A group of boys on the Gold Coast with Kiwi connections say they were left humiliated by the “bullying” actions of a security guard at a large shopping mall.
The group of friends says they were targeted by a Trident Security Guard at Australia Fair mall who followed them around the centre as they looked for somewhere to eat.
They are of Māori, Pasifika and Asian heritage, and say the guard tried to pin them for rules that weren’t applied to other patrons.
“A lady had spotted him following us when we were walking to the foodcourt... she was kind of watching him the whole time and thinking that he was a bit iffy, that his intentions weren’t good,” Carlos Brown told TVNZ1's Te Karere.
Carlos said he’s “embarrassed” that people who saw what happened may have seen the group “as those angry boys”.
The mother of Jobi Palalangi, another of the boys, believes it’s a case of discrimination.
“They were treated less than everybody else that was there and that really breaks my heart,” Angela Palalangi said.
Australia Fair told Te Karere the guard acted outside their code of conduct and has been removed from his position at the mall.
Trident is investigating, and says a private apology has been offered to those involved.
The boys say they have forgiven the guard, but remain saddened by what happened and want to know why they were discriminated against.
They don’t want him to lose his job, and are keen to understand if he’s had issues with Polynesian youth previously.
Angela said she wanted the boys to learn from the experience as well.
“We can use this as an opportunity to educate our boys that if you know you’re right, you can respectfully stand up for yourself and hopefully minimise the chance of this happening to anybody else’s kids."