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.

Calls for more than handouts for Māori

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Development minister Shane Jones have preceded Waitangi Day celebrations with announcements of hundreds of millions of dollars in development grants, but this approach has been questioned and in some cases slammed – see National leader Simon Bridges urges RMA reform over $100m for Māori land ownership

NZ Herald editorial: Handouts are no substitute for a Ngapuhi Treaty settlement

The Prime Minister is doling out a great deal of money on her extended visit to Northland for Waitangi Day.

At a Kaipara marae on Sunday she announced $100 million of the Government’s $1 billion provincial growth fund will be set aside as capital for Māori developments.

Yesterday at Mangatoa Station near Kaikohe she announced $82m from the fund will be used to set up regional training and employment “hubs”, and a further $20m from the fund will go to establishing regional digital “hubs” to help small towns and marae get internet connections.

In two days, with Regional Development Minister Shane Jones at her elbow, they have committed about a fifth of the original fund which is already depleted by some grants of dubious value he made last year.

While the projects announced at the weekend will be spread around a number of regions Northland is one of the most needy, which is why successive governments have been working so hard to try to help Ngapuhi get organised for a Treaty settlement.

After a year of trying, Justice Minister Andrew Little seems to be no closer than previous ministers came to finding a bargaining partner all Ngapuhi hapu will accept.

Now the Government seems to be giving handouts instead.

The Government may be right that Māori land is the underdeveloped asset that can provide those parts with more wealth. But providing seed capital is the easy part. It has to do much more to ensure the seedlings are not mulched.

Sam Sachdeva (Newsroom):  Ardern’s Waitangi sequel a test of relationship

Heading to what has traditionally been a tempestuous occasion for prime ministers, Jacinda Ardern’s Waitangi debut in 2018 went about as well as she could have hoped.

While Waitangi Day organising committee chairman Pita Paraone believes Ardern will receive a similar reception this year, he suggests there may be “a bit of murmuring” from Māori over some areas of discontent.

There has always been murmurings of discontent at Waitangi.

Matthew Tukaki, chairman of the National Māori Authority, agrees there will be plenty of expectation from Māori for the Government to deliver on its many promises.

“We’ve had a year of inquiries, we’ve had a year of investigations … 2019 for this Government must be the year of action.”

Many of the issues prioritised by Māori are the same as for the wider population: Paraone mentions mental health and housing, while Tukaki talks about high suicide and unemployment rates.

Tukaki says there is value in “universal principles that guide your waka”, but argues that is not enough: it must be supported by targeted reform and policies to succeed.

Solutions will not come in the form of short-term fixes, he says, but a longer-term vision that can be sustained over years or decades.

The handouts look to be more short term political fixes, or attempted fixes, but fundamental problems remain.

“For too long, government agencies and offices and ministries have been working on solutions and then saying to Māori, ‘Here’s a solution to whatever problem’,” (Labour MP and deputy Prime Minister) Kelvin Davis says.

Like “here’s some money”.

“Really what we need to say is, here’s a problem, how do we work on a solution together so it actually meets the needs of the people who we’re working for?”

There is a lot of work to do there, more than meeting a next year holding to account deadline that Ardern seems to be trying to address.

Māori will be looking to the future too, and whether Ardern’s government can deliver on its promises: perhaps with an added degree of wariness, but also hope.

They will be hoping for more from Ardern and her Government.