Vigilante justice needed over Lions club blackface debacle - Hone Harawira

Former MP Hone Harawira is calling for vigilante justice after seeing images of people participating in a Taranaki A&P parade in blackface.

The Hawera Mt View Lions Club's float at the Taranaki town's A&P parade on Friday evening featured half-a-dozen people with their faces painted black, surrounded by black and white balloons.

The club initially defended the face paint, writing on Facebook the float was a "representation of all cultures", before replacing that post with a short apology, and eventually closing the page altogether.

Mr Harawira told Newshub he wasn't there to see the parade in person, but saw photos of the float on Facebook. He said it was unacceptable to see such a blatant use of blackface in 2018.

"Blackface down the main street of a major provincial town in this country. You'd think you shouldn't have to do this stuff anymore, and yet they carry on," he told Newshub.

"If... my friends who are academic are going to get outraged by what's happened here and are going to write screeds and screeds of letters and submissions and complaints etcetera, etcetera, you know sometimes it's easier in my view to just to stop the trail and give them a good f**king hiding. Put an end to it right there and then."

Mr Harawira said a written response was all well and good, but the Lions club needed to learn from people face-to-face about what they had done wrong.

"Maybe some of the boys down there need to get together and chat to these fellas," he said.

"Make it absolutely clear that if they want to celebrate cultural diversity, well run around as Dutchmen, run around as Englishman, run around as Neanderthals, which is probably more appropriate.

"Run around as anything they like, but don't run around in blackface."

A representative for the parade refused to comment when called.

An apology from the Lions


In a statement supplied to Newshub later on Saturday morning, the club said it "got this wrong".

"We sincerely apologise for our choice of float," said president Steph Jordan.

"It was never our intention to offend anyone. We got this wrong. We were naive. We are really disappointed in ourselves. We are a voluntary organisation that is involved in many projects that help people make our community better.

"We have learnt a big lesson from this and will be more aware of these sorts of things going forward.