Harawira lecture axed because of 'redneck racism'

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 17:14 12/05/2011
John Selkirk

Hone Harawira discusses cancellation of lecture. By John Selkirk.

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Hone Harawira says "redneck" racism is to blame for the last-minute cancellation of a lecture he was to give in Auckland today.

The Mana Party leader was due to speak about the foreshore and seabed at  Auckland University Law School.

"All of the rednecks at the university decided to create such a ruckus that the Law School cancelled it. In 2011 we're still being pushed around," Harawira said.

A Facebook page set up to promote the event attracted abusive and angry comments from both supporters of Harawira and the protesters who were against him.

Asked why this was an example of racism, Harawira said there were only Pakeha involved in the protest planned at Auckland University.

"A lot of people think that racism is dead and buried but clearly it's not. I'm a Maori MP and I should have the right to talk to Maori law students."

Racism was more widespread than many New Zealanders liked to believe, he said.

"That's unfortunate, but it's true.  I think what's happening at Auckland University is an example of that. I'm not fussed by that."

Mr Harawira made the accusation during a political debate at the Maori Expo in Auckland.

The Expo brought together Maori MPs from the five main Parties, including Northland Labour list MP Kelvin Davis who planned to stand against Harawira in the upcoming Te Tai Tokerau byelection.

Davis said there was racism on both sides of the fence - it was not just Pakeha rednecks.

Disappointed Maori students organised an alternative lecture due to be held at the Auckland University Marae at 7pm. It is understood this new lecture is not affiliated with the Faculty of Law.

Law student Charlotte Summers said the Faculty of Law cancelled the lecture on the basis of "there may be a breach of the peace".  

She said the Young Nationals organisation  was behind the protest.

"How is it fair that the Young Nats decide to be disruptive, threaten to be disruptive, and then an entire event is cancelled because of their choices and what they threaten to do?"

"There is a time and a place for protest - an academic lecture is not that time nor place."

However, the Young Nationals denied any involvement in the protest.

President Daniel Fielding said although some Young National members were planning to attend the protest, it was a cross section of students involved.

Auckland University's Faculty of Law would not comment on why the the lecture was cancelled.

Professor Margaret Mutu, from the Maori Studies Department, took responsibility for organising an alternative lecture at the marae.

Some students were hurt by racist comments made by protestors online, but they would still hold the lecture regardless of whether there was a protest at the marae.

The alternative lecture was not affiliated with the Faculty of Law.

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