A senior Grey Power official has complained about the planned increase in immigrants in Auckland - prompting claims from his national president that his submission is racist.
Auckland zone director Bill Rayner wrote in a submission to Auckland Council that the community and lifestyle of the region's older residents "is under serious threat from the rapid and huge changes in size and ethnic mix projections included in the Auckland Plan".
His submission also calls on Auckland Council to hold a forum to make decisions about the Super City's "optimum size and ethnicity".
Mr Rayner told the Herald he was not against immigration, but feared that its scale and speed was threatening to turn Auckland into "an Asian city" out of kilter with the rest of New Zealand.
The vice-president of Grey Power's central Auckland branch, David Shand, has taken strong issue with the submission and says the organisation "seems to have become a group of embittered old white people".
He has challenged Mr Rayner - who is part Maori - to define optimum ethnicity, calling it "a horrifying concept which would not be out of place in the apartheid era in South Africa".
Grey Power national president Roy Reid said he shared Mr Shand's concern about the submission, which would be challenged by at least two other board members at a meeting in Auckland next week.
He said he told Mr Rayner he thought part of his submission was racist, and he did not believe it reflected the views of the membership at large. "New Zealand is becoming a multi-racial society," Mr Reid said. "There's going to be a mixture of people from all over the world and it is something we are going to have to learn to live with."
Allegations of racism are easy to make, and mud sticks and is difficult to shift. Rather than describe Mr Rayner's views as racist, it's probably more accurate to call them xenophobic.
Which begs the observation; is it any wonder that Grey Power is such a fertile constituency for Winston Peters? After all, Peters has turned xenophobia into an electoral art form, and knows exactly how to scratch the itch.