Jewish community slams Canterbury store owner for displaying swastika symbol

An auto store owner in Canterbury's Waimate has displayed a swastika symbol.
An auto store owner in Canterbury's Waimate has displayed a swastika symbol. Photo credit: Supplied by Jake Rayner

The Jewish community are outraged after a Canterbury auto store owner displayed a swastika sign. 

The sign, representing the German Nazi party, is currently seen on Waimate's Rayner Autos.

People in the community have shared their frustration online and offered to remove the sign.

However, the auto store's owner has defended the sign, saying it's "not about racism".

Police confirmed they had received a complaint "regarding signs displaying a swastika on a building on the corner of Slee and Shearman streets on Monday". 

"This imagery has no place in the community," a spokesperson told Newshub. 

"The Waimate District Council has engaged with the person responsible to have the signs removed." 

"Police will not be taking further action at this time." 

Waimate District Council's Regulatory and Compliance Group Manager Dylan Murray told Newshub they are aware of the signage and have received "several complaints". 

"We are working with the building owner to resolve the matter," Murray said. 

A woman living in Waimate, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she finds the sign "distasteful".

"If you google search the picture it just comes up with Nazi stuff," she told Newshub.

"The owner of the workshop has given no one the reason for his sign."

She said she saw a flag with a swastika on it at the camping grounds of the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NCMCA).

"We have a lot of old people in Waimate, we believe it's from the same person," she said.

"Is it really the right kind of sign to have on a business wall?"

New Zealand Jewish Council spokesperson Juliet Moses told Newshub the sign is "insensitive". 

"Obviously this kind of stuff does happen from time to time, it is very insensitive obviously not just to the Jewish community and other communities that were victim to the Nazis but also to soldiers and their families who fought the Nazis during the second world war," Moses said. 

"It's a symbol of hate, it's got a very clear message, certainly one that Jewish people understand to mean that they have no place in the world," she said.  

"It's not illegal per say to display a swastika in New Zealand but I hope that there might be some resolution to it being removed." 

Moses said she's aware the man who put it up isn't ashamed of it. 

"I think that is a very sad reflection on him really, and I don't know if he's ignorant or if he knows very well what the history of the swastika is and the Nazis or if he's just a malevolent person," she said. 

"If he is just ignorant you would hope that through education and dialogue, he might see the error in his ways but if he's a malevolent person I doubt he will." 

Newshub contacted the store owner, Jake Rayner, who said the sign has "nothing to do with the Jewish people or racism".

"Me putting the sign up isn't about me or my views at all, it's not meant to be offensive," he said.

"I've had no comments from the Jewish community, but I've had a few thumbs up from people supporting it."

Rayner said the sign "is not about racism at all".

"The Council have asked me to remove it and I'll take it down eventually, it won't be up there permanently," he said. "It will be down by Friday".