- Additional reporting by Rukuwai Tipene-Allen in Pōneke
A booklet presenting an inaccurate interpretation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori-Crown relations has appeared in letterboxes in an upmarket Auckland suburb.
The 32-page booklet, entitled Are we being Conned by the Treaty Industry?’, was discovered by a St Mary’s Bay resident last night. The publication attempts to demolish 24 so-called myths including saying the treaty was not a partnership, that there is harm in co-governance and that Aotearoa isn't the Māori name for New Zealand.
The booklet claims Māori are not indigenous to Aotearoa and that full sovereignty was ceded to the Crown with the 1840 signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It claims the idea colonisation was bad for Māori is a 'myth'.
"I’m just shocked people are able to put this sort of rubbish out there," the resident told Te Ao Māori News.
The booklet purports to be produced by failed political party 1Law4All. The party was launched in 2013 advocating the removal of references to the Treaty of Waitangi in the nation’s laws.
The party was deregistered by the Electoral Commission in 2014 having not contested an election or tabled a candidate for contention. A Facebook post said the resignation of four of its five board members triggered the demise.
Opposes 'special rights'
1Law4All’s current website is registered to Perry Spiller of Hastings. Calls and emails to Spiller went unanswered.
Former ACT and National Party leader Don Brash wrote an extract for another pamphlet distributed by the group in 2017.
Brash is an advocate for the Hobson’s Pledge lobby group which opposes what it calls "special rights for 'Māori’".
Today Brash told Te Ao Māori News he had no affiliation with the current incarnation of 1law4all but said he may have seen the booklet "via a third party".
Literature distributed by the group in 2019 was found to breach the rules of the Advertising Standards Authority after a complaint from a Pt Chevalier resident.
'Bewildered and flabbergasted'
Political leaders were quick to denounce the document.
In a statement, the National Party’s Christopher Luxon said: "This anonymous document being circulated is inflammatory.
"We condemn any organisation or publication that denigrates any group of New Zealanders whether they be Māori or one other of the 200 plus ethnicities represented here in New Zealand."
Only yesterday the Nats' leader suggested a referendum on the use of the word 'Aotearoa' could be worthwhile, she told media. "We could probably go to a referendum on [it] and ask people what they want. People are starting to get quite tetchy about it," Collins said.
Today her caucus colleague, Chris Bishop, defended his leader's comments saying he thought Collins was merely referring to the "volume of the reaction" his other caucus colleague Stuart Smith received on his opinion that the name should go to the public for a decision on its use.
Greens co-leader Marama Davidson is rubbishing the National leader's view and is pointing the finger at National, telling it to take responsibility for the distribution of racist rhetoric. She told media today that 'the latest move from Collins is "just another hideous attempt at her failing leadership".
Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little commented on the group, saying it was made up of "dumb people" while Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi said to use the publication as toilet paper.
Westpac bank account
The pamphlet solicits supporter donations to a Westpac bank account held in Silverdale. Te Ao Māori News asked Westpac for comment on the account and what checks take place for someone to open an account.
Westpac called the situation a "complex issue" that it would look into. It did not get back to Te Ao Māori News before deadline.
The Advertising Standards Authority says it has received two complaints about the booklet so far but, as it is before the board, it is unable to comment further.
"A decision will be released via our website," a spokesperson said.
Te Ao Māori News tried many times to contact the company that published the booklet, Black Cat Graphic to no avail. The company is not listed on the New Zealand companies register.
The 1 Law for All website lists a donation account with Westpac. The bank told us it is looking into it.
Te Ao Māori News sent an email to the address provided on the website. The email bounced back. We filled in the message form asking for an interview and have not received any response.
Meanwhile, the St Mary's Bay resident says she is "bewildered and flabbergasted" by the lengths people will go to, to "push their propaganda".
"I object to people coming sticking this bull**** in my letterbox," she said.
This rhetoric has been floating around the motu for a while now. Māori in and out of the House have been calling some of the debates in the House and the rhetoric coming out of it as racist.
Davidson says the National campaign, Demand the Debate, is "lazy politics that is calling up and igniting racism and ignorant thoughts for Māori communities".
Bishop disagrees and doesn't think it's disrespectful to Māori to demand a debate.
However, the man who is rising in the popularity stakes as a future prime minister is taking it all in his stride. David Seymour told Te Ao Mārama, that his view of the publication is that people were trying to
rewrite and relitigate" history.
But at the end of the day, Māori are the core of the political mudslinging and the parliamentary precinct will need more than a broom to clean up the mess.