Watch: Phil Goff tells John Tamihere to apologise over 'sieg heil' comment

2:22 pm on 19 September 2019

Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere says groups objecting to his use of "sieg heil" had no right to be his thought police.

Mr Tamihere has doubled down on his use of the nazi greeting this week, telling today's Morning Report mayoral debate he can say what he likes.

The Race Relations Commissioner and the Holocaust Centre have said the comments in a debate on Tuesday were unacceptable.

But Mr Tamihere said he was using the expression to illustrate that Phil Goff was acting like a dictator when he acted to bar white supremacist speakers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux appearing at council venues last year.

Those objecting to "sieg heil" could not corner the market on what was acceptable when people had fought and died in war to defend free speech, he said.

"I get that the Jewish folk can corner the market on the holocaust and that's terrible. Sieg heil for a guy that acts like Hitler is fair enough in a debate," Mr Tamihere said.

But Mr Goff said he had the right to express zero tolerance for bigotry, and a lot of people were offended by the nazi comment.

"You didn't apologise for that. You didn't apologise when you offended people that were victims of sexual assault, you didn't apologise when you offended women by making derogatory comments about them, you didn't apologise when you offended the rainbow community... you don't learn from your mistakes John.

Each candidate accused the other of taking the nazi comment out of context.

Mr Tamihere said Mr Goff was trying to highlight a tiny part of a 45 minute debate, while Mr Goff said Mr Tamihere was trying to reframe the context of his comments which were made after Mr Goff talked about his mixed heritage grandchild.

The pair continued the fractious vibe that has been evident any time they've shared the stage.

Mr Tamihere frequently rolled his eyes and loudly sighed. Mr Goff smiled to himself, chuckled or scoffed.

Watch the full debate here:

They canvassed several other areas, with Mr Tamihere saying the council should do a land swap with Fletchers to solve the Ihumātao stand-off.

Mr Goff said is was not council's role to solve the problem, but it had already tried to help but creating more reserve land in the area.

Mr Tamihere said Mr Goff's plans to carry cars off the wharf by barge was ridiculous, while Mr Goff said Mr Tamihere's 18-lane harbour bridge suggestion was "a total fantasy."

And Mr Goff ruled out supporting a new airport at Whenuapai, saying the area was too built up and other city's managed with one airport. Mr Tamihere said the city was crying out for a second, strategic airport.

Mr Tamihere's running mate, Christine Fletcher, said he "erred" when he said "sieg heil" during an Auckland mayoral debate this week.

In a post on Facebook, Ms Fletcher said while she supported Mr Tamihere's belief in freedom of speech, he erred in the heat of a debate.

She said she had told him his comments were hurtful, and he respected her position.

Ms Fletcher said she continued to support Mr Tamihere.