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A new Auckland University student group that has caused alarm among some students says it has been misunderstood.
Concerns were raised about the group named the Auckland University European Students Association with one particular issue raised being its motto, 'Our pride is our honour and loyalty'.
The Auckland University Students' Association (AUSA) said today in a statement the motto "appears similar to the English translation of the motto of the Nazi SS", which is 'My honour is called loyalty'.
However, the new group posted to its Facebook page today explaining it is a non profit organisation "that aims to promote European culture on campus through activities such as medieval re-enaction, outdoor events and concerts with an European theme as well as European cuisine feasts".
Some gross misunderstanding of what our club is about- Auckland University European Students Assoc
The group said there "has been some gross misunderstanding of what our club is about".
The President of the Auckland University European Students Association told 1 NEWS he had received "threats of violence".
He said the misunderstanding is "total nonsense", telling 1 NEWS "we condemn racism".
No one associated with the club is in any way Nazi, or believes in Nazi ideals, he said.
The group was started on January 10 with the focus on medieval reenactments.
The president, who asked not to be named, said the slogan was originally chosen because it sounded strong and "looked cool", but in hindsight might have been "stupid".
The new group plan to change it in the near future.
"We are open to everybody," and it does not matter what nationality people are, he said.
The president said "nothing is set in stone" yet, but the group hope to partake in a number of outdoor activities including hiking and camping.
The group has been approved to have an Orientation Week stall next week due to the practice of granting spaces to clubs who emerge over summer during a time when the affiliation process is not running, 1 NEWS was told.
The group is not yet formally affiliated with AUSA or supported by the university, but will be signing up new members next Friday.
New groups have to front up to students explaining their intentions and then students decide whether the group will become part of the student community.
If a group is denied affiliation it will not have the privileges of student groups and essentially cannot be an Auckland University student group.
AUSA President Will Matthews said it sends a "clear and symbolic" message if students choose to stop a group from becoming affiliated, and hopes students will take part in the decision.
Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said earlier today in a statement she will be keeping an eye on the group.
"I am a Kiwi with European heritage and I'm very proud of my Irish roots – but being proud of my heritage doesn't mean limiting the rights of anyone else."
The Auckland University Students' Association was made aware of the new group earlier this week by concerned students.
In a statement released today, Mr Matthews said AUSA respects free speech at the University of Auckland, but it also shares students' alarm.
"The presence of a group that uses such historically evocative imagery, particularly in a time of fear and oppression all over the world undermines their safety," he said.