Youth Week Hoodie Day criticised

By Maggie Tait

The highlight of this year's Youth Week is Hoodie Day on Friday but NZ First MP Ron Mark says it is sending the wrong message.

The week is to be launched at Pataka Museum in Porirua this evening hosted by Youth Minister Nanaia Mahuta. Organisers said the highlight of events was Hoodie Day where people would wear the sweatshirt-type tops to try and break down stereotypes that only young hooligans wear them.

Hoodies have hit political news before; in July 2006 Conservative Party leader David Cameron said people should "hug a hoodie".

Mr Mark criticised the idea and said it was a misuse of the $35,000 spent on Youth Week activities.

"I think it's a little bizarre that a Maori MP would be promoting black American gang culture as a way to try generate some positive messages about New Zealand youth," he told NZPA.

"There are 1001 things the Government could spend taxpayer's money on in order to promote the positive things that youth are involved in."

Hoodies are common clothing for all youth and the idea was to break that negative stereotypes about youth.

But Mr Mark said the negative connotations were based on reality and pointed out some malls had banned hoodies.

"Unfortunately there's an element in New Zealand society that through their actions have bought the hoodie into disrepute and unfortunately a lot of New Zealanders look at youths kicking their heels around the streets today, they look at youth gangs, youth crime and the rap American culture and they see totally negative things from those hoods."

- NZPA

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