Nazi insult triggers call for deputy mayor of South Waikato to resign


South Waikato deputy mayor Bill Machen has been asked to resign after racially assaulting another city councilor (file photo)

Luke Kirkeby / Stuff

South Waikato deputy mayor Bill Machen has been asked to resign after racially assaulting another city councilor (file photo)

A formal complaint has been filed with the Human Rights Commission after the deputy mayor of South Waikato tainted the German origins of an adviser with Nazi credentials.

In an email exchange with Councilor Peter Schulte, Deputy Mayor Bill Machen accused him of following in the footsteps of his “ancestors”.

Schulte fled the oppression of East Germany in the 1980s.

He said that Schulte’s “hereditary ancestors” had “a long history of ignoring the standards of what we now call decent society.”

In a subsequent email, published under the Official Information Act to Schulte and seen by Thing, Machen goes on to say his family suffered at the hands of “Schulte’s ancestors” who were “responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of citizens of this world, including women, children and others whom they arrogantly called untermenschen” – a term coined by the Nazis for “inferior people”.

The exchange came after Schulte, who called for Machen’s resignation as deputy, responded to an email from Mayor Jenny Shattock about two code of conduct investigations by Chief Executive Officer Ben Smit. Schulte has long said that codes of conduct are a waste of taxpayers’ time and money, and he often ridiculed the council for using them.

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The second email shows that Councilor Arama Ngāpō sent Machen an email asking him to apologize.

“Peter is a Kiwi and is proud of it. Any reference to his country of origin in such a derogatory way is unpleasant and, in my opinion, unnecessary. I think you should apologize, ”she said.

Although Machen, who last year had a code of conduct complaint against him after calling a Tokoroa resident a “waste of space,” later apologized – albeit through a email to Shattock he asked to send to Schulte, his previous response to Ngāpō calls into question his sincerity.

“I find by examining my email that it is based on the truth (my truth) and therefore I do not consider an apology to be deserved or due,” he said.

“Honestly, I don’t think my words will have a material effect on this man.”

Machen admits in the email that he articulated his perspective on the German people “based on my reading of German and European history and personal experience gained from visits to Germany.”

Councilor Arama Ngāpō has expressed concern over the “derogatory” behavior of the deputy mayor of South Waikato (file photo).

Christel Yardley / Tips

Councilor Arama Ngāpō has expressed concern over the “derogatory” behavior of the deputy mayor of South Waikato (file photo).

Schulte said he was deeply saddened by Machen’s conduct and called on him to step down as deputy mayor. He also filed a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission and Police, but maintains that a code of conduct would be a waste of time.

“I couldn’t sleep. I’m just really sad that a leader in such a multicultural community has these views, ”he said.

Schulte said he was also disappointed that only Councilors Hamish Daine, Marin Glucina and Ngāpō condemned the comments.

“Mayor Jenny Shattock didn’t once condemn this, but rather threw it back at me saying my email had provoked it,” he said.

“It’s such a shame that our mayor is trying to wash his hands of the deputy mayor’s racism.”

Machen asked questions of Thing be emailed to him before he responds.

The Waikato time requires a face-to-face or telephone interview for matters of high public interest.

“If you don’t want to do that, I can’t say anything because this matter is under police investigation as I understand it and has been passed on to race relations,” he said.

“I offered a sincere apology to the man. My [email to Ngāpō] was long before I apologized.

In a statement, Shattock said Thing that “racial comments are never acceptable”.

“I do not endorse the words used by Councilor Machen,” she said.

“It is a personal decision of Councilor Schulte not to accept the apologies nor to use the legislation under the Local Government Act to adopt a code of conduct.

South Waikato Mayor Jenny Shattock described the deputy mayor's racial attack on a councilor as a

Luke Kirkeby / Stuff

South Waikato Mayor Jenny Shattock described the deputy mayor’s racial attack on a councilor as a ‘two-councilor quest’ (file photo)

“I have no desire to interfere in the process he has undertaken. It would be wrong for me to anticipate any decision from a higher authority.

“Councilor Machen is an excellent deputy mayor and I see this is a quarrel between two councilors. I urge Councilor Schulte and Councilor Machen to meet, put the past behind them and look to the future, and focus on the positives of our district, ”she said.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta was approached for comment, but declined.

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