Case Number: 2793

Council Meeting: JULY 2019

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Ruling Categories: Accuracy


Max Smith complained about one screen from a video that accompanied an articleMaori land must be exempt from capital gains tax published by Stuff on April 11, 2019.

The opinion piece by Glenn McConnell commented on the report from the Tax Working Group, “which had been tasked with making a “tax-revenue neutral” system of taxation that was more equitable and fit for the 21st century.” It noted that the Cullen group had said “some types of transactions relating to collectively owned Maori assets merit specific treatment”.

The column briefly addressed the confiscation of Maori land, noting that “by 1975 Maori had about 3 per cent of their land and the other 97 per cent certainly wasn’t sold for capital gain.”

The column was accompanied by a backgrounder video that gave a potted history of the Treaty of Waitangi. One screen, with text sitting between a sketch of a Britannia-like figure and a korowai adorned Maori male with a taiaha, said “The Treaty of Waitangi was supposed to create a partnership between Maori and the Crown”.

Mr Smith said the video was not labelled as opinion and presented several historical facts about the Treaty. He contended the claim “The Treaty of Waitangi was supposed to create a partnership between Maori and the Crown” was not an historical fact as the Treaty makes no mention of the word partnership in either the English of Maori versions.

The editor of Stuff responded “the fact remains that, whether or not the word “partnership” is in the Treaty, most current interpretations of it would say that was the intention.”

The Media Council agrees with the editor. The Treaty is commonly described as a partnership and there is no real argument to suggest that Stuff has erred in using it as it did here.

Finding: No Grounds to Proceed