Racist tirade caught on video - now abuser says he's sorry

A NEW Zealand man who subjected a taxi driver to a racist tirade says he wants to meet his victim to apologise - but he still has issues with Muslims and fears "what we have let past our borders".

Greg Shuttleworth, a technician for an engineering company, yesterday said he regretted the verbal attack on Pakistan-born, former Aucklander Tariq Humayun early on Friday.

In an exchange that was captured on camera and has gone viral on the internet, Mr Shuttleworth describes the driver as an "Islam prick" and says: "F*** off back to where you come from".

He tells him he will pay the $7 fare when, "you tell me that you'll piss off back to the country where you come from ... you shouldn't be in New Zealand in the first place ... we don't require your Muslim bulls*** in this country."

Yesterday - as condemnation and criticism against him mounted and police said they would investigate - Mr Shuttleworth said it was a "one-off situation" which involved too much alcohol and for which he was now paying the price.

But he was still concerned about Muslims in New Zealand. "They don't stand in a pretty light overseas ...

And I am worried about what they've come to New Zealand [for] and what we let past our borders."

He admitted he could have handled things better. "It was the wrong thing said at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. There's better ways to go about voicing your opinion."

Mr Shuttleworth, who confirmed he had previously been before the courts for drink-driving, said he had tried to make contact with Mr Humayun to apologise. "He doesn't want to speak to me and I understand why but I've tried to apologise and I'm very remorseful for what I've done."

Many Herald readers wrote in yesterday, saying the passenger's comments made them ashamed as New Zealanders. Broadcaster Kim Hill wrote: "I wish HE could get thrown out of NZ. He makes me ashamed."

Mr Humayun's employer, Safinah Mohammed, said verbal attacks on drivers were not uncommon, a concern also echoed by the New Zealand Taxi Federation.

The company had about 12 cabs and around 50 per cent of its drivers were of ethnic origin. They came from a variety of backgrounds including Pakistani, Indian, Fijian and Maori.

Mrs Mohammed made the video public because of the severity of the abuse and because the passenger had targeted religion, she said.

Mr Humayun had taken the rest of Friday night off and was still stressed, she said.

John Hart, of the Taxi Federation, said such abuse - often racial - was not uncommon.

"They are not committing an offence if it's only abuse. It's where it's actually physical violence where the cameras help out."

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy applauded Mr Humayun's decision to speak out because people needed to be held accountable for such abuse. "There's an avenue for him [Mr Humayun] to go to the police if the guy refused to pay the fare. But in terms of racial abuse, the threshold is very high."

Last night Invercargill police said they would be looking into the matter and hoped to speak to Mr Humayun.

The Southland Muslim Association said the comments were disappointing and saddening.

President Dr Wali Kamali said he was happy to meet Mr Shuttleworth, so he could learn about the Muslim religion and "undo some of the damage".