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'Recovering racist' says NZ is raising ignorant Pākehā

"We are the problem" - Those are the words from a self-described "recovering racist" who says New Zealand is raising ignorant Pākehā.

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Former New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd says his racism was fuelled by fear. Source: Breakfast

Former New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd told Breakfast his racism was fuelled by fear, but this morning he shared his story to encourage other Kiwis to embrace New Zealand's history.

It comes as Breakfast this morning shared a handful of complaints emailed in daily about the use of te reo Māori on the show, as well as 1 NEWS and Midday, some of which even include remarks about the way some TVNZ presenters look.

The emails shared on air today were some of the kinder ones which were appropriate to broadcast.

They included complaints about speaking te reo without subtitles as "disrespectful", despite presenters translating the language in English, and saying "Māori language week has finished". They also shared complaints which say Māori have their own television channel.

Judd said hearing those complaints read out this morning was "triggering" and reminded him of his old self.

"To those emails you just read out, that was me. I was in a way raised by my country to react with ignorance, with an attitude, dismissive, rude and quite frankly and honestly racist," he told Breakfast host Jenny-May Clarkson.

"I was raised by my Pākehā country to react and respond in a certain way and it's wrong, it was wrong then and it's wrong now and it will always be wrong and it is hurtful and damaging.

We are the ones that came to this land and destroyed and took away, or attempted to take away, and in so many ways continue to take away. - Andrew Judd

"For me the conversation is actually non-Māori to non-Māori, Pākehā to Pākehā. Lets be honest, we are the problem. We are the ones that came to this land and destroyed and took away, or attempted to take away, and in so many ways continue to take away - just look at those emails," he said.

"It has to stop. We have to challenge each other."

Judd said his own realisation took him on a journey to embrace New Zealand's history and indigenous language, which he now calls beautiful.

"For me, I'm a 56-year-old male, pale Pākehā. I had to take a journey that took me on a challenge within myself," he said.

"That journey was challenging because why did I react towards anything Māori, te reo Māori, our past, our history? ... That journey had to be honest and brutal within myself."

Judd said he was "broken" because if he was overseas he would embrace the culture and learn the language, but not at home.

But through his personal journey, Judd said he found ignorance in himself and racism that was fuelled by fear.

"Hearing you read those emails, hearing in your voice the pain and the hurt that my previous attitude was doing to indigenous people. Who did I think I was? I for the first time in my life saw that my attitude and the way that I responded was hurtful and I want to be better," he said.

"What I found, once I was honest with myself, was beautiful, the Māori language is beautiful, it makes me feel more connected and I'm just embracing it and love it."

Also on Breakfast, Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said te reo as a language told a story, for example of place names, about who was there and the environment, including the water and mountains.

"We have nothing but beauty to embrace with learning our te reo Māori," she said.

Marae carving. Source: istock.com

However, Davidson said the examples of negative feedback emailed to TVNZ every day was "emotionally triggering".

"What we've seen though with more people naturalising te reo Māori and te reo Māori faces in our public broadcasting spaces, in our public spaces is that is confronting some people's status quo and people need to understand shifting your status quo and what you thought it meant to be a New Zealander is not going to be as fearful as you're making it out to be.

"Embracing our country, our past is the only way we can have a more connected and cohesive united future together."

Davidson said people like Judd had an inspiring role to play. 

Andrew Judd. Source: Breakfast

"There are some people who that fear, unlike with our friend Andrew (Judd), will remain cold and hard, there are so many, many more who are just standing on the sidelines a little bit, maybe a little bit inquisitive and want some encouragement to feel I can be included, this is inclusive in embracing te reo Māori."