Woman's possible 5-year exclusion from real estate for protest against Māori values program 'cultural wokeness' - Winston Peters

  • 23/02/2024

Winston Peters is irate a woman's career may possibly be temporarily halted after she refused to partake in a Māori values course. 

The controversy started after real estate agent Janet Dickson called the course "woke madness" on social media, Open Justice reported

Having refused to take the Te Kākano course, Dickson was facing a five-year licence cancellation by the Real Estate Authority (REA). 

REA chief executive Belinda Moffatt said in a statement the issues raised by Dickson related to "continuing education requirements" under the law "which are conditions of a licence". 

She said the authority couldn't comment further because "this matter may be the subject of proceedings".

The REA noted that "in order to keep their license, licensees must meet continuing education requirements" as set out by the Real Estate Agents Act 2008.

"REA may exempt a licensee from CPD (continuing professional development) requirements in limited circumstances, including where there are exceptional circumstances," it said.

"The Real Estate Agent's Disciplinary Tribunal has confirmed that there is a high threshold for exemptions under exceptional circumstances and require the person to provide evidence of circumstances that are out of the ordinary and that prevent them from completing CPD.

"Section 54(d) of the Act requires that the Registrar must cancel a person's licence if the licensee has failed to complete the continuing education... required by the practice rules.

"Under section 37(d) of the Act, a person who has had their licence cancelled for failing to complete CPD is prohibited from holding a license for five years. Neither the cancellation, nor the five-year prohibition from holding a licence, is discretionary and the REA does not have any ability to choose whether or not to apply these requirements."

However, Dickson isn't going down without a fight - with the lobby group Hobson's Pledge, run by former National Party leader Don Brash, documenting her case and fundraising for a judicial review. 

And in a post on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters also spoke out in defence of Dickson. 

"NZ First campaigned warning this was what was going to happen... a dangerous future of cultural wokeness being forced upon people with threats of being cancelled and losing your job or promotions if you didn't comply," he said on X. 

"This is the reality now. And we intend to stop it." 

But Auckland real estate agent Tama Emery believed the course was valuable. 

"It's not ideal and it's a negative reflection on the industry itself because I believe there are key people with the REA and within our organisation that want to see te ao Māori brought to the forefront," he told TVNZ of the pushback. 

According to the REA, Te Kākano - which was mandatory last year - was a "90-minute online training video that provides a practical introduction to Māori culture, language (te reo), custom (tikanga) and te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi) in the real estate context".

"It highlights the relevance of these matters in the context of real estate agency work and related legislation such as the Resource Management Act 1991, Urban Development Act 2020, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 and Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 (the Māori Land Act 1993)," the agency said.

"The topic material was designed by Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi in partnership with REA."

Te Kākano was listed as an elective topic for this year.