The Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board chair, Lotu Fuli, has laid a complaint of racial discrimination at the Local Government New Zealand conference at SkyCity in Auckland.

The Samoan woman said she was entering the SkyCity conference centre from Federal St to register for the conference yesterday when a European security guard put out his hand to stop her.

She said European delegates ahead of her were waved through, but the guard challenged her with a stern face.

The only reason it could occur is because of the colour of my skin


Fuli said the guard did not touch her. She told him she was attending the conference and continued to the fourth floor to register for the conference in time for the opening powhiri.


"The only reason it could occur is because of the colour of my skin," said Fuli.

She claimed a Maori delegate experienced similar behaviour from security and was terribly upset.

Fuli said she had laid a complaint through the council's Local Board services.

"I'm happy that our council staff are doing their best to handle the issue appropriately, however, the wider issue is that these incidents are not isolated and that people of colour, in particular Maori and Pacific, in New Zealand experience this sort of discrimination almost everyday," she said.

Last night, council's governance director Phil Wilson said he had asked staff to contact the Local Government New Zealand conference organisers about the incident.

"The only thing I have been told is that there was security checking people during the one hour the Prime Minister was in the building [for the conference]," Wilson said.

He said security were there to check people had a conference card around their neck, and was not sure if Fuli had one or not.

A SkyCity spokesman said the company had not received any official complaint, but if any delegate felt singled out then that was not the case.

"On the request of the client [Local Government New Zealand], we had four senior officers manning the entrances to the Convention Centre in case of any protest action. This is a relatively normal precaution.

"All visitors to the centre during the conference period were asked if they were delegates and then directed up to the registration desk on level 4," the spokesman said.

Last November, Manukau councillor Efeso Collins accused staff of racial discrimination at the swearing-in ceremony at Auckland Town Hall.

Collins said his wife, 4-year-old daughter and elders were initially told that they could not sit where they were because it was reserved for council guests. When his wife said they were guests, no one believed them, he said.