The South African sports journalist who swore never to return to Taupo after he was accused of drug dealing said he will now go back to the region after meeting with a top Maori chief.

Vata Ngobeni, chief rugby writer for the Pretoria News, claimed he was singled out because he was black and wrote a scathing column in his newspaper.

Police claimed they acted appropriately, but Tuwharetoa paramount chief Sir Tumu Te Heuheu yesterday had an hour-long meeting with Ngobeni to make amends.

"It was sad to hear that someone had visited Taupo and had made judgements that had taken place," Sir Tumu told Campbell Live.


Ngobeni told the programme he was humbled to meet a Maori chief and that it was the highlight of his stay in New Zealand.

"It was a very very humbling experience, and as I said before I'd probably experienced the low-light of being in New Zealand, of being in Taupo - not knowing that it was going to open the door to the highlight of me being here."

Earlier police hit back at accusations that their decision to take Ngobeni from a Taupo bar and search him at a police station was racially motivated.

Bay of Plenty district commander Superintendent Glenn Dunbier said police had "received credible information about an alleged offence"

"We were obliged to act on that information," he said. "Ethnicity, occupation or any other details would be irrelevant - the police focus was on the alleged offence."

Mr Dunbier said police had received information about increasing quantities of Ecstasy and cannabis being sold in and around Taupo.

The officer on duty outside the bar was approached by a patron who told him a man was dealing drugs in the toilets.

Mr Dunbier said it was explained to Ngobeni that the police had been told a man fitting his description was alleged to have been drug dealing.


Ngobeni left the bar to talk to the officers and told them who he was and what he was doing in New Zealand.

Mr Dunbier said Ngobeni was then taken to the nearby police station because it "wasn't appropriate" to conduct the search in public.