We upset RNZ – by campaigning for belonging

I have written to you in recent weeks to talk about the actions that Hobson’s Pledge are taking to push back against division and change the race-based narrative as we head to the ballot box in a few weeks.

As part of that work, Hobson’s Pledge commenced a significant campaign to broaden our reach to New Zealanders who are concerned about the direction of the country, but reluctant to enter into any discussion about race.

 In short, we recognise that repeating our messages to people who are already in agreement with us is not going to shift the dial of public understanding of co-governance and its implications. 

We needed a plan to reach beyond to those who either aren't particularly political or who don't naturally share our politics. To do this we have to focus on our shared values, but communicate to them in a way that those we seek to reach relate to.

Thanks to the generous donations of Hobson's Pledge supporters like you, we were able to undertake thorough research into New Zealanders' understanding and perceptions of co-governance. This research told us that most New Zealanders value unity and our inclusive multi-cultural traditionsand had real concerns that we were being divided into a bi-cultural nation.

Taking on board the findings of the research, we launched a campaign website and Facebook and Instagram accounts.

This was the foundation of an online strategy to celebrate unity, belonging, and equality before the law.

Here are some of the messages we promoted:

We are proud to say that Hobson’s Pledge has been able to broaden the discussion and reach new audiences, particularly other minority ethnicities in New Zealand.

However, as the messaging began to touch on political commentary we made sure to meet our legal obligations by inserting the required authorisation statement.

Naturally some sharp-eyed journalists noticed and this generated media concern, particularly from Radio New Zealand. They were very suspicious of our messages of unity, which shows just how little they know about what we stand for.

For seven years, Hobson’s Pledge has consistently and repeatedly opposed racism and separatism. Our position has always been one of equality where every New Zealander is afforded the same rights and responsibilities. 

It is hard to understand why messages promoting inclusion and unity are so upsetting to the media, but we thought it best to address the matter. You can read the media release we have just sent out below. 

MEDIA RELEASE: Hobson's Pledge & belonging to Aotearoa


30 AUGUST 2023

Hobson’s Pledge has been operating a social media campaign arguing for a sense of belonging and inclusivity for ALL New Zealanders.  

We Belong Aotearoa has been operating on social media asking New Zealanders to think about what makes this country a great place to live and what values are important.

This work has been funded by Hobson’s Pledge, which has, since 2016, been advocating for equality before the law.

“Having completed independent market research, it was recognised that there were many New Zealanders who had begun to feel isolated and disconnected by the growing division,” explains Don Brash.

“Our research showed us that what was important to New Zealanders was that we are an inclusive, multicultural nation but that the Government’s promotion of co-governance and rights differentiated by race was undermining this.”

Hobson’s Pledge undertook a strategy to reach a different demographic that research showed had real concerns but no platform to connect with others who felt the same.

The campaign has been highly successful, allowing a broad group of New Zealanders to talk about inclusivity, belonging and even democracy as election campaigning started.

“As the messaging for We Belong Aotearoa started to touch on issues of democracy and topics that may be considered relevant for the election, the marketing was, as required by law, identified as being authorised by Hobson’s Pledge”.

The name We Belong Aotearoa was selected out of respect for a name often used to describe New Zealand. Although Hobson’s Pledge has campaigned strongly against the renaming of this country, that was not as a result of any objection to the name Aotearoa in itself but rather because of a strong objection to the renaming of our country without the slightest attempt to consult with the citizens of New Zealand about such an important issue.

“Just as most New Zealanders have no objection to being referred to as “Kiwis”, any move to officially have our citizenship renamed would rightly be put to the people for approval, as John Key did with the suggestion that we adopt a new flag. The same should apply to the renaming of our country.”

The marketing campaign received some interest regarding who was behind the initiative, which generated positive discussion and engagement about unity and belonging.  

“Hobson’s Pledge recognised that much of the debate that was taking place had neglected the many cultures and ethnicities that make up who we are as a nation. Our objective was to open up discussion to a value proposition that allowed people to think beyond politics. We are really proud of the platform and the ability to get more New Zealanders thinking about what kind of country we want to be.”

We Belong Aotearoa will continue to promote messages of inclusion, and encourage all New Zealanders to focus on unity as we move towards the election.

We remain committed to engaging in inclusive and sensible discussion on how we can hold onto the fundamentals of a single standard of citizenship. These discussions can be hand in many different ways, but ultimately it comes down to our shared values.

P.S. Don't forget to keep the pressure on candidates for the general election! Remind them that democracy is essential if we are to remain an inclusive, multi-cultural, liberal democracy.

Tell your candidate at: ­­­­­­­­­www.bottomline.co.nz

Authorised by: Hobson’s Pledge, Suite 311, 184 Symonds Street, Auckland 1010