13 Jun 2017

Speeding Bird was 'anxious' over tailgaters

2:20 pm on 13 June 2017

A former Māori Party president drove at nearly 170km/h to escape people who objected to the Māori Party flags on his car, the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal has been told.

Former Māori Party president Pem Bird

Former Māori Party president Pem Bird Photo: RNZ

The tribunal is considering charges against Pem Bird, a school principal, following his conviction last year for driving at a dangerous speed, 169km/h, near Rotorua.

In a statement to the tribunal, Mr Bird said he was speeding because the car behind him was tail-gating him and refusing to over-take even when it had the opportunity to do so.

Mr Bird said he was sure the occupants of the car, who were Pākehā, did not like his car's Māori Party flags.

He said he was "quite anxious".

"I endeavoured to make every effort to force them to pass me short of stopping by slowing right down," Mr Bird's statement said.

"Actual stopping was not an option. I seriously believe I would have been in danger! I was on my own."

Mr Bird said he then tried to out-run the car, which he said was a "foolish and stupid decision".

The statement of facts said Mr Bird's car was stopped after it was observed travelling at 169km/h and crossing the centre line on a corner.

Mr Bird said he would reform his driving habits and seek help from driving instructors.

The Education Council's Complaints Assessment Committee said in a statement the tribunal should censure Mr Bird and impose conditions on his continued teacher registration for three years.

It said Mr Bird had two previous convictions - for careless driving in 1994, and excess breath alcohol in 2004 - and had been caught speeding on 19 occasions between 1991 and 2013.

The committee said Mr Bird had appeared before the Teachers Council in 2004 because of an earlier driving conviction and he should have learned from that experience.

"Nothing can justify the respondent's repeated speeding," it said.

Mr Bird said in a message to the tribunal that he had reformed his bad habit of speeding as he had a clean record since March 2013 until last year's incident.