It’s an experience the aunty of three young Māori men will never forget. On simply entering a Kathmandu store recently, the police were called on them despite not committing any crime.
She's horrified at the incident she witnessed, which has left her asking where is the justice?
Never in her lifetime has Ngawai Rewha come across what she believed to be such blatant racism directed at her 3 nephews on Wednesday gone.
Ngawai says, “My boys walked into the shop before me, then i followed on about ten seconds after, and I heard an Asian man tell the other worker to call the cops, and I thought maybe I was hearing things so I let it go and I looked through the racks, then I could hear the lady giving descriptions of my boys.”
In addition to the complete confusion she felt as to why the police were being called, it was the shame and humiliation that got to Ngawai the most.
She says, “the thing for me that made me want to stand up for it is hearing my boys say, sweet as don’t' worry about it, this happens to us all the time... I don't want them to ever feel like they’re going to come to a place and look at buying things and for people to make them feel like they’re doing something wrong, they’re not doing anything wrong.”
She left her details with the shop as they left before the police arrived, with the expectation that the police officer would call and she could explain the situation and then an apology would follow, however that wasn't the case.
“The police told me that they told the shop to ring them if anyone looks suspicious or acts suspicious, how can that be right if someone looks the wrong way or dressed the wrong way or skin colour of mannerisms, and you’re gonna ring the cops on them”, says Ngawai.
Te Kāea made several attempts to talk with the appropriate people regarding the matter from within the Police, but we are yet to receive a response.
However the spokesperson for Khatmandu had this to say;
The CFO of Kathmandu, Mark Todd told Te Kāea, “unfortunately in this instance the staff member made a mistake in her approach to Ngawai, and we have contacted the customer and apologised.”
Ultimately all Ngawai wants is for this blatant stereotyping to stop happening to her, her boys or any other innocent person.