The city of Tauranga; Getty Images
Opinion

Political Breakdown: As a Tauranga boy, should I be shocked by Te Pāti Māori's decision?

Opinion: I grew up in Te Puna, just outside of Tauranga. 

So I've spent most of my life in and around the city and it's a place I love. 

Most of my family still live in and around Tauranga too. 

So when I saw the comments from the Te  Pāti Māori today, I was kind of taken aback - but also, kind of not. 

They said residents have been subjected to white supremacist leaflet drops. 

And their co-leaders have been the recipients of threats and hate speech by Tauranga residents. 

So I'm now asking myself if the city I grew up in and love - has a serious problem with racism. 

A problem so bad that The Māori Party itself doesn't feel safe contesting the Tauranga seat in next month's by-election? 

I certainly witnessed casual racism growing up. But that's the same for many parts of New Zealand. And those views surely have started to die out, not expand. 

I've heard people at my late nana's retirement village complain of too many Māori place names popping up. 

But again, those views are slowly dying out, not being born. 

But then I realised: who am I to talk about whether racism against Māori exists in Tauranga when I am not Maori. And I have not experienced it first hand. 

And why would Te Paati Māori lie about it? If it is a problem around the Tauranga Moana then shouldn't we talk about it and address it? 

Tauranga has a huge Māori population. But it's also the retirement capital of the country. Loads of mostly-white old people go there to live out the final years of their lives by the beach. 

And maybe it's some of these older white conservative people who are the ones who bring their antiquated racism to the Bay and who have a problem with Māori. 

I don't know. But I'm just ruminating here. 

There's no point getting angry about what Te Paati Māori is claiming. What defines us as a modern, progressive nation is that we do something about it. 

Because racism doesn't belong anywhere. If it's in Tauranga, then let's stamp it out.