First of all I have no comment on Israel Folau's remarks, it's his belief and who am I to judge. Everybody has a right to freedom of speech and that's what I'm sticking up for, the media have blown it up all out of proportion with some sportsmen putting their two cents in as well.

It's just one man's opinion and you lot are trying to draw and quarter him. Bad publicity is still publicity and now every man and his dog knows about it, he didn't ask for all this publicity over his comments so who's at fault?

Most of us don't give a hoot about his comments and why should we? Much to public opinion we don't all think alike and never will, that's what makes a truly multicultural society.

GAVIN MUIR
Rotorua

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While we still have free speech in this country, I would like to express my disgust at the way the Media in general have treated Israel and Maria Folau.

It seems the media are determined to misrepresent what he has been accused of saying, and keep labelling him as 'homophobic'. A 'phobia' is a 'fear' but that concept has, it seems, now been manipulated so that it implies hatred.

You may like to read online what Israel himself has to say, and then you can judge whether he should have this label. The article is entitled 'I'm a Sinner Too' but Israel Folau
in my opinion is just the opposite. He is humble and courageous and as a Christian, shares Bible verses out of love for people. Not to condemn them. And the Bible verse he had quoted does not condemn homosexuals merely because of their orientation. ( 1 Cor 6 : 9-10 ).

On the other hand the media and other high profile people it can find, are willing to condemn him. Thankfully Facebook is one social media vehicle which allows people to express their views. One article alone, and there are several, I see 5.2k expressions of support for [Folau] and his Christian faith.

JAN STEVENSON
Rotorua

The threatened departure of the Rescue Helicopter from Rotorua is a backward step in our view.

Rotorua's large rural community is reliant on such a service in times of emergency and I am sure those people will be disappointed to see the service end.

We too would be disheartened as our gardeners have truly embraced the work of the rescue helicopter and supported it by taking part in the biennial Garden Festival. In November, more than 40 gardeners around the district opened their gardens to the public with the goal of generating funds for the rescue helicopter and St Johns.

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We were pleased to be able to donate $10,000 to the helicopter, adding to the considerable sums donated from two previous festivals.

We do hope that the powers that be reconsider the closure as Rotorua's city and outlying areas do not want to be regressive in the services provided to it.

JOAN PRYDE
President, Rotorua District Festival of Gardens Inc.

Any column inches that bring attention to the parlous state of road safety in this country is welcome but I have issues with Lizzie Marvelly's views on Saturday ('Tourists should have T plates' ).

It reminded me of Three's The Project a few weeks back where a female guest, without any statistics to back it up, laid the blame for the litter problem in New Zealand squarely in the tourist lap.

Ms Marvelly details several instances of alleged poor tourist driving but at the same time states that, "statistics that suggest foreign drivers aren't actually involved in many crashes", and "police have rightly pointed out that New Zealand drivers are behind the vast majority of crashes".

With almost daily reports of deaths on our roads we clearly have a big problem but let's not attempt to lay the blame on so called litter throwing, bad driving tourists alone.

They are an extremely valuable monetary asset to us after all. To me Ms Marvelly's piece felt slightly parochial with a soupcon of xenophobia. I say, simply, let's blame litter louts and bad motorists, no need for labels, full stop.

WILLIAM WRIGHT
Rotorua

H Brasser (April 2), complained about the absurd bilingual signage in the library. G Parker (April 18), criticises government initiatives to address inequities for Maori.

Are these two a tag team? Parker says there will, "only be peace when all mention of race is taken out of legislation". He does not know his history. Successive governments in his time and before created the legislation that discriminated against and marginalised Maori.

Pakeha-centric attitudes and worldviews based on what Pakeha believed was and is best for Maori, are at the core of the shocking statistics that is the Maori nightmare.

But, like a patient coming out of the topor of anaesthesia, New Zealand society has been changing. The numerous government initiatives Parker complains of are to redress the mistakes, lack of care and respect Maori have always experienced in a society where white is right and brown is unfortunate.

The underlying intent of Parker's comment to take race out of legislation is founded in Hobson's 'we are one,' so long as we are Pakeha ideology. This is a fallacy borne out in New Zealand's shameful socio-economic statistics.

Having never known the Maori experience of colonisation Parker needs to go to our library to do urgent research. The bilingual signage would probably confuse him though.

WAIRANGI JONES
Rotorua