University apology a long time coming

An apology by Auckland University for publishing an article by a language professor that included an untrue and defamatory statement about Hobson's Pledge was a long time coming.

This year’s Autumn edition of the university’s alumni magazine, Ingenio, published an opinion article by Professor Stephen May titled “Why We Should Learn Te Reo”, which referred to an interview of Don Brash by Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand.

Professor May’s article on bi- and multi-lingualism described Hobson’s Pledge as a “racist and militantly anti-Maori lobby group”.

Several Hobson’s Pledge members who had attended Auckland University objected to being thus described in a university magazine and one complained to the Ingenio editor. There was no response although the complaint letter was posted online for a while.

Don emailed the Ingenio editor on June 6 seeking the right to reply. He wrote to Professor May on June 12 with an offer to debate while notifying intent to have our lawyer seek an apology and correction.

The next step was a letter from our law firm to the Ingenio editor dated June 13. The letter said that the statement was untrue and defamatory, it sought publication of an apology and correction, and said it was the first step of defamation action.

Auckland University Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon replied on June 25 saying that the university and the author accepted that the statement was “arguably defamatory and should not have appeared in the publication”.

An apology with correction was published online and in the spring edition of Ingenio.

The characterisation of Hobson’s Pledge as alleged in the Autumn Ingenio magazine is the opposite of the truth because we want the same rights for all New Zealanders irrespective of when they or their ancestors came to New Zealand.

Allegations of racism have been used to sideline the Hobson’s Pledge message for too long and complaints to editors of news organisations and assertions of a right to reply were routinely ignored.

It took several thousand dollars and a strongly worded letter from a law firm to get all that we were asking at the beginning – which was to be reported fairly.

See Hobson’s Pledge receives apology,

Ngapuhi claim all about who gets the money

With news last week that Ngapuhi people will soon vote on a new negotiation model, has anyone noticed that all discussion about a Ngapuhi settlement concerns who will get the money? There was even a Waitangi Tribunal inquiry into it.

There is never discussion about what the Ngapuhi grievance is and whether it is valid.

Hobson’s Pledge says that wherever it can be reasonably established that the Crown unlawfully confiscated property from any individual or group, compensation should be paid, provided however that any such compensation should be “full and final”. 

There were no land confiscations in Northland. Even the recently conjured up assertion that Ngapuhi never ceded sovereignty is easily contradicted by the appearance of both words “cede” (“tuku”) and “sovereignty” (“kawanatanga”) in Article 1 of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Therefore, it is difficult to see exactly what the Ngapuhi grievance is.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little should make a clear statement of exactly what grievances are supposed to be settled by payment of large sums of cash to a small Northland entity, and how such a payment is expected to settle those grievances.

See Ngapuhi soon to vote