King apologises for son's racist slur
The Maori King has been left shocked and disappointed by revelations his second-eldest son posted racist slurs on his Facebook page.
The Waikato Times understands the King let his son know of his displeasure after a December 2013 Facebook post emerged of a queue of Asian people with the accompanying comment: "All these chingy eyed c..ts."
The controversy comes the day after Korotangi Paki, 19, dodged conviction on drink-driving, theft and burglary charges which he had pleaded guilty to.
The media-shy King did not respond to the Times' request for an interview, but a Kingitanga spokesman said King Tuheitia apologised "unreservedly for any offence that the comments have caused".
"King Tuheitia does not condone racism in any shape or form and the ill-advised use of gang-related slogans can perhaps best be put down to the ignorance of youth," the spokesman said.
Radio Live posted images from Paki's Facebook page where he used the Nazi salute phrase "sieg heil", made racist slurs about a group of Asians, dressed in drag and used the shaka symbol at a backyard booze-up.
The spokesman said Paki was not a gang member or associated with gangs but Canterbury University sociologist Dr Jarrod Gilbert said the use of sieg heil and the shaka was an indication of influence.
"These symbols are not just associated with the Mongrel Mob, they are the Mongrel Mob," he said.
"If you are associating that [shaka] with sieg heil, the chances of it not being gang related are near nil."
In 2011, a Mongrel Mob member Fabian Hungahunga told a Napier District Court judge that sieg heil was "another way to say hi to the bros".
But Tukoroirangi Morgan, a spokesman for the King, brushed aside allegations of racism and gang association, saying only that Paki had to change.
"That Facebook page has been shut down because it needed to be shut down," he said. "Clearly there are hard lessons that need to be learned and there are a number of people around him now who will keep him accountable for his actions.
"That is a major consequence for the rest of his life," said Morgan.
"The whakama [shame] that comes with the results of his actions is a huge responsibility to carry."
He said Paki was full of remorse that he brought embarrassment on his father and his whanau and the Kingitanga.
The public backlash has been swift, with two Facebook pages calling for a conviction and "fair justice" to be served on the King's potential heir, just hours after the court ruling.
Paki's lawyer, Paul Wicks, successfully argued a conviction would be detrimental to his future role in the Kingitanga, but ascendancy to the throne was a matter to be discussed by tribal leaders.
Morgan said a community service plan, set in place by the father of a co-accused, was a significant step in the ruling. Paki's three co-accused in the theft and burglary - Te Ahorangi Totorewa, 20, Hamuera Wipoha Pugh, 19, and Raa Ngaru Smith, 18, all from the Waikato - were fined $400 and discharged without conviction in Gisborne District Court last week.
The four men pleaded guilty to a March incident where they stole surfboards from a holiday park and items and clothing from a car.
Judge Philippa Cunningham in the Auckland District Court lifted a suppression order on Paki's drink-driving charges. He was stopped in October 20 at 2.15am with a blood alcohol level of 761. The limit for driver under 20 years is zero.
Totorewa, Pugh and Smith did not ask for a discharge without conviction but Judge Geoffrey Rea used discretion after he considered the efforts the defendants and their families had gone to to make amends. They have completed a number of tasks in the plan, including an art work for Whakatane High School and panels for an East Coast Maori immersion school.
Morgan said Paki was given 120 hours' community work to complete and has 60 hours remaining. He has two years left to complete his degree and is expecting the birth of his child next month.
"All of those combined goes to try to enable him to be a better person," said Morgan. "He is at the cross roads of his life."