'We aren't Nazis' - president of Auckland Uni European group

The president of the student club which is using symbols also used by white supremacist groups says it has been misunderstood.

The man, who won't give his name for safety reasons, is the head of the European Students Association established at Auckland University, which some fear is a white nationalist group.

"We aren't Nazis, white supremacists, racists, fascists," he told NZME.

"We completely condemn all of that. We aren't any of that."

The man says Pacific, Maori and Asian students have cultural groups, and Europeans have the right to have their own cultural group as well.

He says the group aims to recruit both "European students" and anyone else who is "interested in European culture".

The group's Facebook page includes Celtic symbols used by white supremacist groups, and paintings depicting the unification of Germany and the colonisation of New Zealand in the 19th century.

It has also posted "our pride is our honour and loyalty", a statement similar to "my honour is called loyalty", a common translation of the Nazi SS slogan.

The man says he may change the group's slogan, which he came up with himself, but he won't be removing Celtic imagery from the group's Facebook page.

"All the concerns that have come up have been just from these small fringe groups that are opposed to European culture.

"There are a lot of people on campus who simply don't want to have Europeans promoting European culture.

"People simply want to shut it down by calling us all these names."

The Auckland University Students' Association (AUSA) is disappointed that the organisation will be allowed at the university's orientation, despite serious student concerns of racist material.

But a university spokesman said the university has no reason to prevent the group from taking part in the expo.

"The university promotes a safe and inclusive campus environment. We have no evidence there is any form of discrimination or racism."

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy says she will keep an eye on the group.

"I am a Kiwi with European heritage and I'm very proud of my Irish roots - but being proud of my heritage doesn't mean limiting the rights of anyone else."

The group has responded to concerns on Facebook stating "It seems like there has been some gross misunderstanding of what our club is about and who we are," and that they want to promote European culture on campus through activities such as medieval re-enactions.

A self-described spokesman for the group, Adam Holland, said it was a completely innocent club and there was no indication it had racist intentions.

"It's about unity, not separatism," said Holland.

Holland made a name for himself when, whilst vying for Auckland mayoralty last year, he dressed in a Muslim jubba and yelled "Allahu akbar" and "vote for me" at an Auckland University mayoral debate.

He said he doesn't see the link between using Celtic symbols and being racist.

"It's pretty silly. To link Celtic images to racism, that's hateful," said Holland who told NZME the aim of the group is "to have a good time, celebrate diversity" and freedom of association.

Holland said AUSA is against the group because it is scared it is racist, "when it's not".

"They are being the hateful ones. AUSA should be ashamed of themselves and issue an apology."

- NZ Herald

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