Concern over recent increase in anti-Māori sentiment

Maiki Sherman
Source: 1News

A recent uptick in anti-Māori sentiment online is raising concern with experts who say disinformation groups have pivoted to issues such as co-governance, following the anti-mandate protest.

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MPs have also noticed a rise in online abuse.

Director of The Disinformation Project, Kate Hannah told 1News they have been monitoring a rise in anti-Māori sentiment for over a year, but have noticed a significant increase in the last six weeks.

She said disinformation groups have shifted focus after the anti-mandate Parliament protest.

"We did expect that there would be an uptick in racism and we have seen that," she said.

"It's particularly around ideas of co-governance; around notions of He Puapua, the Māori Health Authority."

Labour Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who has fronted for issues such as Three Waters, posted an abusive, racist comment she had received.

She told media on Tuesday: "We wouldn't tolerate it for our young people, I won't tolerate it, and these nameless faceless keyboard warriors should be held to account”.

Peeni Henare, the Minister in charge of the Māori Health Authority, said he has blocked over 1000 people online.

He said he had been called the same racist comment "by our own people” and “a kūpapa and a traitor".

National leader Christopher Luxon used te reo Māori to pay tribute to the late Joe Hawke.

Luxon received a spate of negative comments, including: "F*** off Chris, we speak English here", "it's not Aotearoa", "can't believe you did this", "you just lost my vote" and "speak English, for f*** sakes, so sick of this Māori stuff".

The Human Rights Commission noted a spike in recent racist comments on co-governance.

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon said, "We have a big part to play in helping our community to understand what co-governance is".

Luxon said there was a real division building in New Zealand "around an understanding and interpretation of co-governance".

Others say MPs are part of the problem.

The Green Party's Chlöe Swarbrick said some are "behaving in ways that they know are stirring up racist sentiment".