Why I am stepping down as spokesperson of Hobson’s Pledge

It has been an honour (and sometimes a challenge!) to be a spokesperson for Hobson’s Pledge for the past seven years, but I am now stepping down.

I am leaving, not because I no longer believe in the cause, but because I think I can best serve in another way, by getting a seat in Parliament.

I am excited to announce I have accepted New Zealand First’s nomination to stand as a candidate at the upcoming election. Since Hobson’s Pledge is mission-driven and not party aligned, this means I must stand down as a spokesperson and trustee.

I’m sick to death of listening to political parties avoid the reality that race-based division has foisted upon us. I’m also sick of listening to many Maori politicians stand on the shoulders of our most vulnerable in order to chase power, status, and relevance. Instead of delivering practical outcomes they have perpetuated an environment of despair and robbed our young people of opportunity to excel through a narrative of victimhood.

You can be confident that I will approach politics in the same manner I have approached my work with Hobson’s Pledge, with equality under the law as my fundamental bottom line. 

Reflecting on my time at Hobson’s Pledge, I am proud of the work we have done on a range of issues. I’m particularly proud of how we have been able to reach out to so many New Zealanders, expanding our supporter base to around 160,000 people. It is hard to believe we are such a big team.

Seven years ago, almost to the day, I met with a group of New Zealanders who believed all Kiwis should be treated equally before the law, irrespective of when we or our ancestors arrived in this country.

From this meeting Hobson’s Pledge was established.

Hobson’s Pledge resonated with me because differentiating the rights of New Zealanders based upon ancestry is wrong. Although I am incredibly proud to whakapapa to Ngapuhi/Ngati Wai, I am equally proud of my Anglo-Irish ancestors who first came here in the 1860s. Becoming a nation where ethnicity differentiates your rights as a citizen is unacceptable. Too many individuals, without elected authority, claim to speak for ALL Maori and promote a narrative of despair that does no good for anyone, particularly Maori.

I have been proud to stand next to Don Brash advocating for equality before the law. It still baffles me that our consistent calls for equal rights have been cast as somehow racist by certain sections of the media and political class.

As it turned out advocating for better outcomes based on need, not race, was enough to be condemned as racist regardless of my ethnicity.

Despite the often vitriolic attacks by a small number of New Zealanders, I have been immensely privileged to be able to give a voice to an issue that needs to be shouted from the roof tops. Our democracy and equal rights are too important to allow anyone to be bullied into silence.

Over the years, we have worked to change the political agenda under both National and Labour-led Governments. It is important to remember that, despite the extraordinary acceleration of anti-democratic policies under this current Government, systems of co-governance have been implemented by both Labour and National and that, no matter the result of this election, we must continue to advocate for equality before the law.

Hobson’s Pledge has been able to empower many Kiwis to feel okay to talk about race-based division honestly. We have been able to expose appalling legislation and create a political will to stand against race-based policy.

I don’t believe it is hyperbole to say that this election is the most important in my lifetime. It will determine what type of country our children’s children will inherit.

The dial needs to be shifted substantially and that needs to happen through pressure both inside and outside Parliament. I am going to do my very best to get my foot in the door.

Hobson’s Pledge is in great hands, and I will remain a committed supporter of the cause and the other trustees.

For now, I thank you for your willingness to engage with, fund, and support the work of Hobson’s Pledge. Without you, none of the work of the past seven years would have been possible.

If you would like to stay in touch you can connect with me here.

It has been a pleasure fighting the good fight with you.