I’m offended when people make, on social media, an all out assault on him as a person, some judging and even condemning a man’s whole life on the basis of one comment, which he knows was wrong, and has apologised for.
It just doesn’t seem logical that a racist person would be described by Monty Betham as being “like a father to me”, or that Peter Fatialofa’s widow, Anne, would write to me, “No way, to the moon and back, is Peter Leitch racist.” Or that way back in his Mangere East club days in the 1970s one of the all time Kiwi greats Olsen Filipaina would give his first test jersey to Peter because, “he was like a second father to me.”
But let’s be more specific.
Did the same people who bagged Peter this week consider him a racist in 1999 when, with The Mad Butcher Suburban Newspapers Community Trust, enough money was raised to pay for 120 South Auckland children, the vast majority Pasifika and Maori kids, to have glue ear operations in one weekend at Middlemore hospital, wiping out a five year waiting list in two days?
Sounds like a horrible racist indeed.
Did anyone in the cash strapped Hawkes Bay Maori league sides of the 1980s think he was a racist when he supplied enough free meat to feed the team at Auckland tournaments for up to three days? Hawkes Bay official and social worker Denis O’Reilly told me in 2007: “The boys got such a buzz from meeting Peter, and from the aroha of the man. One time in Auckland we had so much kai we had to invite the wahine team over.”
One of my reasons for liking Peter is that when I first knew him he wasn’t very rich, and not that famous, but even then he was generous, and he was especially generous with his help for ordinary people.
That’s how he got involved with the Mangere East league club, an organisation that’s blue collar to the core. He was asked for sponsorship money in the late 1960s, but, short of cash, offered them meat for raffles instead.
He’d never played the game, but soon found the club members were, like himself, “working class people. Like me, the guys aren’t from silver spoon families.” That love affair with the people of league continues to this day with the Warriors.
And did all those SJWs on Twitter and Facebook consider this before they condemned him on the basis of one person’s allegations in a video.