Whakatau 2023 | Co-Governance

DB Breweries distances itself from Julian Batchelor ‘Yeah, right’ billboards

A Stop Co-Governance sign on SH6 between Renwick and Havelock mimicking the famous Tui beer billboards. Photo / Anthony Phelps / Stuff.

DB Breweries is distancing itself from anti co-governance billboards popping up on roadsides using the “Yeah, right” format made famous by their long-running Tui campaign.

Sporting slogans like “Co-governance is in the Treaty” and “No cultural group receives special rights in NZ” both followed by “Yeah, right”, the billboards have been erected by activist Julian Batchelor.

They have only appeared in pockets, but after the signs were brought to the attention of the brewery, a spokesperson said “we don’t have any connection to the ads or messaging represented in the ads”.

“We have recently been informed about the use of our Tui billboard format in these ads, and note that we are taking steps to contact the people and organisations involved regarding this content,” she said.

She would not say if they would be claiming any copyright or trademark infringement, which they have done in instances of people using the look-alike signs in the past.

But Batchelor, a real estate agent-cum-activist, said DB had asked him whether he had the right to use the “Yeah, right” catchphrase, but he wasn’t backing down.

“We’re asking them to prove they have the copyright on those words,” he said.

He said he would be keeping the signs up, with “about 80 up around the country [already] and they’re going up every single day”.

“They’re actually fun,” he said. “I believe humour is a great way to get across a message.”

Begging to differ about how fun the signs are is Dan Lander from Rongomou Community Action, a Taranaki-based grassroots movement committed to Māori representation.

He alerted DB to the signs after he saw the billboards on Batchelor’s website.

“We’re not against the conversation about co-governance, but my feeling is that the way the Stop Co-governance crowd is going about it is aggressive, it’s unhelpful, it’s divisive.

“And my questions to DB is: Does DB want to be aligned with a conversation like that?”

Batchelor has run into opposition while touring his Stop Co-Governance roadshow around the country, where he has been met by protesters and venues have cancelled bookings.

He even ran afoul of the Electoral Commission, which is now investigating whether a widely distributed pamphlet he made might have constituted a breach of the Electoral Act.

Speaking at a meeting in Picton in July, he said his group had been “cancelled out of buildings all around the country”.