Maori MPs claim TVNZ KiwiMeter survey incites racial intolerance
MPs are calling for TVNZ to pull "racist" questions from its KiwiMeter survey.
Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis said parts of the survey - designed to find out how "Kiwi" we are - aimed at inciting racial intolerance.
The KiwiMeter survey asks New Zealanders questions about nationhood and, in the values section, touches on Māori culture.
One of the questions asks whether Māori should not have special treatment.
Labour's Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis said the question was "out and out racism" and it needed to be removed from the survey.
"It just evokes images of Don Brash 2004: implying that Maori have special treatment, I'd like to know what special treatment they're talking about.
"Is it our health statistics, the fact that we're dying 10 years earlier than non-Maori, our poor education statistics?
"What exactly are they meaning by special treatment? I just find it offensive," Davis said.
Labour leader Andrew Little said the question was "dubious" and "smacks more of prejudice".
"I think it's ham-fisted and cack-handed," he said.
"It begs the question that there is special treatment anyway. I thought it was an odd question to ask, I'm not quite sure why it would appear in a survey."
"I just think they've got to acknowledge that it wasn't a well-constructed question."
Prime Minister John Key said it was a legitimate question to ask. "But I think most New Zealanders would say the answer to that is 'no'.
"We are partners together.
"I always think New Zealand is the point at which we signed the treaty. It was the foundation stone of modern New Zealand, but it was the foundation stone where we were equal and treated equally.
"I think my own view is that Government should fund on the basis of need, not on the basis of race.
"Sometimes that means there is a lot more funding that goes towards Maori, but that's because they're in the greatest need in those particular areas," he said.
There was nothing wrong with asking a question, "to get a sense of what people's views are".
"People ask questions all the time about potentially controversial things, we live in an open society and people are free to ask a question."
TVNZ head of news and current affairs John Gillespie said he would not apologise for the question.
"We think that in the survey it is important to be robust and to have questions in it that reflect all parts of society so we won't be taking out questions where we thought long and hard about why they're in there."
Clifton van der Linden, the chief executive of Canadian company Vox Pop Labs which was in charge of the survey, said Davis' claims were "categorically false".
The survey reflected views that already existed, he said.
"Asking the question doesn't imply Māori received special treatment....
"We can learn more about the mechanisms through which racism and prejudices operate and find ways to combat these prejudices.
"If you don't ask the question, how do you hope to find the answer?"
Another asks whether a "history of discrimination" makes it difficult for Maori to be successful.
TVNZ had been "very defensive" about the survey, but Davis said their response "just doesn't wash with me".
"I've made my point very clear: I think it's offensive, I think it's racist, and I think it should be pulled."
TVNZ's Gillespie said 120,000 people had already participated in the survey, including Māori.
The Human Rights Commission was also looking into the issue, and said the question about Māori receiving special treatment assumed that was the case.
Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said she wanted to know more about how the survey was undertaken.
The whole survey "is trying to gauge what New Zealanders think about New Zealanders", she said.
"But when you look at questions over religion, immigration and Māori, why do we need a Canadian company on behalf to TVNZ to write a survey about ourselves?"
The survey also included questions about religion and immigration, including whether immigration is a threat to New Zealand culture and whether society would be better off if more people were religious.