A Hutt City council mayoral candidate has been targeted by a racist and sexist letter, sent anonymously, questioning her eligibility "to stand as a candidate".
The demeaning letter was sent to Shazly Rasheed, an independent candidate for the Hutt City council election. Rasheed shared the letter to her Facebook on Thursday morning, captioning the post: "Just when you thought this election couldn't get any [more] ugly".
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The local business owner, originally from the Maldives, is running for council for the first time. Despite Rasheed living in Lower Hutt for 20 years, the writer felt compelled to question the ability of "a foreigner" to represent the city.
"I question your eligibility. I think we need to have strict rules and more evidence-based on the eligibility for immigrants to stand," the letter starts.
The note then develops into a tirade, telling the mother-of-two to "go back to the country you came from".
"You look and sound like you have only been in this country for 5 minutes but you seem to think you can represent us. How would a foreigner ever understand the issues facing our city and our country?
"We don't need people like you telling us how to live our life. I am getting a bit sick of immigrants and feminists telling me what is best for me, my family and my country.
"Stick to [being] a mother... that might be the second-best option if you don't want to go back to where you came from".
The letter finishes with the capitalised statement, "We don't need you lot", signed by "a concerned Kiwi".
Rasheed's campaign boards have also been repeatedly vandalised across the area.
A large number of people have shared their support for Rasheed on social media, with Lower Hutt locals defending her work in the area.
"Shazly has lived and worked and run a business which employs all the locals, and she has a heart of gold with Lower Hutt's best interests," one man wrote.
Rasheed runs an award-winning hair and beauty salon, Shazly Experience, and is a founding member of the Southern End Business Group, which focuses on the revitalisation of the Hutt City centre.
National MP for Hutt South, Chris Bishop, has since shared a scathing post on Facebook in response to the anonymous letter.
"This is just disgusting," Bishop wrote on Thursday morning.
"[Shazly Rasheed] is a New Zealand citizen. No guts to even put [a] name to [their] racism and sexism. Just breaks my heart to see people in the Hutt behave like this.
"Kia Kaha Shazly and keep your head held high. There are lots of people behind you."