Auckland University students sceptical European group 'accidentally' evoked Nazi Germany

Auckland University students are inspired by the "outrage" at a potentially "white supremacist" group on campus.

Some fear the European Students' Association at the University of Auckland is a white nationalist group.

However, Auckland University Students' Association (AUSA) president Will Matthews, who remains deeply concerned about the nature of the group, said the AUSA was "blown away by the depth of support on this issue".

"It has been so inspiring to see the messages from students, University staff and members of the public who share student outrage at the presence of a potentially offensive group forming on our campus."

He said the support for the AUSA's distress about the motive of the European group "proved that the spirit of diversity, tolerance and community is still alive and well in New Zealand".

"We need a passionate community who are not afraid to stand up and call out hatred when we see it, to ensure that our campuses, our streets and our conversations are safe."

The head of the European Students' Association earlier told NZME the group was misunderstood and "we aren't Nazis, white supremacists, racists, fascists".

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

The man, who declined to give his name for security reasons, said Pacific, Maori and Asian students have cultural groups, and Europeans have a right to have their own cultural group.

The group's Facebook page includes Celtic symbols used by white supremacist groups, and paintings depicting the unification of Germany.

It 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.

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


Matthews said the AUSA had contacted the European Students' Association today.

"The group claims that they have been grossly misrepresented. If this is the case, then we encourage them to constructively engage with the student community to provide an explanation for how they have chosen to communicate their values and purpose.

"We are sceptical of the possibility that someone could 'accidentally' come up with a slogan that evokes Nazi Germany, and this combined with the other imagery and iconography that the group has caused many New Zealanders to draw the same conclusions as Auckland University students."

He said the AUSA will continue to speak out against intolerance and hatred on campus.

The European group will be included in next week's orientation week, despite objections from students. The university has allowed the group to hold a stall and recruit members at the Clubs Expo.

More than 100 clubs are affiliated to AUSA, covering a broad range of interests and political positions.

In 2012, students voted not to disaffiliate ProLife, an anti-abortion group, after two people complained about it.

Every group has to have at least 10 members, including three officers.​

- NZ Herald

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