Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Pocketknife that sparked 'Wogistan' to be auctioned

MP Richard Prosser at home with his daughters and partner Mel Francis. Photo / Martin Hunter
MP Richard Prosser at home with his daughters and partner Mel Francis. Photo / Martin Hunter

The now infamous pocketknife that inspired Richard Prosser to pen his "Wogistan" rant will be auctioned on Trade Me.

The New Zealand First List MP sparked a global outcry over suggestions that all young Muslim men be banned from flying on Western airlines.

His inflammatory comments were prompted after he says his beloved pocketknife was confiscated after passing through customs at Christchurch International Airport.

Mr Prosser, 45, blamed the heightened security measures on young Muslims, and fired off his anti-Islam column to Investigate magazine.

But since the fallout from his comments, he's been "building bridges" with the local Muslim community.

He has apologised for causing offence and told APNZ that he's turned over a new leaf.

"Getting rid of the pocketknife is perhaps symbolic of burying the hatchet," he said, speaking from his rural North Canterbury property in the Waimakariri electorate where he stood in the last election.

The under-fire politician wants to put the knife - still under lock and key at the airport - on Trade Me and give the proceeds to a worthy cause.

He wants to canvas opinion from the Muslim community, to see what they think would be appropriate, but he's already had his own thoughts where the cash could go.

"One that sprung to mind was the Pakistani girl who got shot by the Taleban," he said.

"Her recovery is going to need a bit of help and that might be a good thing to do."

Much to the relief of his fiancee, Mel Francis, who is also mother to his two young daughters, he's decided to quit writing his Investigate column, after ten years.

He's tried to keep his views as a columnist separate from those as a politician, but he now accepts that is no longer a compatible fit.

"It's time to let things go," he said.

"It's time to let Investigate go, let go of the controversial shock-jock approach... the beard's gone, it's a new me."

Since last Tuesday, when the article came to light, Mr Prosser has spoken with Dr Anwar Ghani, head of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, other Muslim leaders, and the Council of Christians and Jews.

He's vowed to visit mosques, meet critics, and begin talks on how to keep New Zealand "free from extremists".

There was a perception, he believed, that moderate Islam doesn't speak out when radical Islamists "do bad things".

And so he wants to work with the Muslim community to ensure that "the lunatic fringe" can drowned out.

"It would be great if something positive can come out of it," he said.

"If we can prevent extremism from taking root here, the way it has in other parts of the world, then perhaps we can create a template that the rest of the world can use for communicating."

- APNZ

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