Māori want one law for all and want it applied equally, writes John Tamihere.


White supremacy is nothing new to the world or to New Zealand.

And when it comes to hate speech, you need only to reflect on the New Zealand Herald Facebook page feedback on their story about the complaint by Te Pāti Māori to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The hate got so bad that the leaders at Granny Herald admitted it and switched off the comments section.

In a previous opinion piece, I indicated that the line of politics being expressed by the National leader Judith Collins and the Act leader David Seymour emboldened white racists to express their hate towards Māori.

Māori are in the habit of pursuing their rights in a legal and justified manner. But whenever Māori seek to advance a right, white people see it as a race issue.

White supremacists hate it when uppity Māori point out the merits of their case and highlight the unjust way in which a system continues to treat them as second-class citizens.

The reality is that you know racism when you’ve suffered it.

White people in New Zealand have tried to soften their racist practice by saying that it’s caused by unconscious bias. But unconscious bias is what happens when these people are asleep. When they wake up, it’s no longer unconscious.

They try to soften the blow of their racism by saying: “It’s not me — it’s institutional.”

For the record, no building or institution has ever been racist to me. It’s people who awaken from their unconscious bias, move into a building and institution, and then consciously apply their racism.

There’s no such thing as institutional racism. But there are racists who run institutions.

The evidence of 19 inquiries over 25 years into the Children and Young Persons Service justifies every proposition I’ve made in this opinion piece.

Every fact I have listed here is undeniable, and an absolute truth.

Here’s an example of how the law treats us differently.

A white MP, Simeon Brown, attacks the Mongrel Mob for honouring one of their dead members at a funeral and causing traffic congestion for a limited period.

He receives a number of threats and gets wide coverage in the media.

Two alleged Mongrel Mob members are arrested immediately and taken to court.

The Māori Party MPs are attacked constantly on social media with threats, and one attack posted widely through YouTube has a masked white supremacist advising his colleagues that they should “slaughter all Māori and destroy their marae”.

Māori Party MPs make a complaint to police and receive no response for 72 hours.

They are then advised that the white supremacist has received a warning from white police officers. 

We should all feel insulted by this conduct. No arrest. No appearance before the courts. Just a warning — even though the vast majority of mass murders over the last 100 years of New Zealand history have been carried out by white men.

In only two instances within that period has a Māori committed mass murder, and that was of their own family. One was by Raymond Ratima in 1992 and the other by Henare Hona in 1934.

The evidence is clear that the white supremacist who was threatening slaughter should have been charged from the get-go and been treated the same as the brown Mongrel Mob members.

But it took major complaints from the Māori Party MPs to ensure that the police did the right and honourable thing by treating the white supremacist the same as the brown Mongrel Mob.

Māori want one law for all and want it applied equally to us.

I’ll end by alerting white people to three other heinous crimes committed by white men.

Firstly, five white men — one of them a pastor, and three of them in their 50s and 60s — use and abuse a 15-year-old Māori girl and are found guilty of charges ranging from receiving sexual services to rape and sexual exploitation of a young person.    

Four men have been given home detention and the fifth, who has name suppression, is yet to be sentenced.

Had it involved five Māori men and one white 15-year-old-girl, it would’ve been a very different story. Firstly, they would be household names. Secondly, their whānau would’ve been hunted down by Crown agencies. And thirdly, they’d all be behind bars for destroying the life of a 15-year-old baby.

Secondly, a white accountant — a partner in his accounting firm — assaults his wife, punching her in the face and breaking her nose. He is discharged without conviction so he can continue to travel overseas. 

If he’d been Māori, he would’ve been convicted of assault and sentenced to 12 to 18 months in prison. He would never be able to travel overseas.

The final example is a major rich-lister in Auckland, who was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault against three young men and of perverting the course of justice by endeavouring to buy off complainants.

The day he was found guilty was the day he should’ve been named but, because he is rich and white, he enjoys anonymity and remains unnamed.

Now tell me that the law is applied equally — and that we have one law for all. 


John Tamihere is a former lawyer and politician. He was a Labour Party MP and cabinet minister, and is now CEO of Urban Māori Authority Te Whānau o Waipareira and the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency.

© E-Tangata, 2021

Thank you for reading E-Tangata. If you like our focus on Māori and Pasifika stories, interviews, and commentary, we need your help. Our content takes skill, long hours and hard work. But we're a small team and not-for-profit, so we need the support of our readers to keep going.

If you support our kaupapa and want to see us continue, please consider making a one-off donation or contributing $5 or $10 a month.