Auckland mayoral hopeful John Tamihere's running mate has revealed she felt hurt by his recent "sieg heil" comments.

Christine Fletcher, former National minister and current Auckland councillor, announced she would be Tamihere's running mate and deputy designate when he announced his mayoral bid in January.

During a heated mayoral debate on Tuesday night at Chapel Bar in Ponsonby, a 20-second edited video showed Tamihere responding to Goff's comment about enjoying Auckland for its multiculturalism with the words: "I say sieg heil to that."

"I love this city for its diversity and we won't put up with the sort of nonsense that we get from racists coming into this country to tell us that multiculturalism doesn't work," Goff says.


Host Martyn Bradbury then asks Tamihere what he wishes for the grandchildren of Auckland to which he replies: "I say sieg heil to that."

My late Dad Ted Lees was a veteran of World War 2 and the battle of Monte Cassino. He fought for freedom and truth. My...

Posted by Christine Fletcher on Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Fletcher today announced on her Facebook page that nine months ago she promised to support Tamihere in his bid for mayor of Auckland.

"I continue to support John and believe he will be a strong mayor for Auckland but advised him today, Suffrage Day, that his recent comments were hurtful. He is respectful of my position."

She explained how her late father, Ted Lees, was a veteran of World War II and the battle of Monte Cassino.

"He fought for freedom and truth. My friend and colleague John Tamihere passionately believes in freedom of speech. I support this but feel in the heat of a recent debate he erred.

"I know the immense hurt the Holocaust inflicted upon our world and multi generations of Jewish families. No one can imagine the pain of the genocide of 6 million European Jewish people and other victims of Nazi persecution. In all 11 million people were killed."

She pushed for the Auckland Jewish Community's wish for Auckland Council to allow a memorial to the Holocaust to be created in the Auckland Domain.

"Now is the time to make this happen. We need education and understanding that our world must never again allow an event of this kind to occur."


The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand also today condemned Tamihere for his choice of words after getting feedback from their members who were now in fear.

"We have members of our community telling us that the New Zealand we have today is starting to feel eerily similar to how it felt to be in Europe in the 1930s," chief executive Chris Harris said.

"This has been an increasing pattern since the Christchurch terrorist attacks on 15 March this year. We cannot allow that to continue."

He was also concerned at the "casual nature" with which Tamihere used the words.

"Mr Tamihere uses Nazi language – the language of race hatred – in a throwaway manner. It is deeply irresponsible and incites hate in one of the world's most ethnically diverse cities.

"It is utterly unacceptable for a public figure to evoke Hitler and the Nazis as Mr Tamihere is doing."

When questioned by the Herald what he meant by using those words, Tamihere said he was calling Goff a dictator in regards to the conversation they had 12 minutes earlier about controversial right wing activists Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux's attempt to visit New Zealand.

"I think Aucklanders and Kiwis are grown up enough to determine who they can listen to and why and that we would as New Zealanders give them the opprobrium they justly deserve, but here's the thing. Who determines whether you can think something, speak something and engage in something and who says that it's hate speech?"

Today, Tamihere told RNZ he stood by his comments.

"Sieg Heil to a guy that acts like Hitler is fair enough in a debate."

Goff said he was shocked by Tamihere's choice of words and wasn't sure what he meant by them.

When told it was in the context of the Molyneux debate, he said he didn't have the power to ban them but stood by his comments at the time that he opposed what they were wanting to say.

"It was really weird, I was pretty astounded when he said it, and personally I couldn't understand why he would say something like that.

"It's not the sort of thing that you would expect from a contender for the Auckland mayoralty."