Patrick Gower: 'I was ashamed and embarrassed... I've not done one story on white supremacy'

OPINION: People often say "thank you" to journalists for covering a story.

After Christchurch, Muslims were coming up to me saying thank you, thank you so much for what you've done for us.

But this time, it affected me differently.

I was ashamed and embarrassed.

Over the years, I've reported on threats to New Zealanders, like Islamic State, the GFC, earthquakes and climate change.

And stories where the threats were overblown like Y2K, or Judith Collins becoming leader of the National Party.

But in 20 years, I've not done one story on white supremacy.

Honestly, me and many other Kiwi journos didn't see it as a real threat.

This was an American problem, or European problem.

But like fashion trends, we all know NZ is always just a few seasons behind the world. Of course it was going to come here.

To many of us white supremacists were a punchline. Like some racist uncle you saw at family reunions.

But, I should've known.

I should have known there are heaps of uncles, and nephews, and aunts, and sons and while we laughed, they just got stronger. And armed.

I should've known last year, before sitting down with Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern.

I underestimated them, I was underprepared and they steamrolled me.

I should've known the stuff I've heard just the past few weeks.. the voices in white supremacist chat rooms and on far-right podcasts spit this vile stuff with Kiwi accents

I should've known terms like "Identitarians" or "Replacement Theory" or "Accelerationism"

But I didn't know. Because we didn't look into it.

You should've known too and, if you don't, then I have failed you.

It's time to get this right. It won't make up for past but might stop future threats coming at us like a freight train.

I get it now, and I promise to do better.

And to all the young journos: these guys are a real threat to New Zealand.

Dig in, investigate, and don't make the same mistakes I did.

Do your job.

And, I'll tell you another thing- I'm ready for a rematch with Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern.

Patrick Gower is Newshub’s National Correspondent