To the Editor
Ingenio, The University of Auckland
I write in reference to the article written by Professor Stephen May in your Autumn 2018 issue.
The article titled “Why Should We Learn Te Reo Maori?” sought to discuss the benefits of bilingualism or multilingualism with the inference that Te Reo would be the most useful language aside from English to learn.
Aside from misrepresenting Don Brash’s position regarding learning Te Reo, the article significantly maligns an organization of which I am proudly co-spokesperson.
Hobson’s Pledge advocates strongly for protection of the rights of all New Zealand citizens. We seek to ensure that all citizens are treated equally before the law, and that race, ethnicity or ancestry can never be used to differentiate rights.
Your contributor has referred to Hobson’s Pledge as “a racist, militantly anti-Maori lobby group”.
Hobson’s Pledge is not in any sense anti-Maori and, given the definition of militant implies using “confrontational and violent methods to support a political or social cause”, Professor May has stepped into the realms of pure fancy that is defaming to not only Dr Brash but to all the members of Hobson’s Pledge.
I am Ngapuhi and work closely with the Hobson’s Pledge Trust members. The group has absolutely no militant or anti-Maori objectives.
The comments by Dr Brash regarding Te Reo were in specific reference to lengthy comments on RNZ without any attempt at translation to ensure there was an inclusive communication.
Nothing that Hobson’s Pledge has argued for refers to removing Te Reo as an option, or changing its availability to those who wish to learn, but it is not unreasonable, racist, anti-Maori or militant to question how much Te Reo is used in forums where it is highly likely very few understand what is being said.
I have worked with Dr Brash and know firsthand that this is a man that could never be labelled racist no matter how much careless and uninformed columnists choose to throw this label around in an effort to curtail any opinion that might be at variance to their own position.
It is truly disappointing that such offensive, factually incorrect information can be published.
Perhaps reckless comments such as these increase the likelihood of the article being read but consideration should be given to the damage to the reputation of not only Dr Brash but all of the Hobson’s Pledge members, even those of us whom Professor May seems to claim are racist against our own race.
Co-Spokesperson Hobson’s Pledge