Keri Opai is a Taranaki Maunga academic who participated in a Radio New Zealand special panel discussion as part of Waitangi Day which commemorates the 1840 treaty which represented the founding of New Zealand.
He told the the panel that the effect of colonisation on the Maori could “forgiven but not forgotten”. Media reports him saying:
If you really knew what went on, that really does break it down to a holocaust. I know we might get in trouble for saying those words but it is absolutely true.
Stephen Goodman, the president of the New Zealand Jewish Council told J-Wire: “It is totally unacceptable for anyone to attempt associating European colonisation of New Zealand with the Holocaust. This is not the first time that Maori have trivialised the Holocaust by trying to associate it with their own perceived grievances. There is absolutely no valid comparison between the settlement of the country and the organised, state sponsored, genocide that was the Holocaust. As a language lecturer Mr Opai is obviously totally ignorant of world history; as an “academic” he should know better.
His words are extremely offensive to the Jewish and other communities that were the target of the Shoah.”