A New Zealand paper issued an apology on Tuesday over a report that allegedly misquoted a Taranaki language lecturer's use of the term "holocaust" in describing the country's colonization of the indigenous Maori people, according to Radio New Zealand.
The original report, published in The Taranaki Daily News
, reportedly gave many the impression that academic Keri Opai had attempted to compare the plight of the Maori to the Nazi extermination of six million Jews. According to Radio New Zealand, "Mr. Opai said he was suggesting what happened to his Parihaka ancestors amounted to a holocaust because their houses were burnt down by the colonial troops in the 1880s. He says he was not referring to the extermination of Jews under Nazi rule."
Opai explained that although the Tarantaki
newspaper had issued an apology, the backlash he received over his comments prove the damage had already been done.
Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman slammed Opai's remark on Wednesday.
"It works on trivializing the Holocaust and diminishing the suffering and sheer horror of it all," The New Zealand Herald
cited Goodman as saying. "[Maori] have every right to draw attention to their issue, but there are ways to go about it, and there are inappropriate ways - this is a highly inappropriate way."