Plenty of online abuse for 'Maori' personalised plate

By Steve Deane

Bidding in September 2011 reached $60,000 but the plate did not sell. Photo / Thinkstock
Bidding in September 2011 reached $60,000 but the plate did not sell. Photo / Thinkstock

Its asking price has been slashed but the Trade Me auction for the personalised number plate MAORI is no less of a magnet for racial abuse than when it was first listed over two years ago.

Artist and online knick-knack trader Bruce Haliday has dropped his reserve price for the controversial plate from $99,000 to $49,000. When he first listed the plate on Trade Me in August 2011, the auction's question and answer section attracted 990 comments, many of them derogatory towards Maori.

Little has changed in the most recent auction. "Hey does this plate come with the hole in the rock?? ..." asked bricktop17.

'Mr Haliday could not be reached for comment. He has previously declined requests for interviews, saying he feared for his family's safety.

The first auction for the plate attracted 120,310 views and subsequent auctions had taken the total number of views to over 800,000, Mr Haliday claimed.

Bidding in September 2011 reached $60,000 but the plate did not sell as the offer was well short of the $99,000 reserve.

There is no way of telling if the $60,000 bid was genuine.

Prominent Maori broadcaster Willie Jackson said he wasn't really interested in the racist comments.

"I can't be bothered with it really, to tell you the truth," Mr Jackson said. "It's just disappointing. If people want to express their identity, whether they be Maori or Pakeha or Chinese, I don't have a problem with it. It's probably good for people who need a reaffirmation, who want to parade their Maori identity everywhere, which is okay.

"I don't think it hurts if people want to do that. Some might want a Pakeha [plate] too."

A search of the Personalised Plates directory reveals that PAKEHA has already been taken. So too has SAMOAN, TONGAN, INDIAN, PAKI, FIJIAN and even TUVALU. 1HORI1 is up for resale at $800, MAORI1 can be bought for $2500, ASIAN1 for $5000 and POM for $20,000.

The MAORI plate was originally bought by property developer David Blackmore and was transferred to Kim Dotcom as part of a transaction over a $1.5 million loan. Mr Dotcom, who also received the plates GUILTY, MAFIA, POLICE, STONED, GOOD and EVIL, sold the MAORI plate to Mr Haliday through Trade Me.

The latest auction closes at 11.45pm tomorrow. Last night, the auction had attracted 3842 views with no bids.

- NZ Herald

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