New Zealand netball representative and Sky Sports commentator Kruze Tangira and his friends were caught in a fiery exchange in Grey Lynn Park, Auckland, with a woman who allegedly accused them of abducting a child they found crying.
"My friend helped him and was holding his hand trying to find the parent or the caregiver near the playground. This lady caught up to my friend – she was pushing the buggy with another child. She started to go off at my friend and accused her of trying to abduct the child."
This incident happened on a sunny Thursday afternoon when Tangira and his two friends were enjoying a picnic under Auckland's Alert Level 3. He told Te Ao Māori News the dispute then led to the woman who 'called us dumb ni**ers and told us to get vaccinated'. When the woman approached the crying child, he ran off.
"She threatened to call the police and that Māori are the reason that we're all in lockdown," he recalls.
A Pākēhā man who witnessed what she said approached Tangira and his friends to apologise.
Tangira says it's the first time he has experienced racism, and the incident left him shaken.
"My experience made me feel what our tīpuna (ancestors) felt back in the day. I couldn’t really sleep because it was terrifying."
His friend had recorded part of the incident on video and posted it to his Instagram. It only caught the exchange of him replying to the woman, "we are vaccinated" - she then said "really?"
It's not clear whether the woman was the child's mother, but a member of the public told him they will file a complaint with the police after Tangira received their response from the video he posted.
"Another witness had messaged me that she saw this woman hit the child over the head and dragged him over the concrete and other parents who were there saw it."
Te Āo Māori News reached out to NZ Police for comment.
Tangira recently commentated the netball series between the Silver Ferns and the Aotearoa Men and works in schools and communities to promote and develop netball for rangatahi. He has travelled overseas playing the sport he loves and says he never thought he'd experience racism in Aotearoa in the same way he has seen in other countries.