Couple who used others' identities in politically charged posters fight to keep names secret

By Contributor

By Tracy Neal, Open Justice multimedia journalist, Nelson-Marlborough

A couple who falsely used the identities of two Māori to make it look as if it were them delivering a politically charged message are fighting to keep their names secret.

In a lengthy sentencing yesterday the pair's efforts to seek a discharge without conviction and continued name suppression failed, but they immediately appealed against the suppression order being lifted.

The pair were initially charged last May with obstructing the course of justice and have since admitted an alternative charge each of making available false documents. The charges were linked to flyers the pair made and distributed to Nelson businesses which included threats that people would be "hunted down" for appropriating Māori culture.

The flyers featured the faces of Māori academic Atama Moore (Moa), and television personality and tikanga Māori and kapa haka exponent, known then as Shane Te Hāmua Wilkins-Nikora. They also featured comments taken from the Facebook group Our Culture Is Not Your Pay Check! (sic) which highlighted the "alarming amount of non-Māori, non-Aotearoa businesses abusing and disrespecting things such as haka, kupu Māori, moko, kowhaiwhai, whakairo and tukutuku designs".

But neither of the men featured knew anything about it. Nor did they live in Nelson where the material was distributed in November 2020.

The pair responsible for distributing the flyers were caught after police identified their car in CCTV footage. Disguised in wigs and hats, they drove around at night, delivering the flyers to businesses and organisations in central Nelson.

It led to a search of their home where a pile of documents was found, including material relevant to the comments used on the flyer. The woman initially denied responsibility and blamed the two men portrayed, but ultimately admitted what she had done, and that she had "enjoyed" driving around delivering what was thought to be 18-20 flyers, although the exact number was not known.