Pam­phlet ‘racist and stupid’

The Southland Times - - National News - Am­ber-Leigh Woolf and Anna Loren

An aca­demic says anti-Maori pam­phlets distributed in Auck­land are hate­ful, but not ‘‘hate speech’’ un­der cur­rent leg­is­la­tion, and says it’s an im­por­tant dis­cus­sion New Zealan­ders need to have.

The pam­phlets, head­lined ‘‘One Treaty, One Na­tion’’ were distributed to homes in Auck­land’s Point Che­va­lier over the past two weeks, bear­ing the slogans ‘‘no spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tion of part-Maoris in lo­cal govern­ment’’ and ‘‘end the stran­gle­hold that one mi­nor­ity group has over the cul­ture and life of the na­tion’’.

‘‘The ben­e­fits of coloni­sa­tion for Maoris, lift­ing them out of a vi­o­lent Stone Age ex­is­tence, far out­weighed any neg­a­tive con­se­quences,’’ it reads.

Point Che­va­lier woman Emma Vere-Jones com­plained to the Ad­ver­tis­ing Stan­dards Author­ity after a pam­phlet was dropped in her let­ter­box.

‘‘I did it be­cause I hoped that there could be some sort of re­course for it, I sup­pose,’’ she said. ‘‘If you let smaller stuff go, then even­tu­ally the prob­lem be­comes big­ger.’’

Vere-Jones said she was of­fended by the pam­phlet’s lan­guage and its over­all an­tiMa¯ ori tone.

She also con­sid­ered re­port­ing it to the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion, but was not sure if it would fit un­der its re­mit, she said.

‘‘Their rules say it’s not enough that the ma­te­rial of­fends, it has to have the po­ten­tial to incite hos­til­ity in those who hear or read it. It sort of made me feel like maybe they only looked at things that were more ag­gres­sive.’’

Massey Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor Stephen Croucher said the Christchurch mosque at­tacks had height­ened the pub­lic’s sen­si­tiv­ity to racism.

‘‘I don’t think the New Zealand def­i­ni­tion is clear enough to call [the con­tents of the pam­phlet] hate speech ... it’s hate­ful, but it’s not hate speech.’’

If the group could be stopped from putting out pam­phlets, then there would need to be a lit­mus to mea­sure other ma­te­rial too, he said.

‘‘The ques­tion is what’s the line ... who de­ter­mines that line?’’

Croucher, who is from the United States, said cases against racist ma­te­rial may fail in the US courts be­cause it was con­sid­ered free­dom of speech, not hate speech or in­cit­ing vi­o­lence.

‘‘I personally see it as racist and stupid. It can be harm­ful but I don’t know what we can re­ally do about it legally.’’

An­drew Lit­tle, who is oversee­ing a re­view of hate speech laws in the wake of the Christchurch ter­ror­ist at­tack, ear­lier told The New Zealand Her­ald he thought the pam­phlet was racist and ped­dled myths about pre-Euro­pean Ma¯ ori so­ci­ety.

‘‘If it demon­strates any­thing, it is that the au­thor of it is an ig­no­rant fool,’’ he said.

The pam­phlet said fur­ther in­for­ma­tion could be found in books such as One Treaty, One Na­tion – writ­ten by Hugh Barr, for­mer ACT leader Don Brash and oth­ers.

It also asked for do­na­tions to a cam­paign called Rolling Thun­der, which has a bank ac­count in Orewa.

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