Students protest Auckland University's refusal to remove 'white supremacist' material

University of Auckland campus.
University of Auckland campus. Photo credit: File

Outraged University of Auckland students have launched a poster campaign in response to the university's handling of recent white supremacist material on campus.

The posters, designed by Gabriella Brayne, call out the university for being "unsafe" for students who do not identify as "a pakeha, cis, straight, middle-class male", "exclusive" and "inequitable". 

"Zero tolerance for protecting human rights and dignity," the posters read.

The University of Auckland has reportedly refused to remove material on campus promoting the website of an all-male, self-proclaimed "brotherhood of young European New Zealanders" with anti-migrant, white supremacist values. 

Students protest Auckland University's refusal to remove 'white supremacist' material
Photo credit: Gabriella Brayne / Supplied

A post on the group's website reportedly calls for "a new generation of capable, young white men who will assume the mantle of re-taking control of our own country".

On Tuesday, second-year law and arts students put up 150 of Brayne's posters around the university campus.

"There's a complete unwillingness to deal with white supremacy on campus or in student dorms. I made my parody of [the university's] 'Zero Discrimination' posters because the uni clearly has a lot of tolerance for discrimination," Brayne told Newshub.

However, Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon has reminded the protesters that although "unfortunate", the promotional material for the "brotherhood" is protected by free speech.

"The particular posters I have seen... are not of themselves hate speech, they are not illegal, they are not inciting people to violence," McCutcheon told the university's student magazine, Craccum.

"I tend to have the view that we should promote free speech wherever we can."

A police spokesperson told Newshub on Tuesday they will "not discuss specific groups or their tactics".

"Speaking generally we can say that we are aware that the actions of some groups may be offensive or upsetting to some people, but this does [not] in itself necessarily make those actions unlawful," said the spokesperson.

"Police actively work to ensure we have an in-depth knowledge of individuals whose actions may pose a threat in New Zealand, and we deal with them accordingly."

Brayne told Stuff she was "outraged" by the university's refusal to remove the group's material, saying it "completely goes against its policy guidelines about racism and xenophobia".

President of the Auckland University Students' Association (AUSA) George Barton told Stuff he "completely disagreed" with McCutcheon's views, but reiterated the Vice-Chancellor doesn't speak for the entirety of the university and its diverse community.

A spokeswoman for the university told the outlet on Tuesday that despite McCutcheon's views, the group's values are "totally inconsistent" with the institution's commitment to a safe and inclusive space.