National | Anti Co-Governance

Māori filmmaker refused entry to Stop Co-Governance meeting

Stop Co-Governance roadshow organiser Julian Batchelor at a Kerikeri meeting. Photo / Peter de Graaf

A Te Tauihu iwi member who tried to enter an anti co-governance meeting in Blenheim was stopped at the door, as were other whānau who showed up.

Anti co-governance speaker Julian Batchelor has been taking his roadshow across the country, with several more meetings, including back in Blenheim and Picton, still planned.

Marlborough filmmaker Keelan Walker tried to attend the meeting in Blenheim earlier this month, saying he was "keen to ask Julian a few questions around his views and understanding of co-governance and his interpretation of Te Tiriti".

But Batchelor stopped Walker at the door, and said he could not come in because he wasn't a "good Māori", who would sit there and listen and "be respectful all the way through". Walker filmed the conversation on his phone. At one point, Batchelor asked if Walker was recording. Walker told him he was.

Walker, of Rangitāne, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Apa and Ngāi Tahu descent, said the only Māori who managed to get in were "fairer in complexion".

"It's disgusting that, in this day and age, public events can still be held under the guise of a private meeting, for the purpose of race-based admissions.

"I found it hypocritical that we could see through the windows inside the hall and there were banners that had been erected that read, 'Stop Apartheid in New Zealand', yet here Julian was at the door doing the exact opposite and denying Māori entry."

In the video, Batchelor denied refusing anyone entry based on race.

Speaking to a Local Democracy reporter this week, Batchelor said "activists" were not allowed into the Blenheim meeting, which he said had about 200 people there. Pamphlets went into letterboxes across the region ahead of the meeting.

"It's based on their intentions, not on race," Batchelor said.

"The reason they were not admitted, was not because of the colour of their skin, it was because of them being activists."

Batchelor's website said he was "fighting against tribal rule, racism, separatism, and apartheid ... for one person, one vote, for one law for all and racial unity". It also said "protesters are simply pawns in the elite Māori plan to take over New Zealand".

Batchelor's Stop Co-Governance roadshow had been consistently met with protests, like in Levin, when a meeting was canned after clashes with protesters, who accused organisers of only excluding Māori.

A Havelock North meeting was cancelled after the venue said "no amount of security could control the level of noise or protest activity expected".

In Nelson, city councillor Matty Anderson attended a meeting. Before leaving, he told Batchelor: "I'm really sorry, but it's horrible in here". The Human Rights Commission has received complaints about the tour.

As more Māori turned up at the Blenheim meeting, which police attended, Walker's video showed a Pākehā man challenging Batchelor for refusing them entry.

"Why aren't they allowed in? They're Kiwis like us. If you're not letting them in, it's worse than I thought it was.

"Doesn't seem right to me mate. Your invitations went in every letterbox."

Walker said he was disappointed this man was the only person who called out what was happening.

Meanwhile, inside the meeting, a woman was captured on a different video standing up and saying she had had enough. That video was shared on TikTok and had 280,000 views.

"I can't believe all you people are here, you're good people, we get on well in Blenheim. There's no divide," the woman said.

"And you [Batchelor] come to Blenheim, and you're dividing us."

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ on Air.

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Local Democracy Reporting