New Plymouth councillor 'ashamed' to sing national anthem in Te Reo

A New Plymouth District Councillor says he's "too ashamed" to sing the national anthem in te reo Māori.

Murray Chong replied to a Facebook post made by friend Steve West which asked people to name a "song you are ashamed of singing". While other commenters suggested Kelis' 'Milkshake' or Dance Exponents' 'Victoria', Mr Chong's answer was a little different.

"The Te Reo version of the NZ national anthem," he wrote.

New Plymouth councillor 'ashamed' to sing national anthem in Te Reo
Photo credit: Steve West / Facebook

When asked if he felt threatened by the 'E Ihowā' verse of 'God Defend New Zealand', Mr Chong said no.

"I just only need to sing the original version," he explained.

"If we all have to be made to sing the anthem in two languages, then the haka should be sung in two languages too."

'E Ihowā Atua' was written in 1878, just two years after 'God Defend New Zealand' was first performed. The lyrics, which aren't a direct translation of the anthem, are commonly sung before the English verse.

It's not Mr Chong's first race-related controversy. In November 2018 he told NZME that he flew the Confederate flag (regarded as a pro-slavery symbol) during New Plymouth's Americarna festival.

In the same radio interview he also defended the Hawera group who wore blackface in an A&P parade.

In 2015 Mr Chong was criticised by Mayor Andrew Judd for making fun of Asian accents, and in 2017 he referred to National and Labour as "Natori" and "Labori" in disparaging reference to the amount of money being spent on te reo Māori.

Mr Chong has been approached for comment regarding his remarks on Facebook.