"It was an incident of hate that has no place in Rotorua."

That is how Nabih Mansour and wife Cate Frey feel after being racially abused one day before the Christchurch mosque shootings.

The couple were working at their stall, Mansour Kitchen, at last Thursday's Night Market when a man, who they believed was speaking in an American accent, started yelling at Mansour.

Speaking on behalf of her husband, Frey said she believed the man's "dream was for Nabih to come out and hit him or something so he could say, 'look at these Muslims'.


"He was just out to try and provoke Nabih, who has been in Rotorua for nearly 10 years."

Frey said they were both rattled when the next day news broke of the terror attacks against Muslims in Christchurch.

"When it happened the next day at the mosques we thought, 'gosh we know these people are around'."

Nabih Mansour, right, with his wife Cate Fray outside their night market stall in 2014. Photo / File
Nabih Mansour, right, with his wife Cate Fray outside their night market stall in 2014. Photo / File

Since infancy, the Palestine-born Mansour has lived as a displaced person, someone who is officially classified a stateless person without a passport.

He was a refugee caught up in wars in the Middle Eastern trouble spots and was just six months old when Palestine was on the cusp of becoming Israel.

Since living in Rotorua and serving up his well-known falafel at the weekly night market, Mansour says he has never had a negative experience towards being Muslim or Palestinian.

But Frey said when she saw the accused man walking around at last week's market, she got a sense he was not there to be friendly.

"He came up... and said I am not happy with you having this word Palestine up, there is no Palestine.


"He started attacking Nabih as a person, you could tell in his eyes he was full of hate and anger.

"[He] thought he had the right to come and attack a man running a stall. We don't deal politics at the stall, we just sell falafel."

The man eventually left and Mansour continued working, waiting for his regular customers who always brighten his night with their "lovely" natures.

"Nabih feels so much love for Rotorua because it has given him a home and given him security which he has never had before.

"We have to call out anyone who does stuff that brings disharmony. It was one incident but may it never happen again."

Rotorua Lakes Council confirmed a verbal incident was reported at the Thursday Night Market and a man was told his behaviour was unacceptable and would not be tolerated.

The council's operations group manager Henry Weston said the man was asked to leave and he did.

Weston was unaware of any similar incidents in the market's history.

"The Night Market is a vibrant multicultural event where we aim to provide a friendly, safe environment for all people to enjoy and verbal abuse of any kind, anti-social behaviour and criminal behaviour are not tolerated."