National | Bullying

Uffindell remorseful but political commentator calls out 'white privilege'

A party that should be celebrating its comeback in the latest results of a political popularity poll is now dealing with yet another blow.

Now the National Party has closed ranks and is standing by newbie Tauranga MP Sam Uffindell despite details surfacing of him attacking a younger student at high school many years ago.

Concerns have been raised about whether this information should have been made public before he contested and won the recent Tauranga byelection.

It was only his first week in Parliament when Stuff reported the story about the attack, and Uffindell both defended his character and took responsibility for actions in his past.

National leader Christopher Luxon defended Uffindell but did acknowledge that what had happened was terrible and that it was "utterly unacceptable".

Uffindell said he felt remorse and was "very upset" about the incident for a long time. He described it as a significant moment in his life, which changed his path a lot.

That path led him to the House of Representatives delivering his maiden speech just seven days ago. In his speech, he described Tauranga as a region "beset by gang issues and a growing culture of lawlessness and a lack of accountability.

“Ultimately, though, the state must hold people accountable,” he said.

The celebrations are cut short for Nāhinara.

White privilege

Political commentator and former Labour candidate Shane Te Pou says Uffindell is a benefactor of white privilege as he attended a school that cost him lots of money, ‘did an exit deal and no charges were laid".

“I think a lot of Māori kids and many Māori parents have been in a similar situations and they’ve ended up in court and many in borstal or youth prison,” he said.

The National Party issued a statement last night saying that the leadership were aware of the incident. However, both Luxon and deputy leader Nicola Willis were not aware.

“I should have been informed, the delegates should have been informed and, most importantly, I think the voters in Tauranga should have been informed,” Luxon said today.

Te Pou says the people of Tauranga Moana were duped and misled because of the omission.

“They should have had that information presented to them and on that basis they would have determined whether they would have voted for him or not," he said.