Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell has apologised for offense caused by his column in The Daily Post which took a ultra conservative stance on youth suicide.
I apologise unreservedly for the offence caused, following my column,” he wrote in a letter to the editor.
His original comments took a hard line which the MP suggesting that “if a child commits suicide, let us consider not celebrating their lives on our marae; perhaps bury them at the entrance of the cemetery so their deaths will be condemned by the people,” he went on to say “In doing these things, it demonstrates the depth of disgust the people have with this. Yes it is a hard stance, but what else can we do?”
A number of critics lashed out at his comments suggesting that they were both ill-informed and without compassion.
The Rotorua Daily Post confirmed that Mr Flavell’s letter to the editor was not published in its entirety, and had the following sentences removed by the newspaper:“I am sorry for raising this issue in this way, but I do so having seen mums and dads, grandparents in their despair, in their real grief. All of us must be concerned.”
The line was removed in editing for length, but was not removed from the published te reo version, and has been reinstated in the online version.
Mr Flavell told the Daily Post that he had a great deal of aroha for those who had suffered from this.
Mr Flavell said in his letter the controversial statement came from practices used in the past on marae, and he was always conscious to look at tikanga for solutions to current issues, but he understood this was not the only way to address this issue.