The Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem has called for the name of former Geraldine resident Willi Huber to be removed from Mt Hutt Ski Area.
The Otago Daily Times reported on August 15 that Willi Huber (96), who died in Geraldine recently, was a member of the Waffen-SS, which was declared a criminal organisation shortly after the end of World War 2.
Mr Huber was also called "The Father of Mt Hutt", for his work establishing the ski area near Methven.
Despite Mr Huber’s Nazi past, the Mt Hutt Ski Area manager James McKenzie was reported saying they wanted to continue to "respect his legacy".
Mr Huber has a ski run named in his honour as well as a Huber’s Hut restaurant.
Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem and renowned Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff said there should be no honouring of Mr Huber at Mt Hutt.
"There is no way that Mr Huber could not have been aware of the massive atrocities carried out by the SS where 1,500,000 ‘enemies of the Reich’, primarily Jews, were murdered individually during the years 1942-43," Dr Zuroff said.
"This is not a ‘legacy’ to be proud of and is an insult to all those murdered by the Nazis or who died fighting the Nazis.
"How lucky Mr Huber was to be able to make a ‘new start’, something that was not afforded to the victims murdered by the SS.
"We demand that Mt Hutt Ski Area removes the plaque honouring an unrepentant Nazi, who in a 2017 NZ TV interview said, ‘I give it to Hitler, he was very clever’ and admitted he volunteered to serve in the SS .
"We also demand Mt Hutt Ski Area rename the ski slope named after SS Officer Huber. Nazis should not have their ‘legacy’ remembered."
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre Israel's office was established to locate and help bring to justice Nazi war criminals around the world
An online petition has been launched calling for Mr Huber’s name to be removed at Mt Hutt.
As of yesterday more than 2200 people had signed.
Contacted by the New Zealand Herald, Mt Hutt Ski Area Manager James McKenzie said he understands the views of those who signed the petition, however added that Mt Hutt does not plan to remove Huber's name.
"We understand the views of people who have signed the petition. However we cannot change the fact Willi Huber was integral to the inception of Mt Hutt," McKenzie said.
"We have acknowledged him on mountain because his involvement in the founding of our ski area was significant and we recognise him as an important figure in our history."