Devoy and discrimination

The “Give Nothing to Racism” anti-discrimination campaign was funded by discriminatory levies payable only by international students and new migrants, The Taxpayers’ Union revealed on Friday.

The Human Rights Commission campaign featuring advertisements of Neil Finn and Taika Waititi was funded from the Export Education Levy, a tax paid by international students enrolled in New Zealand institutions, and a separate targeted levy payable solely by migrants.

“What total hypocrisy by the race relations commissioner, Dame Susan Devoy and the Human Rights Commission,” Taxpayers’ Union director Jordan Williams said.

“On the one hand, they lecture New Zealanders how sinful it is to make the slightest jest on stereotypes based on race, but on the other are more than happy to apply for and take funding from a pool funded from a racist tax.”

“Ms Devoy’s staff initially tried to argue that this area of spending shouldn’t be of interest to the Taxpayers’ Union because they claimed the foreigner’s levy income isn’t ‘taxpayer money’. 

We find that deplorable.  Claiming foreign students aren’t taxpayers because they’re not New Zealanders. There’s an R-word for that attitude, and maybe her office needs to have a good look at themselves in the mirror before they get back on their usual high horse.”

Earlier this year, Dame Susan came under heavy criticism for repeating an old wives' tale about women and children being burnt to death in a church during the 1860s. See

She made the comments in an opinion piece published in newspapers around New Zealand in February to mark Waitangi Day.

In the article, she referred to students from Otorohanga College asking about events during the 1860s New Zealand tribal rebellions, particularly in the Waikato village of Rangiaowhia.

She says the students ‘were shocked to find out civilians were killed by Crown soldiers'.

Tauranga resident Chris Lee, who happens to have an interest in the wars and is familiar with the historiography, took issue with the remark.

He made a complaint to the Human Rights Commission, arguing Dame Susan's repetition of false information about the wars might, ironically, cause racial disharmony.

He included evidence from the April 6, 1864 edition of the New Zealand Herald, which describes both churches at Rangiaowhia still standing mere weeks after the attack on the village.

He hoped Dame Susan, in light of this written evidence, would retract her statement and set the record straight.

However, the HRC, in their official reply, informed Mr Lee that the commissioner would not be retracting her statement.

“History is often contentious and debatable. There are many historical sources, including accounts from Waikato-Tainui and the NZ History website, which give different accounts from your sources as to what happened in Rangiaowhia in 1864.”

Mr Lee has been given the opportunity to lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Review Tribunal, but since they can award costs, he doesn't think it's worth the risk.

Mostly, he's frustrated one version of history, with virtually no substantial supporting evidence, is being favoured by a government body over sources such as newspaper reports and diary entries.

“Certainly I think Dame Susan has an agenda which almost seems like she's become a protagonist for the Maori side,” he said.