Race Relations Commissioner says YouTube video threatening violence against Māori is 'extreme white supremacist' behaviour

Meng Foon
Meng Foon Photo credit: Newshub

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon says a recent YouTube video threatening violence against Māori is "extreme white supremacist" behaviour. 

Foon told Newshub he wants "everything under the law [to] be thrown at these people or this person for inciting violence". 

The video was uploaded to YouTube on May 23 but was taken down after the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) got involved.

The contents of the video were described as "highly distressing" in a statement provided by the DIA to the NZ Herald. 

Police confirmed an investigation has been launched, with a spokesperson saying they are "following strong lines of enquiry". 

Foon said this kind of sentiment is not surprising for Māori as "they have had this since 1840". 

But he said it is distressing and disappointing in 2021, when the Government has strongly built relationships with Māori, that there are extremists who continue to feel this way and use hate speech. 

Foon told Newshub he hopes the police and Netsafe will do their best to get to the bottom of who this person or group of people are and said "may the law prevail."

He said "while freedom of speech is freedom of speech," it comes with responsibilities. 

"I am really encouraging the Government to actually cover hate speech for people of gender, of disabilities and religious beliefs because those three groups aren't covered at all."

He said the Government promised they would cover those three groups after March 15 but claimed people are still waiting for that change to be made. 

"People are in danger by not being covered by the law, therefore they are afraid," Foon added. 

Director of digital safety at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) Jarren Mullen, said the video was removed by YouTube on May 24 and "could well be objectionable".

"We have referred a copy of the video to the Chief Censor for classification," Mullen said on May 28.

"Once the video has been classified the department will coordinate with police to consider any further action that may be appropriate."

Mullen warned that making, sharing or holding objectionable material is an offence under the Films, Video, Publication and Classifications Act.

Foon said he also sent the video to the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and they are working with the police cooperatively.  

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised reforms of hate speech laws in the aftermath of the 2019 Christchurch terror attack.