A principal whose dangerous driving conviction was revealed after he received a Queen's Birthday honour has also received a drink-driving conviction in the past.

Pem Bird, head of Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau in Murupara and a former Maori Party president, was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to education and Maori.

He has already been fined and disqualified from driving for six months after being caught driving at 169km/h between Rotorua and Murupara last September.

Bird's case was brought before the New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal today, with calls for him to be censured.


Bird blamed the incident on tailgaters, who he believed had taken offence to the Tino Rangatiratanga flags on his car.

He said the car had tailgated him for at least a kilometre, even though he pulled into the left lane of a passing area.

"The white car however continued to tailgate me all the way to the end of the double line and beyond to the road works at the bottom of the hill," he said in a statement to the Tribunal.

"There were two pakeha youths sitting in front, although I could not make out who the others were in the back. It began to dawn on me then that it was perhaps my flags that had caused them offence, and hence their tailgating of me."

Bird said he gave the car numerous opportunities to overtake him, but did not want to stop.

"I seriously believe I would have been in danger . . . hence my foolish and stupid decision to try and outrun them to the not-too-distant turn off to Murupara. Just before the entry way I accelerated hard, hitting the speed I was clocked at in a matter of a couple of seconds. My car is a high-performance SR8."

He said the "souped up" car followed suit and continued tailgating him.

He was clocked by police as he sped around a sweeping bend.

Bird told the tribunal it was a "sobering experience" to realise his speeding could have endangered others.

"I will reform my bad driving habits and will seek help from driving instructors in doing so. It was a foolish and unacceptable act on my part for which I am truly remorseful."

The tribunal heard that Bird had received previous convictions for careless driving in 1994 and drink driving in 2004. He has also received demerit points as a result of speeding on 19 different occasions in the past.

Bird said he often received abuse from the public for the flags on his car. He noted one incident where a man drove alongside his car leaning out the window yelling at him.

Receptionist at Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau, Vivienne Higgins, who was in the car on that occasion, gave a statement to the tribunal saying the man had yelled obscenities at them while pointing to the flags.

"He kept putting his clenched fist out the window yelling 'white power'," she said.

"He also called us black bastards and kept yelling at us to f*** off."

A senior college student who was present also gave a statement on the incident, saying the same thing.

The Complaints Assessment Committee has called for Bird to be censured for his dangerous driving conviction, saying he had brought the reputation of teachers into discredit.

He appeared before the tribunal for the drink-driving conviction, but paperwork on the decision could not be found.

The CAC said Bird was "not meeting his ethical obligations as a teacher . . . his actions give the impression that he will do what he wishes regardless of whether or not that is consistent with the law".

It asked that Bird also be made to inform his current and future employers of his convictions and the tribunal's decision for the next three years, and that the register be annotated for three years.

The tribunal's decision has not yet been released.