Holocaust comparison to NZ Colonisation “Unacceptable”

February 6, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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The President of the New Zealand Jewish Council has slammed a Maori academic for trivialising the Holocaust.

Stephen Goodman

Keri Opai is a Taranaki Maunga academic who participated in a Radio New Zealand special panel discussion as part of Waitangi Day which commemorates the 1840 treaty which represented the founding of New Zealand.

He told the the panel that the effect of colonisation on the Maori could “forgiven but not forgotten”. Media reports him saying: “If you really knew what went on, that really does break it down to a holocaust. I know we might get in trouble for saying those words but it is absolutely true.

Stephen Goodman, the president of the New Zealand Jewish Council told J-Wire: “It is totally unacceptable for anyone to attempt associating European colonisation of New Zealand with the Holocaust.  This is not the first time that Maori have trivialised the Holocaust by trying to associate it with their own perceived grievances.  There is absolutely no valid comparison between the settlement of the country and the organised, state sponsored, genocide that was the Holocaust.  As a language lecturer Mr Opai is obviously totally ignorant of world history; as an “academic” he should know better.  His words are extremely offensive to the Jewish and other communities that were the target of the Shoah.”

Comments

2 Responses to “Holocaust comparison to NZ Colonisation “Unacceptable””
  1. Gabrielle says:

    Unfortunately so many people, especially in this part of the world, do not understand what the Holocaust really was.

  2. Claire says:

    The Taranaki Daily News published the following apology to Keri Opai this morning for misrepresenting his use of the word holocaust. I was present at the Radio NZ panel discussion, and at no stage did Keri Opai compare the Jewish experience to that of Taranaki iwi Maori.

    From page 3 of today’s paper:

    “The Taranaki Daily News reported yesterday that Maori academic Keri Opai compared the European colonisation of New Zealand with the killing of six million Jews by the Nazi regime during World War II. In fact, Mr Opai described colonisation as “a holocaust” for the Maori people. The Macquarie Dictionary defines holocaust as great or wholesale destruction of life, especially by fire. It was in this manner that Mr Opai used the word holocaust. The Taranaki Daily news apologises for the error.”

    Unfortunately the newspaper’s apology to Keri Opai hasn’t been as widely circulated as the original article (ie, it hasn’t been posted on the Stuff website), so please distribute this news to your networks.

    Nga mihi ki a koutou katoa.

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