Pamphlet ‘racist and stupid’
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.