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Auckland university club denies Nazi links

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/03/2017

A new University of Auckland student group facing backlash over the use of symbols associated with white supremacists says it's all a " gross misunderstanding".

The European Students Association has faced backlash after the university announced the group would be allowed to take part in recruitment with other clubs during orientation week.

The Auckland University Students' Association on Thursday said the group had been flagged by a number of students for slogans and materials on its Facebook page considered "typical of a nationalist 'white pride' and fascist organisation".

It said the group had used the slogan "our pride is our honour and loyalty", which closely resembled a motto used by the Nazi SS.

The Facebook page also included Celtic symbols used by supremacist groups, and featured artworks of Captain Cook and Germany unification.

AUSA said its president, Will Matthews, had flagged the concerns with the university Proctor, but had been told that while there was a potential for offence it had not committed any directly offensive acts.

"AUSA respects the importance of free speech at the University of Auckland, but we share the alarm of students that this offensive group will be sharing our campus."

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy also said she would be "keeping an eye" on the group.

"I am a Kiwi with European heritage, I'm very proud of my Irish roots - but this doesn't mean limiting the rights of anyone else," she said.

But in a statement the group said there had been a "gross misunderstanding".

It said it planned activities such as "medieval re-enaction, outdoor events and concerts with an European theme as well as European cuisine feasts".

"We are a strictly non-political organisation."

It's president, who refused to be identified over safety concerns, told 1News the group was in no way associated with Nazis and would consider changing its slogan.

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