An Instagram account anonymously sharing stories of alleged abuse in New Zealand’s music industry has been threatened with legal action.

Beneath The Glass Ceiling NZ shares stories of alleged sexual assault, harassment, bullying and abuse of power. 

The anonymous Instagram account began posting in March 2021, and has since shared over 60 stories, some of which have prompted formal investigations.

Posts by the group’s Australian counterpart Beneath The Glass Ceiling have led to a major review into the culture of the Australian music industry.

All the stories shared on the platform are anonymised, with the names and identifying details of those accused removed.

The owners of the account are also anonymous, but they have recently revealed one of their long-time supporters had been mistakenly identified as the owner of the group and threatened with legal action.

Shelley Te Haara. Photo: Tim D

Shelley Te Haara, an Auckland-based artist working in music promotion, was served a legal letter the week of Christmas advising that if the account was not deleted within three days then court action would follow.

Shelley, who uses they/them pronouns, told Re: the letter wrongly identifies them as being behind the account.

“I was surprised at first, and then to be completely honest, I thought it was funny,” they say. “Because this person is clearly wrong and doesn’t know me. If they think I have the time or mental capacity to do this work, they are seriously mistaken - those who run those pages deserve an award or probably a nice holiday honestly.”


The legal correspondence. Tap on the arrow for all pages. Photo: Beneath The Glass Ceiling.

The letter says it is from lawyers acting on behalf of a client who “at this stage, for very understandable reasons, does not want his identity disclosed to you. For that reason, we will refer to our client as X.”

They say X is the subject of an “extremely defamatory and damaging post” on the page, which has had a “serious and significant impact” on his personal life and business affairs.

It acknowledges the Beneath The Glass Ceiling posts do not directly name X but say the information included is “more than sufficient to lead to the identification of those who are referred to”.

The letter says the posts are defamatory and in breach of the Harmful Digital Communications Act “in a number of serious ways”, and advises that if all posts on the account that are defamatory or breach the harmful digital communications act are not deleted within three days, X will take court action.

When Shelley responded they were not the person behind Beneath The Glass Ceiling, they received a second letter advising them an extensive investigation was carried out by professional private investigators.

 “The irrefutable conclusion of that investigation was that you are the person responsible for running the account. The physical and digital evidence gathered in the course of the investigation identifies you personally,” the lawyers for X said.

Shelley says it can be “very creepy” to think someone was potentially following them and taking photos of them. “But I also thought it was funny, in that, I don’t run the page so this PI has clearly done a very bad job.”

Beneath The Glass Ceiling has not deleted the account, and Shelley says they have not heard anything further from X about court proceedings.

In an Instagram post, Beneath The Glass Ceiling said they will “not be threatened into silence” and will continue to share survivors’ stories.

Shelley says Beneath The Glass Ceiling should “100 percent” keep posting because it “allows survivors to share their stories and this may help them in their own healing process”.

“Just do the mahi and be better. This isn’t about cancel culture. It is about changing the environment we all work in so it can be a safe and thriving space for everyone.”

The legal firm representing X has been approached for comment.


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