The National Party has launched a billboard campaign imploring Kiwis to demand the debate on Government policies it says are being rushed through with insufficient consultation.
National leader Judith Collins launched the campaign on a busy street corner in Aucklands Mt Wellington on Sunday morning, under a new digital billboard bearing her face and the message: He Puapua? Demand the Debate.
The message references the contentious He Puapua report, commissioned by Te Puni Kkiri and written in 2019 to set out how the Government could achieve the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
It describes a New Zealand in 2040 with a Mori court system, rates exemptions for freehold Mori land, and new constitutional arrangements to grant Mori more power over their affairs.
READ MORE:* The Detail: What is He Puapua, and why is it making headlines?* Ardern on a hot tin roof over He Puapua plan to share power with Mori * Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Judith Collins raises ‘separatism’ claims due to low polling
Collins has repeatedly said the report showed the Government was implementing separatism by stealth.
In May, when controversy over the report was at its peak, Mori Party co-leader Rwiri Waititi said Collins was pushing racist propaganda and rhetoric towards tangata whenua.
Waititi was kicked out of the house after performing a haka in protest at the National Partys rhetoric.
Speaking to media at the launch, Collins said the message on the billboard was the first of several the party would be running.
One of those was set to touch on the Governments controversial moves to make hate speech a Crimes Act offence, she said.
Collins accused the Government of pushing through changes it did not campaign on.
Judith Collins embraces North Shore MP Simon Watts at the launch of its new “demand the debate” campaign on Sunday in Auckland.
It is all about the fact that New Zealanders all around the country are telling us that the Government is implementing policies and very serious law changes without ever having campaigned on them.
We’re now seeing other changes, where theyre talking about a separate justice system and other changes that New Zealanders have never signed up to, and never had a debate about.
This is just the first of the billboards, but we have other issues that well be running out over the next few weeks.
The party has established a website,, in support of the campaign and to solicit donations.
National deputy leader Shane Reti at the launch in Mt Wellington.
Collins repeatedly referred to talkback radio, saying Kiwis should use the medium to make their voices heard on contentious issues.
There’s very few opportunities for people other than through letter writing, through contacting their MPs by sending emails, by going onto particular websites and blogs.
But one of the more effective ways is often on talkback radio, and we just think that it is just very important for people to not shut down their own opportunities to have their say.
Collins laughed off a question about whether the campaign was an attempt to win back voters on the political right after a poll days earlier showed ACT leader David Seymour had overtaken her in the preferred prime minister rankings.
No, not at all.
Party faithful surround Collins as she addresses media under the new billboard.
In fact what it is, is a reaction to a Government that is becoming increasingly arrogant towards the people that it’s supposed to be representing.
National MP Melissa Lee keeps a young supporter warm.
She said the party had received large amounts of feedback from people who feel they cannot make their views public.
What they’re saying to us, is they’re feeling shut down.
Theyre very nervous about what is happening.
Collins addresses media, flanked by Deputy Leader Shane Reti (left) and party president Peter Goodfellow (right).
They’ve said to me, that if they make their thoughts known, that theyll be accused of being racist.
A statement supplied by Prime Minister Jacinda Arderns chief press secretary defended the Government’s record.
The Government is getting on with the priorities we were elected on – managing our recovery from Covid, rolling out the vaccine, addressing the housing crisis we inherited from National, reducing child poverty and tackling climate change.
A year after the arrival of Covid-19 our plan is working. New Zealand remains in a very strong position with no community transmission, freedoms few others countries have and an economy with higher growth and lower unemployment than countries we compare ourselves to like Australia and the UK.