Hobson’s Pledge a ‘divisive group of haters’

Hobson’s Pledge, led by Don Brash, has always been controversial. The Māori Council wants them investigated, believing that an accumulation of statements and behaviour justifies a complaint being made to the Human Rights Commission. saying they are inciting racism and violence.

This is getting into tricky territory in the free speech versus hate speech debate.

Stuff: ‘Divisive group of haters’ in Hobson’s Pledge must be investigated, Māori Council says

The New Zealand Māori Council said on Wednesday it had asked the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to investigate the group, which is led by former National Party and Act leader Don Brash.

Hobson’s Pledge was formed in 2016 and campaigns against what it says is preferential treatment given to Māori.

New Zealand Māori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki said the council had made the move because “no one’s called them out”.

Plenty of people have criticised Brash and Hobson’s Pledge, but this may be the first time a complaint against them has been made to the HRC.

He hoped the HRC would censure the group.

He said the “accumulation” of Hobson’s Pledge’s behaviour and statements, rather than any one incident, influenced the decision to go to the HRC.

Tukaki also said Hobson’s Pledge was “nothing more than a divisive group of haters who would do nothing more than send us all back to the dark ages”.

“They may wear suits and drive around in late model expensive European cars … but they are nothing more than a gang of misfits that seek to incite hate and divide the country.

“They should be held to account,” Tukaki said.

“They’re creating an environment…in which hate is breeding and not just breeding but duplicating and replicating.”

Tukaki said the Māori Council was concerned that comments Hobson’s Pledge leaders had made in public constituted “incitement to both violence and racism, hate and the segregation of New Zealand society”.

This has a risk of creating publicity for what is  fringe group that is usually ignored.

Hobsons’ Pledge spokesman Don Brash said claims of racism were “absolutely outrageously stupid” and he was taking legal advice.

“It’s a serious accusation … not only of racism, but also of advocating violence.”

“I’m deeply saddened that the Māori Council, which used to be a group of eminent and respected people, should descend to this kind of silly name-calling.

“I have a four-year-old Korean Hyundai, for the sake of the record.”

An odd comment. Owning a particular brand of car doesn’t rule out being a racist.

Brash said if the HRC censured Hobson’s Pledge it would prove the Commission “has absolutely lost its marbles”.

“We’re in favour of a single standard of citizenship for all.”

That’s probably an impossible ideal.

He said the Māori Council was probably attacking Hobson’s Pledge because the lobby group “was actually having an impact”.

The complaint is that Hobson’s Pledge is having a bad impact – “They’re creating an environment…in which hate is breeding and not just breeding but duplicating and replicating.”

I doubt that Brash and Hobson’s Pledge are having much if any impact beyond those who already have hates about what they perceive as unequal treatment of Māori. I doubt they are breeding any more of it.

I don’t think that Brash is a hater, he’s just trying to preach to the already converted who think that non-Māori are somehow disadvantaged because attempts are being made to address disadvantages for Māori.

Hobson’s Pledge versus National

The Hobson’s Pledge campaign is targeting the National led government. From Reddit:

Meet the people behind Hobson’s Pledge Trust:

Andy Oakley , Casey Costello , David Round , Don Brash , Fiona Mackenzie , John Bell, Kevin Moratti , Larry Wood , Mike Butler , Mike McVicker , Peter Shirtcliffe , Sarah Taylor , Tom Johnson , Wendy Clark

Why are they attacking National and Bill English? If they lose the election and Labour+Greens get in then they are less likely to get any changes they want.

The answer may be Winston Peters.

If NZ First hold the balance of power in a new government Peters is unlikely to concede on any ‘Hobson’s Pledge’ issues, and may demand changes that Hobson’s Pledge want, whether he goes with National or with Labour-Greens.

Someone else trashing National and English and promoting Winston Peters is Whale Oil.

Is there any connection Hobson’s Pledge and Whale Oil?

Earlier this month on WO: Why are only Maori being helped to get drivers licences?

This quotes Hobson’s Pledge and then comments:

This is clearly a racist policy, why is the government promoting it other than as a bribe to the Maori party?

Last month:  Hobson’s Pledge questions why we are revisiting the Foreshore and Seabed issue

This quotes Hobson’s Pledge, including:

The National Government in effect put coastal claims back on the table as a sop to the Maori Party when it helped repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act in return for support, Ms Costello said.

Prime Minister Bill English has uttered soothing words that few of these claims would succeed.

The Prime Minister has confirmed that some groups will be awarded such rights.

The Prime Minister is yet to explain why some New Zealanders will be awarded property rights far beyond those exercised in 1840, with the ability to exclude all other New Zealanders should they so wish, Ms Costello said.

‘Cameron Slater’ adds:

Bill English can barely put a sentence together, so explaining this will be difficult.

It’s almost like Bill wants to lose….or is bending over backwards to help Winston take his vote.

Like Hobson’s Pledge, Whale Oil seems to very much want Bill English to lose, and appears to be bending over backwards to help Winston take National’s vote.

Is Whale Oil just using Hobson’s Pledge to help promote it’s political agenda?

Slater’s motives seem to be a mix of monetary, spite and trying to settle old grudges. I guess he also has some political and policy aims as well.

Are Hobson’s Pledge or anyone behind them working with Whale Oil?

They both seem to have very similar aims.

The Nation – vulnerable children and Hobson’s Pledge

This morning on The Nation (TV3 at 9.30 am, also Sunday at 10.00 am):

Andrew Becroft on the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children… is it the fix we need?

Becroft is the Children’s Commissioner – website.

Andrew Becroft says we’ve got a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise the youth justice age.

Does Becroft share ‘s concerns about resources? We ought to be able to cope with slight adjustment.

After this interview, ‘s Becroft is meeting with the Indian Association about the youth justice age.

The youth justice system is not milo-drinking kumbaya says Becrof.

NZ needs some do-able targets for child poverty says Becroft. Becroft wants to see a 5-10% reduction of child poverty by the end of next year.

“A once in a lifetime opportunity to get it right” again.

“Unless this agency is resourced properly upfront… we’re just setting ourselves up for another review” says Becroft on new Ministry.

Says is not sufficiently resourced, and he’s talking with Minister Tolley.

Don Brash and Labour’s Louisa Wall go head to head on his new lobby group Hobson’s Pledge.

Hobson’s Pledge website: “He iwi tahi tatou : We are now One People”

That’s not really a pledge, it’s a vague statement from one person who was involved which hardly represents ‘One people’.

Louisa Wall is an MP well down Labour’s pecking order (ahead of only one MP who hasn’t announced they are quitting). She was prominent during the marriage equality bill debate but otherwise has a low profile.

Wall is responsible for:

  • Spokesperson for Courts
  • Spokesperson for Youth Affairs
  • Associate Justice Spokesperson (Legal Aid)
  • Associate Sport and Recreation Spokesperson

So not sure why she has been put forward here.

Nanaia Mahuta is spokesperson for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Peeni Henare has several Maori spokesperson roles.

There is also a report on the anniversary of the battle of the Somme.

Also something on the Trans-Pacific Partnership apparently.



Brash targeting Peters with racial sledgehammer

I doubt that Don Brash is deliberately being devious with his Hobson’s Pledge ‘anti-separatist’ campaign. It looks like a resurrection of his  claim to infamy from his Orewa speech in 2004 – that sparked a recovery in National party support but National have now dismissed this brash attempt at stirring up race debate again.

NZ Herald: Brash’s new campaign dismissed by political leaders

There is no longer any appetite in New Zealand for a race-based campaign led by former National Party leader Don Brash, political leaders say.

Both National and Labour dismissed Brash’s latest bid to put an end to “preferential treatment” for Maori in New Zealand.

Even the Act Party which Brash used to lead did not endorse the new “Hobson’s Pledge” campaign, which Brash is fronting.

The campaign echoes Brash’s infamous “one law for all” speech at Orewa in 2004 and the Iwi/Kiwi billboards used when he was National Party leader.

National Party campaign chairman Steven Joyce said today that times had changed, and he did not see the new campaign as a threat.

“The difficulty in what he’s focusing on is that most New Zealanders realise we take a very balanced approach to these issues.

While some issues hidden amongst Brash’s rhetoric deserve discussion his sledgehammer approach is a hopeless way to try and achieve anything but elevating angst and anger.

Brash sees one possible ally in Parliament – Winston Peters and NZ First.

Brash said that could put him in the unusual position of donating money to New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, who was once a sworn enemy.

“As it stands at the moment, the only political party which is making an issue of this is New Zealand First,” he said.

“Someone with my particular background is not wildly enthusiastic about that.”

Peters probably won’t be wildly enthusiastic about Brash stealing his thunder. Brash is far from being his favourite political activist.

Media have sought a reaction from Peters but so far there seems to have been no response.

Is Brash doing NZ First a favour by highlighting one of Winston’s hobby horses? Or is he going to damage NZ First support?

It’s hard to see whether Brash is trying to deliberately or inadvertently impact on NZ First.

Brash effectively trashed ACT when he hijacked the party in 2011. David Seymour has distanced himself from Brash:

Act Party leader David Seymour said there were aspects of Hobson’s Pledge that he agreed with. He opposed the creation of specific Maori positions within local government and Resource Management Act proposals which give iwi a new role in consenting decisions.

But Act’s position on Maori issues were changing, he said.

“If you look at where Act’s going today … partnership schools have been overwhelmingly endorsed by Maori.

“If it came down a choice between scrapping Maori seats and reforming education so that people have real choice … I don’t need to tell you which is Act’s priorities these days.”

What’s more effective in politics, pandering to populist racial intolerance, or achieving actual results?

Despite a support surge after his Orewa speech Brash ended up failing in 2005, and he nearly destroyed ACT in 2011.

Working with Maori on positive education initiatives, as Seymour is doing, seems to be a far better approach than inflaming and dividing – an ironic but inevitable effect of Brash’s blunt ‘one people’ ideal.

Stuff: John Key: Kiwis uninterested in ‘broken record’ attacks on Maori favouritism

Kiwis are not interested in Don Brash’s “broken record” of attacks on Maori favouritism, Prime Minister John Key says.

Key says he is unworried by the launch of an “anti-separatism” campaign fronted by the former National Party leader, intended to pressure politicians into opposing preferential treatment of Maori.

Key said he was not worried about the campaign, which was part of the democratic process, and believed most Kiwis “want to live in a harmonious New Zealand”.

“It’s sort of pretty much a broken record from Don, but I think New Zealanders have seen in the last decade what’s taken place, they’ve seen that ultimately as Treaty partners, Maori and the Crown have to work together and actually we’re a stronger country for doing that.”

Key did not believe there was separatism in New Zealand, but said the Crown had “legal obligations” to Maori which it had to follow.

“They have certain rights which are bestowed upon them and we have to honour the court rulings for doing that…if we don’t do that, the courts rule against us.”


Deborah Mahuta-Coyle letter to Don Brash

An open letter from Deborah Mahuta-Coyle to Don Brash after Brash launched a ‘Hobson’s Pledge’ campaign (see Hobson’s choice ‘anti-separatist’ campaign)

Kia ora Don,

When I was 11 years old I took part in my school’s yearly speech competition. The topic was a famous Māori leader and I had decided to do my speech on my great-great-great-great grandfather Kingi Tawhiao.

My Nan helped me write it and when I made it to the finals I remember seeing her in the audience with quiet tears running down her face. My cousins all came to watch. I was wearing a hideous 80s puffer skirt that was bright pink; I was so short the microphone was at my nose, but I was too scared to move it. I remember all this like it was yesterday. Each family with a kid involved brought plates to share at the end of the evening. My Nan was a pretty mean caterer so she brought enough chocolate logs and eclairs to feed the entire place.

That night something happened that has affected me ever since. My cousin and I were standing in front of the food table with our plates when a couple of Pākehā ladies came up to us, turned their back on me and one of them said to my cousin, “This is not a place where you can just eat for free. You have to have brought food to share. You people are always making the most of events like this.”

Don’t worry – I rounded on the lady and walked about pointing out all of the food my Nan had brought. She just said, “Thank you, at least I know what plates to avoid.” My cousin did not eat a thing.

I’m now 35 years old and while that lady has probably long forgotten the 1990 final of the St Anthony’s School speech competition in Huntly, her words still hurt me to this day.

You see, Don, when you talk about Māori privilege, you say you’re referring to the Treaty, or to water rights, or to all these “special privileges” that Māori get and other New Zealanders don’t. But that’s just a political veneer. Underneath it, you’re giving permission for people to say horrible things, to unleash prejudice, to target Māori because they are Māori. And thanks to you, people think it’s all good as long as they use the rhetoric of tackling Māori privilege that you have happily constructed for them.

All Māori react to your tirades very differently. Some, like me, take to social media to tell you to shut up. Others hear what you say and think, “Here we go again.” Most tend to cringe and wonder how many others think the same way as you.

Nothing good comes from sugar-coating hate speech. What it tends to do is linger in the memories of those affected decades later. Don, you’re like those ladies at my speech competition – totally ignorant of the long-lasting effects of your rude and racist remarks. Those ladies didn’t understand that from that day on, I made sure whenever I’ve been asked to “bring a plate” I over compensated – and still ate nothing. They didn’t know that their words would mean my cousin has refused to attend “Pākehā events” ever since. And that, to this day, I still feel embarrassed to eat at social events as somewhere deep in my consciousness I worry that people will judge me for it because I am Māori.

Don, you shouldn’t say things if you don’t understand the far reaching effects they will have. You’ll never undo the hurt of Orewa or the impact of your latest rant. Thousands of 11-year-old Māori kids will have their identities shaped by the prejudices you have helped to nurture, legitimise and unleash over these past years.

And trust me: no one is going to forget what you have said. People will tell stories about you, Don, like I have about those two ladies from Huntly – to show that the horrible things some people say can cause a lifetime of pain.

Mā te wā,


Hobson’s choice ‘anti-separatist’ campaign

Don Brash is fronting an anti-separatist campaign aimed at pressuring politicians to oppose ‘preferential treatment of Maori’.

Stuff: ‘Anti-separatist’ campaign launched against ‘Maori favouritism’ ahead of 2017 election

The campaign group is running a number of newspaper ads calling for an end to separatism and race-based laws – and will consider donating to any parties willing to “commit strongly to a colour-blind state”

The campaign, Hobson’s Pledge, is named after the first governor of New Zealand, Captain William Hobson, and his statement upon signing the Treaty of Waitangi that “we are now one people”.

That ‘one people’ pledge must have been a bit fluid. Maori men didn’t get to vote until 1867, all European men didn’t get to vote until 1879 and, and no women could vote until 1893.

The campaign says it wants to “arrest a decline into irreversible separatism” by ending race-based structures and co-governance models, but claims “we are not in any sense anti-Maori”.

So they want to reverse rights committed to under the Treaty of Waitangi. That sounds a bit anti-Maori rights to me.

Brash, anti-MMP campaigner Peter Shirtcliffe and Canterbury University law lecturer David Round are among the group’s members.

Shirtcliffe campaigned against more representative democracy.

Brash said the catalyst for the campaign was a number of government policies which would “create a constitutional preference for those with a Maori ancestor”, such as proposed changes to the Resource Management Act to require iwi involvement.

“I’m not trying to win another election – I’m out of politics – but I want to avoid New Zealand drifting further into a racially-based society.”

The National-led government had betrayed its principles and promises to end separatism since gaining power, he said.

No politics? I don’t know how Brash can be ‘out of politics’ and achieve anything on this.

Government minister Steven Joyce said the campaign was “part of democracy”.

However, he did not believe the issue of separatism would have the same resonance as a decade ago, saying “a lot of water’s flowed under the bridge in that time”.

“I just think that actually most New Zealanders recognise they have a Prime Minister who’s actually very even-handed on this sort of stuff and very careful to respect everybody’s rights and interests.”

It is very unlikely National, Labour or Greens will dump on the Treaty settlements.

If Brash and co are not after votes I don’t know how they will achieve anything. From their website:

Our vision for New Zealand is a society in which all citizens are equal before the law, irrespective of when they or their ancestors arrived in this land.

 What we plan to do:

Now is the time to arrest a decline into irreversible separatism. This may be achieved by speaking out wherever local authorities
propose race-based structures and where the current government proposes co-governance.

This may also be achieved in next year’s election by supporting and voting for any party that would vote against all laws, regulations and policies that provide for any entitlement based on ancestry or ethnicity.

Ideally, this political party would commit to:

  • remove all reference to consultation with any ethnic group from the proposed changes to the Resource Management Act
  • hold a referendum on scrapping separate Maori electorates
  • drop the proposal to grant tribal trusts special powers to control the allocation of water – something previously regarded as the exclusive province of local government


Group of people holding Australian flag

…is a bit out of synch with what could be their grandparents:


Sounds too much like Hobson’s choice – and there may be nothing at all for them to take..