‘Waitangi dildo’ protestor banned from Waitangi Treaty grounds

Three years on from making the word ‘dildo’ ubiquitous in respectable New Zealand homes, Josie Butler says ‘f*** you’ to a notice trespassing her from her own ancestral lands.

Activist and nurse Josie Butler was served a trespass notice on behalf of the Waitangi National Trust on Friday, trespassing her from the Treaty Grounds, the scene of her infamous 2016 protest action – biffing a rubber penis at Stephen Joyce’s head, and shouting ‘that’s for raping our sovereignty’ in response to TPPA trade negotiations.

Despite the trespass notice, Butler is on her way to Waitangi anyway, telling me en route to the Bay of Islands that it covers “from the bridge onwards”, which includes the Copthorne hotel, where the rubber projectile was launched, and the Treaty grounds where Te Whare Rūnanga and James Busby’s house stand. This is where the festivities are held every year – food stalls, dance and music, and waka demonstrations – as well as the official dawn ceremony. The notice doesn’t include the lower Treaty grounds or Te Tii marae, where people gather every year to hear from leaders and politicians.

Butler had been invited to speak as part of the Te Tii Forum Tent programme – an open forum over two days every year at Waitangi’s lower Treaty grounds, where invited guests and spontaneous kaikōrero alike can have their say – the same programme of speakers that controversially includes Don Brash and Brian Tamaki.

“I was attending Waitangi this year because I’ve been invited to speak regarding the benefits of protest, funnily enough,” she said. “And the real kicker is that Don Brash has been invited. Don Brash; a person who completely opposes Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Don Brash; the person who thinks the Waitangi Tribunal should be abolished…I think this is a really good example of where our race relations are at today.”

Butler says she didn’t receive any communication from any member of the Waitangi National Trust prior to police issuing the notice, and has had no reply to her calls or emails to them since.

“I emailed absolutely everybody on the board and requested an opportunity to discuss the decision. I’ve given them both my home number and cellphone number and my email to contact me but nobody’s even replied to my email.

“The police were very sympathetic about what had happened and they said if anybody on the board invites me on, the trespass notice doesn’t stand. It doesn’t have to be the whole board, it can just be one member.”

It’s unclear who is responsible for initiating the action. Waitangi National Trust CEO Greg McManus is named on the trespass notice but McManus told The Spinoff that Butler was trespassed “at the request of the Police.”

Northland District Commander Superintendent Tony Hill said in a statement that the trespass notice “was issued in relation to previous assaultive behaviour towards a VIP in 2016” and that “Police have a strong partnership with the Waitangi National Trust, working to ensure the public are safe and enjoy the Waitangi celebrations.”

He also told The Spinoff that to date, it is the only trespass notice that has been issued for the Waitangi Trust Grounds.

The trespass notice issued to Josie Butler on February 1st. (Photo: Supplied)

There are no reasons given on the trespass notice, but Butler says in their communications with her, the reason given was “to protect the interests of Ngāpuhi.”

“Ko Ngāpuhi tōku iwi,” she responds. “I feel really disillusioned that I can be trespassed from my ancestral lands without even having an opportunity to explore them.”

Butler is the great-great-great granddaughter of Te Kēmara, a tōhunga of Te Tii, and the 19th signatory on Te Tiriti o Waitangi. As a senior chief and tōhunga, Te Kēmara was given the first right of speech on 5 February, 1840, making him the very first to speak at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

In his inaugural speech, Te Kēmara told the English to “go back”.

“O Governor! My land is gone, gone, all gone. The inheritances of my ancestors, fathers, relatives, all gone, stolen, gone with the missionaries. Yes, they have it all, all, all. That man there, the Busby, and that man there, the Williams, they have my land. The land on which we are now standing this day is mine. This land, even this under my feet, return it to me.”

Butler says it’s this spirit that compels her not to stay away.

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“I will be attending Waitangi this year. I will be exploring my ancestral land and I won’t be causing a fuss. I just want to go and see my marae, I just want to go and feel the wairua of the land, and no piece of paper… is going to stop me from having that right as tangata whenua.”

This story was updated Tuesday 5 Feb to include comment from a NZ Police spokesperson.


Follow Hayden Donnell’s quest to find out where the Waitangi dildo ended up.


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