Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has moved to ban a controversial Canadian pair known for their far-right views from speaking at any Auckland Council owned buildings, saying views that divide rather than unite are repugnant.
Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, who're best known for their far-right alternative views on everything from feminism, gender and immigration to Islam, are due to give a talk in Auckland next month.
Mr Goff has tweeted that the pair will not be speaking at any Auckland Council venues, saying these shouldn't be used to stir up ethnic or religious tensions.
"Views that divide rather than unite are repugnant and I have made my views on this very clear. Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux will not be speaking at any Council venues," the mayor wrote.
Mr Goff faces a raft of replies from critics accusing him of being "anti free speech and anti debate", describing his tweet as "authoritarian" and accusing him of "dividing rather than uniting".
"It's only called 'stirring up ethnic or religious tensions' when whites or Christians dare to speak up for themselves," one person wrote.
Another wrote: "Harden up Phil and hear alternate views".
Mr Goff responded: "Let me be very clear, the right to free speech does not mean the right to be provided with an @AklCouncil platform for that speech."
Earlier this year, Ms Southern was banned from entering the UK on the grounds of her involvement "in the distribution of racist material in Luton", according to the BBC.
The New Zealand Islamic community voiced their opposition to the visit last month, RNZ reports.
New Zealand Federation of Islam Associations president Hazim Arafeh says the federation has written letters to the Immigration Minister, Minister for Ethnic Communities and the Human Rights Commission asking for Lauren Southern to be denied entry.
"[She] abuses her right of freedom of speech. She's just going to give a talk in which she's just going to insult all of us," Mr Arafeh said.
"I don't think insulting Muslims comes under free speech, that's an abuse of freedom of speech.
"I'm talking on behalf of 50,000 to 60,000 Muslims in New Zealand who are going to face a very hard time by all the comments she is going to make."
A petition with more than 1500 signatures has also been launched on change.org appealing to the Immigration Minister to deny Lauren Southern entry.
However, Ms Southern, who is a journalist, activist and film-maker, said she should be allowed in.
"As soon as there are people who want to shut down free speech and freedom to come and even visit your nation just because of a differing opinion you can tell you've got the bug of progressivism," Ms Southern said.
"The bug of this almost very totalitarian left-wing ideology which will not end well for you."
She said herself and Mr Molyneux would talk about a range of issues affecting New Zealand.
"Immigration, western culture, the preservation of western culture and largely the infectious liberal or far-left ideologies that are coming and working their way into our media and why they will lead to the economic, social and political fall of our nations."
Ms Southern said what she had to say was not hate speech.
"[Hate speech] is just a fancy word to describe speech that is unpopular during that day and age," she said.
"A few hundred years ago, I wouldn't be able to question the divine rule of whatever god is in my land, I wouldn't be allowed to be pro-gay or pro-mixed race marriages, today it's you're not allowed to be anti-mass migration, you're not allowed to question crazy LGBTQ politics."