Revealed: The threats that shut down Don Brash's Massey University event

The Facebook comments that convinced Massey University to cancel an event at which Don Brash was due to speak have been revealed.

The former National Party leader and founder of treaty lobby group Hobson's Pledge was invited to speak at Massey's Manawatu campus on Wednesday as part of a series of political talks.

On Tuesday, Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas called off the event because of what she called "security concerns" - a move which has since been criticised by politicians including Chris Hipkins, Paula Bennett and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"I made the decision - it was not an easy decision at all - based on my concern for potential violence on our campus," she told RadioLIVE hosts Ryan Bridge and Christine Rankin.

Vice Chancellor Thomas mentioned seeing threatening comments about the event on social media, although declined to go into specifics other than saying one person had mentioned bringing a gun to campus.

Newshub has learned that two specific Facebook comments prompted the cancellation.

One was a post on August 3 by a Palmerston North man believed to be a member of the Stormtroopers gang. He posted a link to the event page with the caption, "This guy lol...if your [sic] up to nothing wensday [sic] head up to massey uni," accompanied by a laughing emoji and a red circle with a cross through it.

The offending Facebook post and comment.
The offending Facebook post and comment. Photo credit: Facebook

The second concerning remark was a Rotorua man's comment on that same post, which simply read: "Take a gun."

Massey University corporate communications director says those comments were considered "enough red flags to tip the balance" in the eyes of the Vice Chancellor.

He told Newshub that Massey University did alert the police about the comments, but by that point they had already decided to cancel the event because they "needed to act quickly".

Dr Brash said he was "appalled" at the university's decision, which he believes was motivated by comments he's made in the past about "Māori privilege", the use of Te Reo in public broadcasting and his beliefs about the Treaty of Waitangi.

Vice Chancellor Thomas told RadioLIVE that Dr Brash's views are incompatible with Massey, which undertook a new initiative in 2017 to communicate that the university is "Te Tiriti o Waitangi-led".