Full interview: MP Shane Reti takes on Wicked Campers

Dr Shane Reti (Paul Henry)
Dr Shane Reti (Paul Henry)

Tourists driving vans hired from Wicked Campers might want to take extra care on the roads from today, as any insurance they've paid for might now be void.

The Australian company has been under fire lately for its vans' offensive art and slogans, with a number of camping grounds banning them outright. But Wicked Campers has resisted making any changes, flat-out ignoring the controversy.

"I wrote to them multiple times, wrote to the general manager, wrote to the owner, tried to speak to them, left voicemails -- no response," National MP Shane Reti said on the Paul Henry programme this morning.

The Advertising Standards Authority has called the company's van art "deliberately provocative and offensive". Some bear slogans advocating rape, drug use, murder and racial hatred.

After receiving several complaints from constituents in his Whangarei electorate and struggling to get in touch with Wicked Campers, Mr Reti decided to try another approach.

"We had a number of constituents write to us saying, 'You know, Snow White smoking crack? I think Disney is going to be upset with that. Maybe you should approach them.' And so we did."

Disney was "very angry" with Wicked Campers' use of their trademarks, as was Coca-Cola, whose logo is used in a reference to cocaine. Meanwhile, Pepsi was "furious".

"Pepsi basically said, and I quote, 'Pepsi New Zealand can confirm that it is in no way associated with Wicked Campers, and we will be following up with the company about the inappropriate and offensive use of the Pepsi trademark.' They are really angry," says Mr Reti.

As well as the "legal weight" Disney, Coca-Cola and Pepsi will bring to the fight, Mr Reti is warning tourists their own wallets might also be hit hard.

"When you go and pick up a rental van, often you're asked if you'd like to take up the extra insurance, what they call collision damage waiver -- and sometimes that fee can be as much as the daily hire," he explains.

"What a lot of people do is they use their credit card… and the credit card company will pick up that collision damage waiver. Turns out, when you speak with the major banks who are issuers of the cards, part of that regulation is that you must be obeying local regulations, local road rules. If you breach that, you actually void your insurance.

"Now, we know in Whangarei [Wicked Campers drivers] are breaching bylaws; we know in Queenstown and other councils as well… The implications there are: if you used your credit card right now, here today, you may have lost your insurance."

Mr Reti is calling on Kiwis to show tourists "a kindness" and give them a heads-up.

"If members of the public see people in these vans and they're concerned, they should mention to them, 'Look -- you may well have breached your insurance, you may not know that.'"

Mr Reti says Upper Harbour MP Paula Bennett and the chief censor are working on a solution, and will have something ready in about three weeks.