Paul Goldsmith denies breaking law over Te Papa letter

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Paul Goldsmith is in defence mode after asking Te Papa to take down a defaced Treaty of Waitangi display.   

But legally he can't tell the museum what to do.  

Protesters struck in broad daylight armed with spray paint, hoping to correct what they saw as an injustice.   

"They have Te Tiriti o Waitangi on one side and a huge the Treaty on the other side in English. A lot of people probably aren't [aware] that those two documents are different, they don't say the same thing," one protestor said at the time.   

The defaced panel is still up, and the Arts and Culture minister is unhappy about that.  

"I think most New Zealanders would expect a minister to be able to say quite clearly, 'Look I think it should be replaced, it shouldn't be left up permanently because it is a vandalised piece of artefact'," said Goldsmith.  

Goldsmith contacted the board chair last year.  

"They were quite clear that it wouldn't be able to come down over the summer. Well, the summer's ended and it's time to have it replaced. Ultimately, I cannot give them an instruction," he said on Thursday.  

In February, he followed up with a letter saying, "I would like to express my strong view that the damaged panel should be removed or repaired as soon as possible" and "I consider that the damage to the panel denigrates our nation's founding documents and national identity".  

He told media on Thursday: "It's important that people feel proud of these institutions so when that Treaty thing was defaced and vandalised I think it is important that it should be replaced."  

That so-called treaty thing is a matter for the museum and under the law, specifically the Te Papa Tongarewa Act.   

"The Minister may not give a direction to the Board in relation to cultural matters," it says.  

Newshub showed Goldsmith that piece of the law on Thursday.  

"I haven't given them a direction, because I can't. But I've certainly made my expectation that it should come down sooner rather than later."  

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson said: "It sounds like a direction to me and that does go against the Act."  

"The Prime Minister needs to get a handle on the ministers already starting to breach those laws."  

Goldsmith's boss though was caught unaware.   

"I haven't been briefed on it that's a question you'd need to direct to Paul Goldsmith who's our minister there," Christopher Luxon said.  

Goldsmith said: "It's very clear I haven't given them an instruction because I can't but I've made my view clear."