11-month-old complaint resurfaces

By Alexandra Newlove

Warren Slater (pictured) wants the council to show "integrity" and acknowledge the offensive "dwarf" comment made despite the person responsible apologising almost a year ago.
Warren Slater (pictured) wants the council to show "integrity" and acknowledge the offensive "dwarf" comment made despite the person responsible apologising almost a year ago.

An 11-month-old complaint has been brought up by a Northland council watchdog who says he is on a mission to uncover "lies and deceit".

In August 2015, Warren Slater was at a public community meeting also attended by Whangarei District Council staff, and councillors Sharon Morgan and Greg Martin. During a roading issue discussion, a community member referenced "dwarf corner" when speaking to councillors Martin and Morgan.

Mr Slater says the councillors acknowledged the term. Councillors Martin and Morgan - individually and through the council's legal counsel - deny this.

The term "dwarf corner" was a reference to a corner on Three Mile Bush Rd, near Alan Agnew's home. Mr Agnew is a little person, and told the Advocate the term "dwarf" was offensive.

"I don't like that word used, to be honest. If you want to use anything, it's 'little people'," Mr Agnew said.

Mr Martin said he did not recall the term being used at the meeting.

"When people are talking, you are acknowledging that you are hearing what people are saying. I never responded to [that term]," he said.

The person who made the comment has since apologised to Mr Agnew, but almost a year later Mr Slater has publicised the incident, saying the council should show "integrity" and acknowledge the offensive comment.

He raised it last Wednesday as part of a series of protests at council meetings in the lead-up to the October election. The protestors had made jibes at a number of councillors and senior staff, using placards held up by Mr Slater and associates Wayne Deeming and Brian May, both of whom have had historic grievances with the council.

"I thought the best time to bring it up again was election time," Mr Slater said. "This was at a public meeting. It's not really a good thing. These people are meant to be representing us."

Mr Slater has stood for council and the Whangarei mayoralty, but said he was not seeking election in 2016. "When you get these sorts of lies and deceit, I don't want to work in that environment," he said.

Mr Slater filed an Official Information Act request to the WDC, asking where "dwarf corner" was. He was told no such place existed on council records.

- Northern Advocate

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