The NRL has launched an investigation after a staffer was accused of making a racist comment towards a Tongan fan performing for the dance cam at the Mate Ma’a Tonga-Kangaroos Test match at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night.
The DJ for the Test, Alfred Aholelei, Al Goodie, posted about the incident on Facebook, saying the dance cam at halftime “was fun and looked like lots of people were getting super hyped and dancing to the music.”
“So much so that an official with an NRL Polo shirt was in the production room at the time was standing behind me staring at the big screens with a big smile on his face and then shouted these exact words “Dance Monkey Dance”, Aholelei wrote.
“My ears, my mind and my heart could not ignore the ignorance any more and I turned to this man and said, “Did you just say, Dance Monkey Dance”? Really?… It was a quick verbal shove that I put on this guy, but it was enough to let him know that what he said wasn’t “OK”.”
Aholelei said the man tried to apologise but he put his headphones on and continued to work.
“In three words this guy reduced my people to an animal that in some countries suffer cruel acts of abuse by being chained up, physically harmed and being told to “Dance”.
“This was more than a Game, for us Tongans/Pacific People, the acknowledgment by the NRL that MMT were worthy to play the best team in the world was massive, but the fight to be acknowledged as “People” is still going on,” Aholelei added.
“I will be taking this incident further formally, but for now I needed to get this off my chest.”
The post, in which Aholelei described the incident as his “lowest experience as a Tongan, as a Pacific man, as a Kiwi in a professional environment,” has been shared almost 3000 times as of this morning.
An NRL spokesperson told Newshub via a statement that it "takes the allegation very seriously and is investigating the circumstances."