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Christchurch city councillor increases home security after threatening online comments

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 1 Aug 2023, 12:34pm
Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Christchurch city councillor increases home security after threatening online comments

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 1 Aug 2023, 12:34pm

A Christchurch councillor has revealed she has increased her security at home after becoming the target of threatening comments online.

Sara Templeton, who has served her local ward since 2016, told NZME this morning that “while one comment might not draw much attention, a pattern and large volume does”.

The comment in question was made on a Facebook post, which involved one person referencing her home address.

Templeton revealed similar threatening comments have also been posted on fellow councillor Aaron Keown’s social media, as well as another online page.

 “I have had to increase security at home and in other ways to make sure my family stays safe,” she said.

Councillor Sara Templeton has served her local ward since 2016.

Councillor Sara Templeton has served her local ward since 2016.

Christchurch City Council said in a statement it would be working closely with Templeton over her wellbeing and “what support she requires”.

The online attack has come after Templeton made a code of conduct complaint against Keown for social media posts he wrote back in April.

She claimed that his posts criticised the hearings panel process for altering streets around Te Kaha - the new city stadium under construction - claiming the panel was stacked to get a specific outcome.

Her complaint to Mayor Phil Mauger about his comments led to an independent investigation, which found Keown’s posts were critical of a staff member and questioned her integrity and impartiality.

The investigation also concluded the post would place the council and councillors in a bad light with the public.

Templeton wanted other councillors to recognise that as leaders in the city, what they post online has an impact on others.

Christchurch City Council will be meeting on Wednesday and is expected to discuss the issue.

Councillor Aaron Keown has been approached by NZME for comment.

The saga comes 16 months after Templeton launched a bid to identify the man responsible for misogynistic trolling of her and another female politician.

The Heathcote councillor said a persistent online harassment campaign targeted her in June and July 2021.

“The accounts disappeared once I went public - but were not gone completely as online footprints remain and I decided to try and find those behind them,” she wrote on Facebook at the time.

“It was clear even back then that the accounts were active in promoting right-wing political views, so the result wasn’t a surprise.”

Stuff reported in July last year Templeton calling out online bullies, stating that bullying was not “free speech”.

She told the media outlet there was a level of public scrutiny and criticism that went with her role, which she believed was completely appropriate, but said that putting up with attacks should not be part of anyone’s job.

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