Indigenous | Racism

Wāhine Māori a ‘familiar target’ for anti-Māori attacks and disinformation - report

A new study has found an increase in anti-Māori sentiment among some groups of New Zealanders in the lead-up to this year’s general election, with one target being high-profile wāhine Māori.

TitledRace and rage: Examining rising anti-Māori racism and white supremacist ideologies in Aotearoa New Zealand’, the study was conducted by the Disinformation Project, investigating the spread of disinformation against Māori that’s driven through social networks.

While it’s nothing new, project director Kate Hannah says the familiarity of misogyny and anti-Māori themes has been amplified, creating inaccuracies of certain profiles.

“This looks like widescale, organised targeting where they [attackers] have posted their [social media handle of Māori] repeatedly when there is a context they may be involved with but also when there is a context they may not be involved with whatsoever when certain issues are brought up,” Hannah says.

“These wāhine Māori will be looped in, a victim from the side, to any discourse about Māori that’s taking place in this election period.”

Hannah believes there’s more underneath, driving an agenda to reduce Māori in the political space, what has been done to have more female representation, and going backwards.

“We know that online harassment like this — international studies have shown — causes women, girls and gender-diverse people to look at politics, to look at leadership across the board, and go ‘actually, that might not be for me because I don’t know if I can cope with that kind of targeting.’”

The report, which had data collected from June to September this year, was done in response to “community need”.

“We’ve seen a really significant shift in the way that targeting towards wāhine Māori in particular social media is manifesting in-person harassment or in-person targeting for them.

“That is something, I think, in Aotearoa, we don’t expect people to have to deal with that when they’re trying to do their jobs.”


Public Interest Journalism