TODAY |

Facebook group following unruly tourists drops 'gypsy' from name after hate speech complaints

A Facebook group that was set up to follow the infamous unruly travellers who caused havoc around New Zealand last month has decided to change its name from including the term "gypsy".

The tourists caused national outcry after leaving rubbish at Auckland's Takapuna Beach, and allegedly causing problems at several restaurants and on a plane. One of the members was also charged with theft.

Page admin Bart Blithe said both users and admins of the page, now called Travelling Scammers NZ, had been banned several times after being reported for hate speech, so he decided to change the name of the group yesterday morning to avoid it being shut down altogether.

Mr Blithe believes friends and family of the tourists had been tracking the page, which has almost 5000 followers, reporting terms which could be offensive.

Terms included pikey, gypsy, scum and cockroaches, he said, adding that "a lot of descriptive words have been used to describe the group".

"They don't want publicity about what they do," he said, describing the complaints as a blatant attempt to get the page taken down. 

No one had complained about the name of the group - just user posts and replies - but changing the name from Gypsy Scammers NZ to Travelling Scammers NZ was done as a precaution following a Stuff article which highlighted the issue, he said.

The term "traveller" was also avoided when deciding on a new name to keep clear of any offence, too.

Mr Blithe's personal account had been shut down several times as a result of the page, he said. The time accounts could be shut down could vary from 24 hours to 30 or more days, he said.

Your playlist will load after this ad

The tourists first shot to infamy when footage of them allegedly littering and abusing locals at an Auckland beach was posted on Facebook. Source: 1 NEWS

Facebook had not put a total ban on the term "gypsy", but the group was targeted for using the word as hate speech, Mr Blithe said.

"The ridiculous thing is that Facebook is taking this approach to our group," he said.

"There are gypsy fairs and things, we found pages ourselves. There are profiles everywhere but we're getting hammered," he said. "Their [the tourists'] friends and supporters report everything they can."

One member of the group called out the name change as "hypocrisy", citing television show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding being allowed.

However, admins of the page have been trying to control the use of derogatory terms, including posts asking people not to use the terms.

Your playlist will load after this ad

They’re investigating after a group was filmed leaving a pile of rubbish at the beach, before an angry confrontation with locals. Source: 1 NEWS

"We're not vigilantes," Mr Blithe said. "We're just a group of concerned citizens that have banded together for the common good."

The page was about raising awareness to the public, and holding the group to account, he said.

Upon returning home to the UK last Monday, members of the group told media there they were the ones who had been victimised during the trip through New Zealand. 

"We’ve done nothing wrong, it’s been the holiday from hell," Larry Doran told the Daily Mail. "We couldn’t go nowhere. You couldn’t call it a holiday the way we were treated."

The Honorary Consul General for Ireland has said New Zealand media's coverage of the family, who were initially identified as Irish but later denied it, has reinforced hurtful stereotypes and has called for an apology.

Your playlist will load after this ad

1 NEWS reporter Kim Baker Wilson was at the Hamilton District Court. Source: 1 NEWS