American R ‘n’ B singer Chris Brown has thanked New Zealand women’s advocates for supporting his plan to perform in the country, despite a domestic violence conviction which could see him banned.
Brown was convicted in 2009 of assault and threatening to kill his then girlfriend, singer Rihanna, and sentenced to five years’ probation.
His conviction means he may be refused entry to New Zealand, even though tickets for a December 18 concert in Auckland went on sale this week.
In order to perform, Brown needs to apply for a special dispensation from immigration officials, which as of last week had not been granted.
But the Grammy winner has found support from an unlikely source in Maori women’s advocates, who said Brown appears to have reformed and could send a powerful message against domestic violence.
A string of high-profile advocates, such as former Women’s Refuge chief Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, have backed Brown and offered to hold a traditional Maori welcome for him.
Former Maori Party chief Dame Tariana Turia said Maori youth could relate more to an anti-domestic violence message from 26-year-old Brown than one delivered by indigenous elders.
“Good, bad, ugly or otherwise, the truth of it is that young people are more likely to be in tune with Chris Brown than they are with one of us,” the 71-year-old said this week.
Brown acknowledged the “amazing” Maori women’s stance on Friday.
“Nothing more amazing than strong women,” he tweeted.
“Thank you to Dame Tariana Turia and everyone who showed their support in NZ.”
Support for Brown in New Zealand is not unanimous, with government lawmaker Judith Collins saying last month: “We’ve got enough wife-beaters in this country, he should just bugger off.”
Earlier this week Brown was blocked from entering Australia because of his past. He has 28 days to appeal the decision.
The performer offered to raise awareness of domestic violence there if his “One Hell of a Nite” tour in December is allowed to go ahead.