Educators say publishers' books anti-Māori, hateful and untrue

Educators have described books by Wellington-based company Tross Publishing as anti-Māori, hateful and untrue.

English literature tutor Brittany Rose was browsing through her local Paper Plus when she stumbled upon a row of books from the company on shelves.

“There were about four or five of them on the shelf together and there was something about the imagery and the wording around particularly the Treaty of Waitangi that raised a few red flags for me, so I looked closer and it was disgusting.”

The books were filled with pages warning of the dangers of a so-called greedy, tribal elite.

And descriptions of Māori as violent savages who were saved by colonisation.

“It just struck me as incredibly insensitive, ill-informed and damaging. It's potentially harmful to propagate views that are anti-Maori. That's not at all what we should be having on shelves of our bookstores,” Rose said.

Colonisation devastated Māori, claiming land and lives.

University of Auckland Senior Māori studies lecturer, Dr Daniel Hikuroa, was equally disgusted.

“That's something I would hate for my daughter to stumble across at bookstores but on the other hand I would like for them to understand that it's hate material is what it is. It's hate material. It's designed to drive wedges between peoples,” he said.

Initially, Tross Publishing told 1News it didn’t engage with mainstream media and declined an interview.

Later, the company wrote to TVNZ’s CEO.

One of its authors, John Robinson, rejected the charges made against Tross Publishing.

"I absolutely reject the untrue charges made against Tross Publishing. I believe in equality, decency and accuracy and oppose the divisions in to-day's New Zealand. I am appalled by the ridiculous claims of wrongdoing which implicate me. I am being damned without a hearing," he said.

The company also wrote to Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi calling 1News' request for comment intimidating, and threatening defamation action.

The company has been publishing books that condemn things like treaty settlements and the Waitangi Tribunal for years.

But they are still being sold by big franchises, including Paper Plus and Whitcoulls.

He Puapua, a Blueprint for Breaking Up New Zealand is the latest in its collection and claims the He Puapua report will divide the country.

He Puapua is a plan to help the Government live up to commitments it made to a United Nations declaration.

“He Puapua is a document that’s designed to give life to the treaty. And these materials that are coming out… they call on half-truths and out-right lies. It's the out-right lies that I find really dangerous,” Dr Daniel Hikuroa said.

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon said there was no need for Pākehā to feel threatened by the report or Māori.

“In fact, Māori have been very accommodating. We live in a Māori country and they only own three percent of the whenua, where once upon a time they had 100 percent. The vision of He Puapua is just and Māori just want to live in Aotearoa in dignity and decide for their own future as well.”

There are calls for stores selling the books to promote balance.

“I’m all for free speech, I think freedom of expression is an important part of a healthy society. Absolutely we should be fee to express. But what really disturbed me about this was the idea that freedom of speech is about being able to have any opinion and go unchallenged.”

Dr Daniel Hikuroa said perhaps purchasers needed to re-think what they stocked on their shelves.

“Maybe it’s about the purchasers who may wish to buy or not buy these things.”

The books have been seen on the shelves at both Paper Plus and Whitcoulls, but both deflected our queries.

In a statement, Paper Plus told 1News it didn’t support racially charged views and did not buy from Tross Publishing centrally.

Whitcoulls said it didn’t have a trading account with the company.

1News has asked for clarification as to why the books can be purchased at both stores.