Don Brash heckled by protesters at Auckland University debate

The AM Show 10/08/2018

Protesters disrupted a debate Don Brash was taking part in at Auckland University on Thursday, which temporarily prevented him from speaking.

"Your hatefulness against Aotearoa is horrible," one protester said. "Hate speech is not free speech."

The demonstration comes Massey University vice-chancellor Jan Thomas cancelled Mr Brash’s speaking event over security fears. The cancellation has been criticised as an attack on free speech, with the Auckland University debate organised in response.

You protesters have absolutely affirmed the case for the affirmative.

Mr Brash was met by protesters in the university lecture hall, who were shouting over a megaphone as he attempted to take part in the debate.

"We stand against what he represents! We stand against racism!" one woman chanted, with another soon taking over to speak to Dr Brash in Te Reo.

Earlier, they had sung Māori waiata - a clear dig at a number of controversial comments he has made about Te Reo and racial inequality in New Zealand.

But those wanting to hear him speak began chanting "Don Brash", prompting the protesters to eventually quiet down.

Dr Brash was able to speak and claimed victory over those demonstrating against.

"You protesters have absolutely affirmed the case for the affirmative," he said. "You prove my case. I haven't had this much fun in a long time."

"You don't want to debate the issues, you just want to shout your opponents down."

Once Dr Brash finished speaking, the protesters left the event.

The head of Auckland University's Debating Society says he's pleased with how a debate hosting Don Brash went on Thursday night after it was disrupted by protestors.

Chris Ryan told The AM Show once everything had calmed down and protestors had left it was hard to choose a winner between the two opposing sides, but free speech won out on the day.

“When we created the debate we wanted to get people talking about the big issues in society," he said.

"I think freedom of speech is definitively after recent events a big issue and I think we only benefit from talking about it."

Mr Ryan believes Dr Brash got a much larger platform out of the controversy than if he had been allowed to attend the Massey event, but said that the protestors had a right to make themselves known at the debate.

Watch the full interview with Chris Ryan above. 

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