Fact-check of Sky News Australia segment warning of 'apartheid' in New Zealand

Sky News Australia host Andrew Bolt has warned of "apartheid" in New Zealand, pointing to the controversial He Puapua report and Three Waters reforms - but many of the claims are questionable. 

"Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand; she has been the poster child of the left for a couple of years now. But what she is doing to New Zealand actually amazes me; in fact, it scares me," Bolt says in the segment

"Be warned: this is where woke politics is taking us all - to a form of apartheid."

In the segment, Bolt introduces Dr Muriel Newman, who he describes as a former business representative, a former politician and now head of the think tank the New Zealand Centre for Political Research. 

She was an ACT MP from 1996 until 2005.

A fact-check of the claims

"The Māori population of New Zealand is about 16 percent and that includes people who also have European ancestry," said Bolt. 

  • Fact-check: This statement is accurate. The Māori population of New Zealand is about 16.7 percent, according to Stats NZ. 

"But Ardern's Cabinet commissioned a report which sets out a 20-year plan to have New Zealand essentially ruled 50-50, on race grounds, Māori and non-Māori," Bolt adds. 

  • Fact-check: The He Puapua report he refers to contains ideas about Māori "self-determination", not Maori taking control of half of everything in New Zealand. 
  • The report states: "It is important to emphasise that under a rangatiratanga Māori model, Māori are seeking authority to determine their own destinies, rather than to regulate all people in Aotearoa."
  • The 123-page report contains a series of aspirational steps from 2019, when it was first presented to the Government, to 2040 - the 200 year anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Treaty of Waitangi. 
  • Some suggestions in the report are very ambitious, such as a separate Upper House in Parliament for Māori, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ruled out. 
  • The report outlines a "roadmap" to achieve "Vision 2040" - a realisation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which New Zealand signed up to in 2010 under former Prime Minister John Key's leadership. 
  • The Government commissioned the report in 2019 as a response to New Zealand signing the UN declaration. The He Puapua report is not Government policy. The Government is currently consulting on some of the ideas. 

"Ardern has already created a new Māori Health Authority, the first step to a divided health system - divided by race," says Bolt. 

"Can you tell us about this plan? Because the amazing thing to me is there's been so little debate in New Zealand about what seems to me a very clear plan for apartheid in your country," Bolt asks. 

"Well, you're right Andrew It was introduced under the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples, so it was a plan to implement that into the national agenda, if you like," Newman replies. 

"What came out of it was in fact He Puapua, which is a plan for tribal control by 2040, which is the 200-year anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. 

  • Fact-check: The He Puapua report does not suggest Māori taking control of half of New Zealand. It contains ambitions for Māori "self-determination", "which we understand to be Māori control over Māori destinies".
  • An example of this is Whānau Ora, a health initiative introduced under the previous National-led Government, which is driven by Māori cultural values

"That report was produced in 2019. But the Government kept it secret, even from their coalition partner New Zealand First, for the whole of 2020," Newman says. 

"Then the election came along and they kept it secret, and now that they have total power, total control, they are implementing it at speed, and it is extremely frightening because most Kiwis have no idea what's going on."

"They see changes every day and wonder what on earth is driving it and unfortunately we're in a situation where the Government has spent $55 million on a public interest broadcasting fund which is something that the media can apply for to get grants and one of the conditions of doing that is they have to, if you like, speak out in favour of this Treaty partnership agenda," Newman says. 

"You've raised so many things here that really disturb me," Bolt says.

"You say this is to mark the anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi. As I understand it, the Treaty of Waitangi was Māori tribes who had been decimating each other in war, coming together to say to the British, 'we accept British sovereignty. And now, to mark the anniversary, you're going to undo all that by having 50-50 after all. It just doesn't make sense."

  • Fact-check: British sovereignty was proclaimed on May 21, 1840. The Treaty is an agreement, in Māori and English, that was made between the British Crown and about 540 Māori rangatira, or chiefs. 
  • Because there were two versions of the Treaty - in Māori and in English - there has been endless debate about how the articles are interpreted. 
  • In the English version, Māori gave sovereignty to the British Queen. Sovereignty means absolute and total control of everything. So, in the English version, Māori gave the British total control of the country. 
  • The Māori word 'rangatiratanga' is similar to 'sovereignty'. But the Māori version did not say they would give 'rangatiratanga' to the British. It said Māori gave 'kawanatanga' to the British, which in English means 'governance'. 

"It doesn't make sense to Kiwis either," says Newman. "The reality is that the Treaty brought equality - equal rights for all New Zealanders and that is the way this country has developed."

  • Fact-check: The term 'equality' is questionable. Māori have worse outcomes than non-Māori across almost every measure. Māori have a life expectancy more than seven years lower than non-Māori. 
  • It's also questionable to suggest Maori were treated equally to non-Maori when New Zealand saw an era of societal segregation. 
  • An Auckland University paper published last year looked into the era of segregation in New Zealand with a focus on Pukekohe from 1925 to the early 1960s. During that period, Māori were segregated in society so as not to offend Pākehā.  
  • Māori were forced to sit in designated sections of the cinema, were denied taxi rides and forced to stand for white bus passengers, and were only allowed to use the school swimming baths on Fridays, after which the dirty water was changed.
  • Dr Claire Charters, a member of the He Puapua working group commissioned by Te Puni Kōkiri, advocates for what's called substantive equality, which is ensuring disadvantaged people aren't just treated the same - but that the outcomes are equitable.

"There's been a strong movement, I guess, from sovereignty activists that sort of arose in the 80s, but somehow over recent years they've managed to march into many institutions in New Zealand and take over some positions of power," says Newman. 

"They've marched now into Government, and as I said, because the Labour Party doesn't need a coalition partner anymore under our MMP electoral system, it means that the Māori caucus actually has a lot of control over Cabinet."

  • Fact-check: It's true there is more diverse representation today. New Zealand's 53rd Parliament is the most diverse in history, with nearly 50 percent of the 120 seats held by women, 11 percent LGBTQI representation and 21 percent Māori MPs. 
  • It's also true that Labour does not need a coalition partner after it won a majority at the election, the first time this has happened under the MMP electrical system. Labour's Māori caucus is the largest ever, with 15 members. 

"You mentioned the Māori health system or the Māori Health Authority, which will end up with the right of veto over the whole health system," says Newman. 

"We're fighting a battle against Three Waters, where the Government's got this plan to centralise control of water services - that's wastewater, stormwater and freshwater - take it away from councils, and centralise it in four authorities and they'll be half controlled by local iwi," says Newman. 

"That'll give them essentially the right of veto over water in New Zealand."

"All this is going on without an open debate," says Newman. 

"It's going on secretly. I mean, we're sort of picking up on it but we're small voices trying to warn the country that this is underway and they should be aware of it and if they don't like it they should damn well speak out about it."

"I simply don't understand why there's not a debate," says Bolt. "Even if you were a journalist who loved all this, 50-50 go out there and talk about how good it is, you look up stories about this, I find almost nothing."