Marlborough man agrees to remove 'equal rights for Kiwi whites' sign after meeting with police

The owner of the bulldozer has agreed to cover up the message after meeting with police.
The owner of the bulldozer has agreed to cover up the message after meeting with police. Photo credit: Supplied

A Marlborough man has agreed to remove a "racist" message he spray-painted onto a bulldozer on the roadside outside his home after a meeting with police.

The message, which reads "ALM: equal rights for Kiwi whites", has been on display at a property in the rural suburb of Renwick since just after Christmas.

ALM is short for All Lives Matter, a sentiment frequently used to undermine the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the US, which protests police brutality and racial violence against African-Americans.

A complaint was made to police about the sign earlier this month, and they have since confirmed to Newshub the man behind it has agreed to cover up the message.

"Police acknowledge that the spray-painted message caused concern for some members of the community," a spokesperson said.

"Police met with an occupant of the address today. He agreed to cover up the message."

A complaint was also made to the Marlborough District Council over the sign. The council is still carrying out a review of whether it contravened Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan (PMEP) bylaws.

While the written content of the sign is not a matter the council can regulate under its bylaws, there are rules against signs being erected in residential areas in an effort to "reduce signage clutter, preserve amenity values and ensure traffic safety", a council spokesperson told Newshub.

Marlborough District Council are reviewing whether the sign breaches its district plan.
Marlborough District Council are reviewing whether the sign breaches its district plan. Photo credit: Google Maps

Both the police and council complaints were filed by Renwick local Tineka Smith last week.

She told Stuff she found the sign offensive and racist.

"We shouldn't be made to feel uncomfortable in our homes. I feel like we've got quite a good community out there and I'm outraged that it's been allowed to sit there and actually be normalised," she said.

"It's disgusting to think that's sitting there, it's so close to the school, I think it's confusing for our tamariki."

A council spokesperson says both Smith and the property owner would be notified of its decision in due course.

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) told Newshub it wouldn't speak specifically about the sign. However it points out the BLM movement is a reaction to systemic racism in the US - not a claim that non-Black lives are not as important.

"BLM has prompted international debate and sometimes divisive rhetoric in response including here in New Zealand. A similar misconception locally, erroneously suggests that support of BLM, compromises the rights of other groups," an HRC spokesperson told Newshub.

"Many tangata whenua, minority, and ethnic groups in New Zealand similarly relate to BLM, because of the differential and sometimes racist treatment they can also receive when interacting with police and justice systems.

"Since this treatment is discriminatory, avoidable, and preventable, BLM and local supporters aim to highlight and call for action to address these injustices." 

The BLM movement experienced a renaissance in 2020 after the death of unarmed African-American man George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.

In the wake of video footage of Floyd's death, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in the US and across the world took to the streets in protest at the treatment of Floyd and other people of colour.