Cathy Casey, one of the Councillors to write a letter to Santa Parade Board Chairman and Auckland's Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Michael Barnett, said she was “very disappointed” and suggested political and trade motivations with China were behind the decision.
“It is a political objection, they might call it something else, but I'm in no doubt about it. From the correspondence in the past I've had with Michael Barnett is that he sees the Falun Dafa organisation as political and some threat to China and trade relationships between China and New Zealand. And I think he gets all his hats mixed up. He gets his Santa hat mixed up with his Chamber of Commerce hat.
The letter of denial sent to the 60-piece marching band's applicants doubled as a media statement from the Auckland Children’s Christmas Parade Trust released 15 Oct. and said, in part: “We are not prepared to have this family occasion hijacked by other organisations and their agendas.”
Ms. Casey said the letter was “quite rude” and failed to take into account Falun Dafa's successful entry in both the Wellington and Panmure parades last year.
“The marching band was there [at Panmure] and they were just another attraction. There is no hidden agenda here. This is simply to allow Falun Dafa to participate the same as we allow every other Chinese group in the city to participate, and there wasn't just one, there was at least half a dozen.
“So, I am not impressed as one of the governors of Auckland City to learn they've been turned down again,” she said. A day earlier, the marching band was accepted into Wellington's Santa parade, “If Michael Barnett does not know who this group is he should be speaking to them directly, not taking advice from the Chinese Embassy's website or whatever it is that he's looking for his information.”
The Auckland City Councillors have not decided what their next action will be. Michael Barnett is currently overseas and members of the organising team refused to comment on the decision.
Falun Dafa is a spiritual practise that has been persecuted in China by the ruling Chinese Communist Party for nine years.