Fuseworks Media

Hutt City Council censors work of revered and respected Maori leader

Hutt City Council banned an insert of Sir Apirana Ngata’s ‘Treaty of Waitangi – An Explanation’ from its premises on the basis that it “spread a very particular political viewpoint” and “viewed as spreading misinformation.” We believe this is an illegal breach of free speech, and simply another example of censorship, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.

“The insert was published in 31 NZME and Stuff newspapers throughout the North Island last year. When the New Zealand Centre for Political Research (NZCPR), who funded the advocacy, asked for an explanation from the Hutt City Council as to why they banned the insert, their response was a poor excuse.

“The Council claimed the insert in The Hutt News was misinformation, spreading a particular viewpoint without counterbalance.

“Firstly, paid advertising does not require counter perspectives. Secondly, if the Council really believed this, why did they not supply a counter perspective themselves?

“We don’t just believe in freedom of speech from a legal perspective, but as a social good that allows people to peacefully, freely advocate for the causes they care about without risking unjust retribution. You don’t have to agree with someone to uphold their rights.

“The Hutt City Council has a responsibility to uphold free speech under the Bill of Rights Act. If you disagree with someone, debate it and invite counterarguments. Don’t censor someone’s voice, and in turn, stop others from hearing it.

“We have contacted the Council for an explanation of their actions, and are taking advice on potential legal action for this breach.”

 

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