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New Zealand First MP Shane Jones stands by Indian students remark

Shane Jones is thumbing his nose at the prime minister, refusing to resile from his comments about Indian students ruining academic institutions in New Zealand.

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The New Zealand First MP and Cabinet minister received a very public and blunt message from Jacinda Ardern that his comments were "loose and wrong".

At her weekly press conference yesterday Ardern said she hadn't had a chance to speak to Jones yet, but that when she did she would be relaying her displeasure.

However, Jones is unrepentant, saying he was only expressing the views of some in the local Indian community.

He said most people would not describe his comments as racist.

"The younger generation in New Zealand, especially those who belong to 'Ngāti Woke,' have inherited the value of free speech," he said.

"But when they hear speech that is not in the vein of a carefully nuanced and perfectly couched terminology, then they are offended and they reach for the mallet of xenophobia."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters rejected criticism that Jones' comments were racist.

"Mr Jones was mirroring the comments that Indian people have passed onto us. So they couldn't be racist in that context can they?

"I'm talking about over a long period of time how the Indian people were concerned about what was going on in export education," Peters said.

National Party leader Simon Bridges said Ardern's move was not enough.

"Call me old-fashioned, but racist comments by a minister in her government who is senior ... he may be in another party, but he is her minister, her problem."

Jones said he understood why Ardern would be concerned, but added he was not speaking on behalf of the government.

"I speak on behalf of New Zealand First, in an MMP environment, in an election year, and I derive much of my information from the Indian community itself, who are horrified by these perilously high rates of migrant inner-community abuse," he said.

He stood by his comments, saying he wanted to highlight both the fraud in the education system and the exploitation of students.

"I challenge anyone in New Zealand to disagree with me in terms of the sad regularity with which we are seeing egregious cases of abuse, in the media, coming from the Indian migrant community upon their own. In fact, they're appearing in courts with more regularity than the Mongrel Mob."

Jones said he had a view on why some people thought his comments were racist.

"It's probably a generational style. I don't belong to the tribe of woke snobbery. I'm a 60-year-old Croatian-Māori from Kaitaia, beer drinking, plain speaking, red meat eating politician."

Yesterday Waitakere Indian Association President Sunil Kaushal said Jones' comments were racist and Ardern needed to ensure this sentiment didn't keep being repeated.

"This is a three-strikes-out kind of a thing, you know, she needs to really have a chat with her Cabinet and the leader of Shane Jones' party that his behaviour is unacceptable in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, diversity inclusive New Zealand. This is not who we are," he said.

Kaushal said the Indian community contributes so much to New Zealand's economy and society and these comments are unwise.

"We have doctors, lawyers, solicitors, you know, in very high professional areas and making these comments about the Indian population again is very immature and it's not the right thing to do," he said.

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