NZ First calls for Hindi flag votes to be nullified, after translation differs
A slight change in the Hindi translation of flag referendum instructions is "misleading", claim NZ First.
Therefore, party leader Winston Peters has called for all votes from Hindi-speaking people to be nullified.
The pamphlet titled 'How to vote' accompanies the ballot papers, and sets out the first step in English: "Tick the flag you want to be the New Zealand flag".
However, the Hindi translation reads: "Tick the flag you want to be the new New Zealand flag" - the word 'new' had been inserted.
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The Electoral Commission checked the translation when it was raised with them, and confirmed with their professional translation service that the instructions were correct.
The Hindi language does not allow a "word for word" translation, said a spokeswoman. They would not be changing the wording on the pamphlet.
Peters believed the wording was an attempt to manipulate the vote towards the Prime Minister's flag preference.
"It can't be a mistake. The fact of the matter is that this is a deliberate manipulation. And it's not the first time," said Peters.
"For example, the first flag on the voting paper is not our flag, the existing flag. No, it's the new one.
"What it does mean is...even though the Hindi voters are totally innocent, we can't surely count this vote now."
There are more than 60,000 Hindi speakers in New Zealand, according to the 2013 census. NZ First would now be checking all other voting instruction translations.
The issue was raised by NZ First MP Mahesh Bindra when he came across the pamphlet on Wednesday morning, and he said a couple of people from the Hindi community had also contacted him.
"They've said 'Why is it that the Hindi version differs from the English one?'" Bindra said.
"The voters get a different impression from the language."
Deputy prime minister Bill English had said he would be seeking advice about the "technical correctness" from the Electoral Commission.
"You certainly don't want voters in any way confused. As I understand it's the same ballot paper with the same flag choice on it, but the wording may be different than on other ballot papers."
English said any error would be a "translation mistake" or "just a misprint".
He refuted any claims of a deliberate attempt to mislead the public.