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Nov 19 2022

Hate speech proposal ‘very disappointing’ – Human Rights Commission

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt (Photo: Supplied)

The Human Rights Commission says it is frustrated by news that a planned amendment to the Human Rights Act will only protect religious groups from hate speech.

This morning justice minister Kiri Allan said the law will be changed to add religious communities to the existing protected groups of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins.

In a statement, the HRC noted this protection has not been extended to “other groups who are vulnerable to harmful speech, such as women, disabled people, and the rainbow community”.

“In our view, the government’s proposal, which comes after significant consultation over several years, is very disappointing. It fails to protect some communities that are most vulnerable to harmful speech in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

The government has asked the Law Commission to undertake a review of legal responses to hate-motivated offending, including whether protection should be extended to these other groups.

Hate speech against religious groups to be included in Human Rights Act

Masjid An-Nur mosque in Christchurch on the first anniversary of the terrorist attack, in 2020. (Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

The Human Rights Act will be amended to address incitement towards religious communities, the government has announced. The change is in response to recommendations from the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack.

The 51 victims of that attack and their families “suffered an act of extreme hate, because of their religious belief”, justice minister Kiri Allan said. “Everybody in New Zealand deserves to be safe from this kind of violence.”

Currently, under the Human Rights Act 1993 it is illegal to publish or distribute threatening, abusive, or insulting words likely to “excite hostility against” or “bring into contempt” any group on the grounds of colour, race, ethnic or national origins.

Those grounds will now be extended, in both the civil and criminal provisions, to cover religious belief.

Masjid An-Nur mosque in Christchurch on the first anniversary of the terrorist attack, in 2020. (Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

The government has also asked the Law Commission to undertake a review of legal responses to hate-motivated offending, and of “hate speech” against those who share a common characteristic. This will include whether further protections should be afforded to specific groups, including the Rainbow and disabled communities.

“Until the Law Commission has done that work, there will be no changes to the definition of groups protected from discrimination, or any changes to how the existing legal regime against incitement operates in terms of thresholds, offences or penalties, as originally proposed,” Allan said.

She said the new amendment “is not, and never has been, about the government wanting to restrict free speech”.

However Act leader David Seymour said the amendment was a “significant restriction” on freedom of expression.

“It is important that we are allowed to call out examples of religious persecution without fear of being prosecuted. What is currently happening in Iran is an example of this,” he said.

“Allan has watered down Labour’s hate speech laws because Kiwis rejected Labour’s attempt to strip away their freedom of speech, but even in their current state they are not compatible with a free and open society and Act will repeal them.”

The Green Party said it welcomed the protection of religious groups under the law, but expressed concern that “the exclusion of gender, rainbow and disability communities sends a signal that these groups are less deserving of protection”

“Every community targeted by hate deserves to be protected,” said the Green’s justice spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman.

Confirmed: Mister Organ has seen Mister Organ

David Farrier spent three years chasing the shadowy figure, Michael Organ. (Photo: Supplied / Treatment: Tina Tiller)

One of the big questions around David Farrier’s new film Mister Organ – confirmed as having the biggest opening weekend for a New Zealand documentary in 2022 – is whether or not the film’s subject has seen his own movie.

If you weren’t already aware from the coverage Mister Organ’s already had, from our timeline on the Bashford Antiques saga, or our interview with Farrier in which he said making his movie “fucked me,” it follows a troublesome car clamper and antiques dealer who claims to be a Prince, sucks people into his orbit and won’t let go.

After the closure of Auckland’s Bashford Antiques, Organ and his partner moved to Whanganui. In the film, Farrier follows him there to his new home in an old bank on Victoria Avenue. Across the road from the bank is Embassy 3, the city’s only cinema, which is currently hosting twice-daily screenings of Mister Organ – just one less than the Black Panther sequel Wakanda Forever.

Mister Organ
Michael Organ and David Farrier enjoy a coffee and a confrontation on the streets of Whanganui. (Screengrab)

So, has Organ bought a ticket? “Yes,” confirms the theatre’s manager, Gary Vinnell. “Michael has been into the cinema to watch the film and without issue. I was on security for opening night and when he came through I did welcome him in.” There, Vinnell told Organ: “It’s not often we get lead actors through our doors on an opening night.”

Organ was, apparently, very vocal during the screening but Vinnell says he wasn’t rowdy enough to kick him out. “As one customer sitting in front of him said to me after: ‘It made the film even more hilarious with a running commentary added in.'”

It wasn’t the only visit Organ had paid to Embassy 3. Vinnell says Organ had visited before the film’s debut, “flapping a piece of paper around referencing injunctions”. He says he ejected him “with a selection of descriptive words”.

Vinnell had one last thing to say to Organ on his way out: “I thanked him for making me a shit load of money.”

All Blacks cut ties with embattled agency We Are Indigo

We Are Indigo investors:  All Blacks Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Ardie Savea, and The Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall (Image design: Tina Tiller)

Two of the most high-profile investors in We Are Indigo, the star-studded agency at the centre of a storm over damning due diligence reports, have cut ties with the company. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Ardie Savea were listed as part of the firm’s high performance team, and had minor shareholdings to reflect that association.

As of Thursday November 17, the Companies Office shareholder register shows that RTS1 and DakotaQueen, investment vehicles linked to Tuivasa-Sheck and Savea respectively, are no longer part of We Are Indigo’s ownership group.

In a statement provided to The Spinoff, We Are Indigo CEO Pat MacFie confirmed that the All Black pair are no longer part of his team. “Yes, Roger and Ardie have moved on, it’s been in the works for a little while.  We’re grateful for their support from early on in our journey and we wish them all the best in the future”. The Spinoff has sought comment from the All Black pair through NZ Rugby.

All Blacks Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (left) and Ardie Savea (right), with The Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall, who remains a We Are Indigo investor. (Image design: Tina Tiller)

We Are Indigo is pushing on despite the controversy surrounding it, and yesterday announced a new partnership with Te Whānau o Waipareira, the trust run by John Tamihere. The press release says they intend to support small businesses in the Māori economy with education and mentoring. The former MP is backing MacFie despite the storm surrounding We Are Indigo, saying in a statement “we have followed the impressive track record this team has built up and want to do what we can to make sure they continue and support them to scale up that impact.”

We Are Indigo was founded in 2019, by ex-Xero exec MacFie, along with rugby league legend Monty Betham and the prominent tech identity Andy Hamilton, formerly of the Icehouse. It received government contracts worth over $5m in a compressed timeframe, in large part due to its plan to reach small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

However due diligence reports commissioned by government innovation agency Callaghan Innovation in response to its application for further funding revealed a litany of serious allegations made by many of those who had come into contact with We Are Indigo, or its subsidiary Manaaki. The reports were leaked to The Spinoff, but have not been made public despite repeated OIAs, and now sit with the Ombudsman to determine whether they should be released.

Read more: Deep inside the explosive We Are Indigo saga

PM holds bilateral talks with Chinese leader Xi

PM Jacinda Ardern meets Chinese President Xi at the Great Hall of the People on April 1, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo: Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Getty Images)

The prime minister has met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on the sidelines of Apec in Bangkok, their first face-to-face meeting since April 2019.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and bilateral areas of cooperation including trade, agriculture, climate change and the environment were acknowledged by the prime minister during the meeting, according to a read-out from her office.

NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern and Chinese president Xi Jinping meet in Beijing in 2019. (Photo: Kenzaburo Fukuhara – Pool/Getty Images)

The prime minister also stated New Zealand’s concerns regarding Xinjiang, Hong Kong, the South China Sea and the Taiwan strait, and encouraged China to use its influence to help address regional and international security challenges such as in North Korea and Ukraine.

According to Chinese state media outlet Global Times, President Xi said “China is willing to coordinate closely with New Zealand to jointly promote peace, stability, development and prosperity in the Pacific island countries region… while also highly praising Ardern’s repeated remarks on the country’s adherence to an independent foreign policy.”