Thames-Coromandel Mayor Len Salt said he has no regrets over an email he unconventionally signed off with “go f*** yourself”.
His blunt missive was responding to a request for personal details of council staff, including their names and addresses.
The email exchange occurred last year but has only just come to light.
Speaking to Summer Times for rnz.co.nz, Salt said the email was written in July last year, in the aftermath of storms where staff were working “24 hours a day, seven days a week for weeks on end, and done a fantastic job of keeping our community safe”.
“To get this, which was essentially a threatening and abusive email, it kind of made my blood boil. So, I thought, I want to send a clear message, this is not acceptable, and the answer is ‘no’.
“I just used different words.”
After the email was shared on Facebook, Salt said it triggered a “wider discussion” amongst mayors and councils across the country, who he said have been dealing with abusive behaviour.
“We’ve had enough, essentially.”
Salt added if people want to engage in a respectful way that is “fantastic”.
“But if you want to abuse council staff and elected members that is not okay.”
Salt said the level of abuse towards council staff has “gotten worse” and “happens too often”.
“We need to be clear about the behaviours which will and will not be tolerated.”
The person who sent the email is a “repeat offender” according to the mayor.
Salt said he may not respond in the same fashion again but he believes it is important to “be firm” in situations like these.
He also said there is a “very small number” of people in the Thames-Coromandel community who “make up their own rules” and do not respect authority of the community and society.
“Unfortunately, sometimes that translates into extreme behaviour.”
Salt said if people believe this is not language becoming of a mayor, he would take that on the chin, and while he would use different language next time, he has “no regrets” over the wording of the email.
“If you’re going to threaten our staff, if you’re going to threaten our elected members, then I’ll have something to say about it.”
Additional reporting by rnz.co.nz