Case Number: 2967

Council Meeting: NOVEMBER 2020

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Radio NZ

Ruling Categories: Discrimination


On September 24 RNZ published an online article Māori don’t exist to our political leaders so Talofa. The article was an opinion piece by Leonie Hayden, originally published onThe Spinoff.

The piece was referring to the first leaders’ debate where Ms Hayden noted

“…. you'd be forgiven for thinking Jacinda Ardern, Judith Collins and John Campbell's ancestors sailed to these shores and settled on pristine, empty lands.

All three spent the entire debate in a blissful, alternate, Māori-free universe.”

The piece then went on to say

“Māori are Aotearoa; it is us. We are the land and the people. Our language is this country's language, our culture and traditions belong to this country."

It is this last sentence that drew a complaint from James Hogan. He contends this statement casts all non-Maori New Zealand ethnicities as “not” of the land and “not” its people. He notes that “It is the author’s own personal view – it wasn’t written maliciously. But it is extremely offensive to New Zealanders who were made to feel like they don’t belong in their native country. It is a rejection of our heritage, our legitimacy to being a New Zealander – one of the land – to being part of New Zealand’s “land and people”.”

He sees the sentence as gratuitous and offensive to other ethnicities. RNZ’s on-publishing of the opinion piece gave it an air of legitimacy, particularly because of RNZ’s reputation and its public funded nature. It also gave it a greater audience.

The Media Council notes the piece was clearly marked as opinion and was written in the first person. No one could doubt that it was the personal opinion of the writer. The Media Council has many times pointed out that a person does not have a right not to be offended by someone else’s opinion. Besides the words complained of are not at all exclusive. To say that Maori have a special relationship with Aotearoa New Zealand is not to say that no one else has.

Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed


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