard-earned cash and this is just one way of getting attention," Clough said.

Event organiser Layla Robinson said neither she nor Brain Injury New Zealand had received a complaint.

"I was pretty despondent yesterday when I heard about the complaints, especially when we thought some sponsors were going to pull out - thankfully we've talked to them and they're not," Robinson said.

She said that she was a horror movie buff and thought it would be "a bit of fun" to combine pop culture with a good cause.

"We didn't mean to cause offence, no way. I hadn't even thought about the link side of it," she said.

"I've met seven people personally with brain injuries who have come and registered in my store. Just yesterday a lady with a brain injury came in and registered her whole family."

"I know why I'm doing it and it's not to upset people. I just have some pretty weird and wonderful taste."

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