P-dealing accusation humiliates Gisborne bar patron

By Talisa Kupenga

A Māori woman is seeking a formal apology from staff at a Gisborne bar for wrongfully accusing her of dealing methamphetamine on their premises over the long weekend.  Kylie Kahukiwa says she was publicly humiliated by the ordeal.

Ms. Kahukiwa was enjoying a night out with her partner at the Shipwreck Bar on Sunday before she says she was taken aside and interrogated in isolation, without police, by two off-duty staff dressed as hippies who had been drinking.

In a statement to Te Kāea, Shipwreck Bar says the matter was investigated by the bar staff on the night but due to a lack of evidence, it was determined no action was to be taken. However, a second patron overheard a staff discussion and made an assumption that led to Kylie being misidentified as the alleged dealer.

Ms. Kahukiwa says she's innocent and wants to clear her name.

"When I came out of the room I sat down by my partner and I was crying and she at that stage was not sure what was going on and I said that I had just been accused of dealing P. And she said 'well oh that makes sense now because the people and the patrons in the bar have were all saying 'where's that Māori girl? she's dealing crack'.'"

Ms. Kahukiwa says the accusation is harmful to both her and her partner's reputations as they are both well known in the community.

"I would hate for that to be compromised because of their incompetent staff. I felt that I was probably what you would stereotypically, that I was the only Māori there, but that was based on the colour of my skin only. People all looked at me everyone knew.”

Ms. Kahukiwa was humiliated further when she was told not to come back by management on a Facebook post that has since been removed from Shipwreck's page. A manager also confirmed with Kylie through a separate Facebook conversation that while management never drink while on duty, one of the "hippies" who interrogated her was a co-owner who had been drinking on the premises.

"Even if it was true I don't even see how that would be a process that they would promote. That it would be safe for two owners who have clearly been drinking to interrogate a P dealer."

A Gisborne police spokesperson says they did not receive any reports of an incident at Shipwreck and that members of the public should never take the law into their own hands.

Shipwreck says it was a member of the public in the bar that night who overheard a conversation and jumped to conclusions.  While they appreciate these allegations may have caused stress to Ms. Kahukiwa, Shipwreck was the venue the incident took place in and it did not make the allegations.

They also say if it had been determined that P was being offered and the dealer had been identified, which it says the evidence did not support, they would have contacted police to deal with the issue.