24 Oct 2018

Hobson's Pledge receives apology: 'We are not racist and we are not anti-Māori'

6:18 pm on 24 October 2018

Auckland University has apologised for publishing an article that described the lobby group Hobson's Pledge as "a racist and militantly anti-Māori group".

Former National Party leader Don Brash

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Former National Party leader Don Brash is the spokesperson for Hobson's Pledge. He said after reading the article, he asked the university to retract the statement about the group.

"Hobson's Pledge was described as racist and militantly anti-Māori and that is an absolute nonsense. We are not racist and we are not anti-Māori. The co-spokesperson for Hobson's Pledge is herself Māori, we are in no sense anti-Māori and in no sense racist," said Dr Brash.

"We thought it entirely improper for the university to publish that stuff as if it was a factual statement and we demanded an apology."

The university's alumni magazine, Ingenio, printed an opinion piece written by Professor Stephen May about the benefits of bi-and-multi-lingualism. The article contained a sentence which described the objections by some, including Hobson's Pledge members: "The tirade was led by Don Brash, in his role as spokesperson for Hobson's Pledge, a racist and militantly anti-Māori lobby group."

In its latest issue, Ingenio printed a retraction stating the sentence in its August issue "was incorrect and should not have appeared in the article".

Dr Brash said he was satisfied with the university's apology.

He said the Hobson's Pledge group lobbies for the same political rights for everybody.

"We are saying all New Zealanders irrespective of their ancestry, or when their ancestors came to New Zealand, should have the same political rights, now that's the opposite of racism. A racist is someone who wants special privileges for some group depending on their ethnicity. We're saying everyone should have equal political rights."

Last week Dr Brash spoke at Massey University, without protest, after being invited back following the controversial cancellation of his speech there in August.

The review of the university's Vice Chancellor's actions in cancelling Don Brash's speech in August is still underway, with a result due back in November.

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