Māori man told to 'speak English' during public meeting - report

A crowd abused a Māori man and told him to "speak English" during a public meeting in the Hawke's Bay on Monday.

The man was saying a mihi for the meeting on a local rehabilitation initiative when the jeers from the crowd began, NZME reports.

At least two people yelled at him to speak English and another person called out "we can't f**king understand you".

A voice from the crowd told the man to hurry up when they were told he would speak English after his formal greeting.

The meeting was about a proposed residential programme for Māori women who have been in prison, E Hine, to be run at the Te Waireka residential facility in Otane.

Locals are concerned about the programme due to past experiences with a residential drug rehabilitation centre for youth that was run at the facility.

They also complained about a lack of consultation on the project.

Organisers said they gave notice about the programme as soon as possible, but had not been able to make a formal announcement until the contract with corrections was signed 10 days ago.

They said the women who would become part of the programme will have either finished their sentence, or have not been sentenced to prison at all.

"They will be under supervision 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they will have a very full timetable of activities learning life skills, budgeting, cooking, fitness and nutrition, "chief operating officer Waylyn Tauhiri-Whaipakanga told the meeting, NZME reports.