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"One Treaty, One Nation" pamphlet breaches Advertising Standards Code

24 July 2019

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has partly upheld a complaint about a pamphlet headed “One Treaty, One Nation”.

The pamphlet contained statements such as “The benefits of colonisation for Maoris [sic], lifting them out of a violent Stone Age existence, far outweighed any negative consequences. The treaty put an end to cannibalism, slavery, infanticide, and the constant inter-tribal wars which had killed about a third of the population in the previous 20 years. With Western medicine Maori life expectancy has risen from 20 to 25 years (1840) to 75 years today” and "An end to the stranglehold that one minority group has over the culture and life of a nation" and “The Maori people ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria in 1840..."

The complainant was concerned the advertisement was racist and included false statements about Māori.

The advertiser said the ASA has no jurisdiction in this case and the Advertising Standards Code (ASC) did not apply to this pamphlet. It argued that the code applies to advertisements in media and that 1Law4All is not “media”. The advertiser denied the pamphlet was racist and said that it called for democracy.

The ASA's complaints board confirmed the pamphlet was an advertisement and that the ASC applied. The pamphlet met the definition of an advertisement as the content was controlled by the advertiser and had the intent of influencing those to whom it was addressed. 

A majority of the complaints board said a statement in the pamphlet, describing “the benefits of colonisation” for Māori, was likely to cause serious offence. The majority noted that while the pamphlet is advocating a certain political perspective, the examples used to illustrate this perspective are derogatory and likely to cause serious offence.

The other two statements "An end to the stranglehold that one minority group has over the culture and life of a nation" and “The Maori people ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria in 1840..." were expressions of political opinion and did not reach the threshold to be considered offensive.

As the first statement was in breach of Rule 1(c) the advertisement was not socially responsible and was in breach of Principle 1 and Rule 1(c) of the ASC. The Complaints Board ruled the complaint was upheld in part and the advertisement was to be removed.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019