An Invercargill father of two is "hurt" following a racist attack on his sons' school.
Tyson Gene Grennell of Ngati Tuwharetoa was shocked when he heard a racist message was sprayed on the sign of Te Wharekura O Arowhenua in Newfield.
"This has affected me emotionally and physically. It hurt me, you know. I'm actually upset to see this kind of behaviour, the racism in 2020."
He said he was driving past the school and his children Wizdom (5) and Justice (7), asked what the message meant.
Grennell was upset that he had to lie to his children.
"To tell my son what it actually meant — I can't. I had to tell him that was saying they love your school. I had to change the whole subject matter and lie to them a couple of days before Christmas — it is hurtful.
"The kids don't understand — they are too little to understand the emotion of the hate messages."
He said the children, who were fluent in te reo, had studied at the school for the past 18 months.
Mr Grennell said he always wanted them to appreciate the importance of Maori culture. "Maori culture has to be accepted throughout Invercargill and New Zealand."
He described targeting children with hate messages as crossing the line.
The Otago Daily Times was made aware of the same message sprayed on a roadside shed on State Highway 1 near Invercargill last week.
A police spokeswoman said yesterday they received a complaint about the incident.
"Police are taking this matter seriously, as we do all reports of hate speech or behaviour that causes concern."
She said police would be in and around the Newfield community providing patrols for reassurance.
Invercargill City Councillor Alex Crackett posted on social media about the incident.
She said it made her absolutely hoha (angry) and it was a "despicable act of blatant racism".
"I am ashamed as a community representative to see this occur in Waihopai, Invercargill.
"This is not who we are."
She said it provided her a poignant reminder of how important it was to korero te reo Maori every day.
Anyone who might know who was responsible was asked to contact police via 105 and quote file number 201222/5669.