Teenage political hopeful called 'fat' and 'illiterate' in abusive message
A teenage political hopeful has discovered the dirty side of politics after receiving hate mail accusing her of being fat and illiterate.
Hannah Street, 19, was the youngest candidate to run for the council in Horowhenua, but her first foray into politics left a bad taste in her mouth when she was sent the abusive missives.
Despite that, she says the nasty messages haven't put her off and she will stand again at the next election.
The abuse was written on campaign flyers Street and her mother Amanda, a Foxton Community Board candidate, delivered around the town.
READ MORE: Teen runs for Horowhenua District Council
Neither of them won their seats. Hannah Street came sixth and last in the Kere Kere ward, getting 383 votes. Amanda Street missed out on a board spot by one vote, getting 903 ticks.
The messages read: "My letterbox is printed 'no advertising' – you ignore. The tenancy agreement stated no dogs – you ignore. We do not want fat illiterate woman (sic) representing us."
Another message said: "Fatty – were the dogs yours?"
Street believed she was confused with Amanda Stewart, the woman who let dogs urinate and defecate in a Foxton rental property and who won a Tenancy Tribunal case meaning she did not have to pay for the damages.
"That [the message] really, really got to me, because that's a personal attack, and I don't believe in things like that," Street said.
"I think it's pathetic.
"You put yourself out there, but when it is venomous personal attacks, I don't think people should get away with it. Especially when they should know better. It is petty.
"Sure when you put yourself up for politics you're supposed to deal with these things. But I don't think you should have to deal with bullying."
She had lodged a complaint with the police and has suspicions, backed up by an expert opinion from a handwriting specialist, about who was responsible. However, Street could not provide solid evidence to back her claims.
"Everyone I showed it to was appalled. They were like, 'we've never known politics in Foxton and Horowhenua to be like this.' It was dirty."
Street said intimidation like this put young people off politics.
"When we put ourselves out there, this happens. That's why we don't want to get involved. We get our names tarnished."
Palmerston North City councillor Aleisha Rutherford was 24 when she was elected and said it was "disgusting" to see this happen to a young person looking to get into politics.
"It does not matter what your age is, it takes so much to put yourself out there."
Rutherford said she had received inappropriate messages via her Facebook page and encouraged Street not to be put off.
"In the words of Taylor Swift; haters gonna hate, hate, hate. Sometime you do have to persevere.
"I'd love to see her put her name forward in three years time."
Young people often came under more scrutiny because of their age, Rutherford said.
"The first barrier is proving that their age is not anything to hold them back.
"The more [young] people who put their hand up, the more normal it will be."