A Sydney man has triggered a rash of anti-Aussie sentiment across the Tasman after banning an entire New Zealand town from staying at his motel.
Steve Donnelly, the Australian owner of Supreme Motor Lodge in the central North Island town of Palmerston North, has put a block on bookings from any of the 16,000 residents of Wainuiomata, close to the capital, Wellington.
Donnelly, who has lived in New Zealand for two years, claimed the town was full of young “troublemakers” who consistently trashed his motel during visits for sporting events, and says all residents are now banished.
But his ban has some New Zealanders spitting tacks.
They say it\’s stupid, unfair and outrageous, and have labelled Donnelly the country\’s Basil Fawlty, the bumbling John Cleese character in the Fawlty Towers series.
Newspapers have run headlines like “Australian bans town” and a senior Labour politician, Trevor Mallard, born and bred in Wainuiomata, said: I\’m not surprised he\’s Australian”.
“His actions show the sort of blind prejudice I thought we didn\’t have in New Zealand anymore”.
Another group of prominent residents said they planned to book in just to spite the Australian.
“Give me the number and I\’ll go and book myself in for the week,” one man told the Dominion Post newspaper.
Donnelly, for his part, says he\’s furious that New Zealanders are making a point about his home country.
“Whenever something goes on that the Kiwis don\’t like they seem to take great pleasure in pointing out the Australian connection,” he told AAP.
“But I don\’t get it. Is it that I\’m nasty? Is it that I\’m short sighted or arrogant or intolerant, or what?
“Me being an Aussie has got absolutely nothing to do with the awful behaviour of these people, that\’s for certain.”
Donnelly said visiting sports teams from the town had consistently behaved badly, spitting, swearing and playing loud music at night.
“I\’m not saying there aren\’t any nice people in Wainuiomata, but plenty of them are bad and we don\’t want them here,” he said.
The Motel Association of New Zealand said Supreme was well within its rights to ban a town.