Prime/Sky News, Treatygate

Aotearoa story leads Prime/Sky News

My thoughts on the Constitutional Advisory Panel’s use of the name Aotearoa New Zealand led Prime News at 5.30pm.

The item will presumably be repeated on Sky News at 8.30pm.

The story went out under the header ‘Racial Storm’. Some will no doubt say it’s a storm in a teacup, and I would agree that it’s far from our top priority issue.

But the reporter chose it out of all the recent blog posts, and I was happy to use it to draw attention to the bias of the Constitutional Advisory Panel.

Predictably, a Maori academic, Maria Bargh, called me a racist for suggesting that the public should be consulted about a change of national name.

Sir Tipene O’Regan responded with something totally irrelevant, and John Key sourly mused on who would be accompanying me to Waitangi.

(Perhaps he’s bringing in reinforcements.)

Below is the full transcript of the original interview. The section italicised in bold is the part they broadcast.


You’ve got an issue with the Constitutional Review panel using the word Aotearoa. What’s the big deal?


Well, a lot of people do that. But surely an organisation set up to ask New Zealanders what they think about matters at the core of their national being should not arbitrarily decide that we want to change the name of our country, without at least asking us.

I mean, I don’t care if we call ourselves Aotearoa or Aotearoa New Zealand, or John Keyland for that matter — as long as we do it by consent. As long as we have a referendum.

The last organisation that should be arbitrarily deciding that we’re changing our name — the only name that we’ve had for 371 years — should be the Constitutional Advisory Panel.


But a lot of Kiwis do call New Zealand Aotearoa, and we all know what it means.


We know what it means, yes. But it’s not the official name of our country. And the Constitutional Advisory Panel should be using the official name of our country.

A lot of people don’t like the use of Aotearoa New Zealand — the arrogant assumption that we’ve all decided we want that to be the name of our country.

I think that if you guys polled your public — and I’m urging all media to poll the public on these issues — find out what they think.

And I’ll go along with their view. We’re a democracy.


You made the analogy of ANZ National.


Yes, it’s a bit like the merger of the ANZ and the National banks.

Once upon a time there was the ANZ and there was the National.

In other words, once upon a time there was Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand — fair enough — and there was New Zealand, the English name.

And then with ANZ/National, ANZ took over National. And for a while, to humour the National Bank customers, they called it ANZ/National.

Now they’ve dropped the National, and it’s just ANZ.

It’s a bit like that, isn’t it? Now you start to see a big Aotearoa appearing on stamps, with a small New Zealand.

At Te Papa — or Te Papaganda as I call it — they’ve got an exhibition running which just talks about Aotearoa.

Now when did the public decide that?

It’s a takeover that’s slowly happening so that people don’t really notice it. But it’s not fair.

These things need to be done by consent of the public. We’re a democracy.


What about the argument that Maori is an official language of this country — we’re a bi-lingual nation?


Yes. And when was that decided by the public?

That was decided by a government with no consultation with public at all in the 1980s.

It’s what gives the Constitutional Advisory Panel the feeling that they can unilaterally change the name of the country.

Put that to the public as well: should Maori, a language spoken by a fraction of 15 % be an official language? Put that to the public.


You’re going to Waitangi this year. What sort of reception are you expecting?


I’m not expecting a terribly good one from a number of people.

But if I don’t go to Waitangi and have my say — on the Treaty House lawn, hopefully — I think I’ll be letting myself down, and the people that actually agree with me.

Which I think is probably 80% of the public. Again, I ask the news media to poll the public.

But that’s the number that comes up whenever questions relating to Treaty issues are asked. “Do you want Maori wards?” “No”, say 80% of the [referendum voters in] Waikato and Nelson, for example.

So, Waitangi, it’s going to be tough. It could be rough.

But we’ve got to be there to make a stand on behalf of the vast majority of New Zealanders who think that the Waitangi Day celebrations have been taken over by a small fraction of militant Maori.

Really it’s time to reclaim our own national day.


Have you thought about standing for parliament?

Well it’s been talked about.

But look, I just want to do whatever has to be done to get the views of the majority heard.

I think I represent the views of an awful lot of New Zealanders who aren’t quite ready to stand up and express them.

I’ve just go so frustrated that I am prepared to now.


If you are representing what you say are the views of the majority, we don’t really have anyone like you inside this place [Parliament], do we?


Well there’s a terrible fear of being called a racist.

Now that’s just a trick, and I want people to realise that it’s a trick.

It’s used to make us shrink back into our snail shells — to cower people. And it works.

It’s a horrible thing to be called a racist. I don’t particularly enjoy it. But I’m so used to it now that it’s like water off a duck’s back.

We need people who are prepared to stand up for their country — which is a country for all of us.

I don’t want a white New Zealand.

I want a multi-cultural, vibrant New Zealand where everybody is equal, lives under the one law, votes on the one roll and has their taxes spent according to need and not race.


7 thoughts on “Aotearoa story leads Prime/Sky News

  1. Hi John

    I saw the Prime TV news story and I thought you and the banner came across great. Typical PC Academic (who was she anyway) to brand it Racist to try and discredit the story and close it down. I for one am so tired of these people trying to shut people up by calling them racists.

    All the best for the next few days John, stand strong and true to yourself, you are absolutely doing the right thing.


  2. I caught the banner when they were summarising at the end, having missed Prime News and was so thrilled to see the banner and yourself, with assistant, up there. It looked fantastic. I must have missed the fact that you were going to be on TV because I was home and could have seen it.

  3. Oh . . . . my . . . . god!

    That is ALLLLLLL they broadcast ?

    What a huge amount of time and incredible effort from you, John, for them to turn around and only broadcast that little bit!

    I am LIVID!

  4. Good grief what has to happen in order to get unbiased mainstream media coverage in New Zealand nowadays, chop down any Flagstaff flying any other Ensign other than the New Zealand flag perhaps?

  5. Actually, Ironsides is has probably come to that. Getting rid of as many “maori” flags as possible would certainly get the attention of the media – and maybe they might start to wonder about the message behind the actions. Shouldn’t have to be like that, but this is our new reality.

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