Case Number: 2718

Council Meeting: October 2018

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Bias

The Decision

Ruling by the New Zealand Media Council on the complaint of Mario McMillan against New Zealand Herald

Finding: No Grounds to proceed

Date: October 2018

Mario McMillan complained that a column published in the New Zealand Herald on September 16, 2018 breached Principle 7 (discrimination and diversity).

The article, a critique of a Hobson’s Pledge Trust newsletter, was headed Paul Little: Brash and co happy if Maori stay living in the past.

Mr McMillan said the article put gratuitous emphasis on race and colour. It was hateful, racially orientated, racially divisive and likely to inflame dislike and hatred towards its targets: namely Don Brash, Peter Shirtcliffe and anyone associated with them who were called a “white minstrel show”.

Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday editor Stuart Dye said this was a clearly marked opinion piece featuring Paul Little’s robust views on Don Brash and the Hobson Pledge Trust. The issues raised were firmly in the public sphere and the public interest.

It was written with a tongue-in-cheek bent and Little’s views were grounded in a foundation of fact and a direct response to the beliefs and statements made by Don Brash and the trust, which also enjoy a public platform.

Mr Dye said the comments did not meet any sort of threshold to be considered hateful or racist when a definition of racism was defined as prejudice, discrimination of antagonism directed against someone of a different race. Little was white so by this definition he could not be racist.

The Media Council found the article was clearly the opinion of the writer who was exercising his freedom of expression, which the Media Council regards as the most important principle in a democracy.

Council members found it hard to find anything even slightly offensive about this piece and considered it a long way from gratuitous racism.

Finding: No grounds to proceed.