University of Auckland blames reports of white supremacists on 'increased awareness'

The University of Auckland says Thursday was the first time it's received formal complaints about white supremacist activity on campus.

Social media this week has been rife with claims of "fascist" posters and stickers going up, supremacist messages being written in chalk, people walking around with visible swastika tattoos, and even threats to "gas" other students.

"You know they've made terrorist threats to our workspaces, when they do come into our workspaces they go out of their way to physically intimidate ethnic minorities, women, trans people," one student told RNZ.

Others claimed they'd called security about the presence of one particular student who allegedly holds Nazi views, but nothing was done.

The allegations come less than a month after a suspected white nationalist allegedly gunned down 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch.

The university said there would be "an increased awareness of racism and offensive behaviour" following the attacks, but authorities hadn't seen any increase in suspicious or offensive activity on campus.

"Any offensive propaganda, including graffiti, is always quickly removed and we are not aware of significantly increased incidences of this in the past month," a spokesperson told Newshub.

"While we will not accept harassment or abuse in any form, we have an obligation under natural justice to follow agreed and shared protocol. For the first time [on Thursday] the university received a number of formal complaints about the behaviour of a current student. We were able to and have acted on these."

The University of Auckland.
The University of Auckland. Photo credit: File

One student told RNZ some of those involved in spreading white supremacist messages around campus were involved in the ill-fated Auckland University European Students Association, which in 2017 caused outrage when it quoted Nazi paramilitary organisation Shutzstaffel, better known as the SS, in a Facebook post.

The group, which had approval to host a stall at that year's O-Week celebrations, formally disbanded a day later.

Police told Newshub they attended the university on Thursday after reports of a bomb threat, but "discovered that this was not the case" and took no action.

Newshub has also asked the university to confirm or deny RNZ's report there have been complaints laid against one of the alleged supremacists named on social media dating back to 2013, contrary to what the university said in its statement.