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Illustration: Toby Morris / original image NZ Herald
Illustration: Toby Morris / original image NZ Herald

ĀteaJune 22, 2018

Is Bob Jones racist? Let’s review the evidence

Illustration: Toby Morris / original image NZ Herald
Illustration: Toby Morris / original image NZ Herald

Legal action has been taken by multi-millionaire Bob Jones against two Māori women who have called him and a column he wrote racist. Is it true? And what is racism anyway? We delved into the archives for answers.

So two weeks ago it was announced Sir Bob Jones was suing Māori filmmaker Renae Maihi on the grounds of defamation. Maihi presented a petition to parliament signed by more than 70,000 people, asking to strip Jones of his knighthood after he penned a column for the NBR calling for Waitangi Day to be renamed Māori Gratitude Day. Then last week his lawyers sent a letter to Māori academic Dr. Leonie Pihama because she tweeted a message referring to him as “racist Bob Jones”. The letter asked for her to immediately withdraw and apologise for the use of the label ‘racist’ as it’s “clearly defamatory”.

Racism is such a slippery term. Like emo music in 2000s, everyone admits it exists but then denies it when you give them an example.

So how do we know if Bob Jones is racist? What I think is racist and what you think is racist might be completely different, although if you aren’t a person of colour then a strong argument could be made for me having a much better understanding of it than you. Just sayin’.

‘Racism’ doesn’t really have a legal definition. So my point of view with my particular values and cultural background is as valid as yours on this subject. It’s a level playing field, which the law isn’t.

So I’ve done some reading. 45-odd years worth of columns and books written by Robert Jones. He’s no Margaret Atwood. Hell he’s no Lloyd Jones! But these are some of my highlights…err… lowlights. Click the links to see the full articles:

 “You need a Cabinet Minister who would tell the Maoris that ‘you’re all a pack of lazy bastards’. I think we’re very good to the Maori. We’re too good. There’s too much of the ‘free cars for Maoris’ attitude around.”
Salient magazine, 1973


“What was extraordinary was the uttering of unadulterated world-class nonsense this event spawned, mainly and predictably by Maori exponents whose capacity to spout garbage is familiar to us all. Mind you, in fairness, a couple of non-Maori males made a hearty effort to give them a run for their money but frankly, they were way out of their league.”
NZ Herald, 2013

Or this on te reo:

“Maori are a disproportionate drain on those expenditures. Furthermore, they’ll continue to be so long as this misplaced propaganda about their former culture is pursued…”
Southland Times, 2001

How about:

“This pretence that there is a peculiar Maori view on sewage, science and everything else is childish and simply presents opportunities to exploitative wide-boys.”
Bob Jones A Year Of It, 1991

Or my favourite (please click the link and read it right through. It’s a doozy):

“An objective outsider assessing the state of affairs in this country would be excused for quickly concluding that Maoris are genetically an inferior race.”
–  North & South, 1988

Is he racist? Based on that, a lot of people might still say no. My honest to goodness honestly held honest opinion? Based on those examples…..


In my opinion he’s racist as, and you know what? He’s also a massive… [sound of Leonie being tackled by The Spinoff’s legal team].


Keep going!