Unapproved anti co-governance signs to come down

5:20 pm on 23 November 2023
Roadshow organiser Julian Batchelor at the Kerikeri event.

Julian Batchelor. Photo: LDR / Peter de Graaf

Waka Kotahi is taking steps to remove an anti co-governance sign from the Appleby Highway, near Nelson, with councils working to remove other roadside signs in nearby districts.

The Stop Co-Governance movement is led by Julian Batchelor, who defines co-governance as "code for the takeover of New Zealand by tribal companies and their representatives".

The billboards with slogans like "All cultures are treated equally in New Zealand" and "Co-Governance? There is nothing to fear… yeah, right" have been erected on roadsides around the top of the South Island and in many other parts of the country.

Batchelor also claims co-governance is "the end of democracy" and "the installation of apartheid and separatism into everyday life, leading eventually to full-blown government by tribal rule".

Top of the South system manager Rob Service said Waka Kotahi recently received a complaint about one of the Stop Co-Governance signs, located along State Highway 60.

He said signs placed on the state highway corridor without written approval from Waka Kotahi, and in breach of its signs bylaw, were removed by contractors - which is what would happen to the sign in Appleby.

Julian Batchelor billboard

A similar Stop Co-Governance sign on SH6 between Renwick and Havelock, mimicking the famous Tui beer billboards. Photo: Stuff / Anthony Phelps

Meanwhile, for signs on private land, district plan rules and local bylaws applied.

Tasman District Council said it had received a complaint about two Stop Co-Governance signs on Main Road, Hope. The signs did not comply with Tasman Resource Management Plan and the landowner had been directed to remove them, which they agreed to do.

Another sign on the same property advertising a business had resource consent, so was permitted to remain.

In the Tasman District, signs were allowed without a resource consent if they were advertising a land or building sale or lease, or for temporary community event (including an election) or fundraising event.

The council spokesperson said it had no jurisdiction over the perceived offensive or defamatory nature of the signs, and complaints about their content should be referred to the police.

The council had been approached about other signs in the district, but without addresses or street names, it could not enforce compliance.

Marlborough District Council said it had received two complaints about Stop Co-Governance signs that breached either the council's signage rules and/or Waka Kotahi's, and the landowners would also be asked to remove them.

If they were not removed, the landowner would be issued an abatement notice; non-compliance could result in a $300 fine, or prosecution.

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