Dunedin mayoral candidate Carmen Houlahan pleads for respect after 'racist comment'

Dunedin mayoral candidate Carmen Houlahan pleads for respect after 'racist comment'
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A Dunedin mayoral candidate has made an impassioned plea for people to treat each other with respect after being subject to a "racist comment" online.

On Friday, Carmen Houlahan released a statement saying she had long recognised how "brutal" people can be towards each other on social media, but it reached a "tipping point" for her recently after a "racist comment".

After stating online that her iwi was Ngai Tahu, someone commented: "Nice, our city infrastructure is old and you will fix that, hope your putting your money into that or if elected will you put our rates up while you sit back on your iwi ass getting your monthly payment from them, living the good life on your ideas?"

She said a woman came to her defence, but another person said those who put themselves forward for public service should expect to be get spoken to like that.

"I read the comment again and thought, you know, that is not acceptable and candidates do not deserve to be spoken to like this," Houlahan said in her statement.

Houlahan replied to the comments by saying: "I am also French, Irish and of course a [New Zealander] above all. I hope all those 'asses', as you put it, sit down at the Council table."

The candidate said she worries "social media abuse" might put younger candidates off getting involved in politics.

"All respect seems to go out the window. I have spoken to other candidates who say comments have been brutal," she said.

"Local Government candidates are everyday people who are very brave to put themselves forward to represent their city and they deserve to be treated with respect."

She pleaded for people - in politics or not - to treat each other with respect. 

"People think that because it is online they can say whatever they like. I do not think this reflects poorly on candidates. Candidates deserve better."

Houlahan is also running for Dunedin City Council.

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