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BRYCE WILKINSON: Public inquiry needed on the Manurewa Marae allegations

Updated: Jun 9

Last weekend, deeply disturbing allegations emerged that the privacy of New Zealanders’ census data was grossly violated in the lead-up to the 2023 general election.

Media reports include allegations that confidential personal information collected during the 2023 census on behalf of Statistics New Zealand was illicitly copied for private benefit.

To make the potential violation of trust worse, it is alleged that the information might have been used to facilitate the political campaign of an associated person.

The candidate associated with the allegations was subsequently elected to parliament by a narrow majority.

The media also report claims of inducements being offered to some, but not all, to fill in the census forms and to register on the Māori electoral roll.

Most concerningly, one report claims that Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Social Development were warned at the time of these wrongdoings “but did not respond”. Why on earth not? Is New Zealand now a corrupt country?

The whistleblowers’ claims are that hundreds of census forms were photocopied and retained by marae staff, with personal details entered into a database and sent to the Waipareira Trust, headed by Te Pāti Māori president John Tamihere.

This information was then allegedly used to target voters in the Tāmaki Makaurau electorate, where the Te Pāti Māori candidate narrowly won by just 42 votes.

Whistleblowers also allege that voters were offered $100 supermarket vouchers, wellness packs or food parcels to induce them to complete census forms and enrolment forms to switch to the Māori roll.

This week, those accused are variously denying wrong-doing, not responding, or counter-attacking with irrelevant claims.

Statistics New Zealand is appointing an investigator. His terms of reference should include assessing whether Stats NZ was informed at the time. The Privacy Commissioner is looking into the allegations, too. The police may be. The Labour Party has laid a complaint with the Electoral Commission.

Currently, these events have raised questions about the will of the responsible government agencies to guard the integrity of the population censuses, the commissioning of social work, and general election processes.

To be warned of the alleged goings on and not to act would represent an appalling dereliction of duty. So did the whistleblowers warn them at the time, or not? And did they respond as they should have, or not?

A public inquiry is needed if suspicion, doubt and anger are not to fester.

Bryce is a Senior Fellow at The New Zealand Initiative, and also the Director of the Wellington-based economic consultancy firm Capital Economics. Prior to setting this up in 1997 he was a Director of, and shareholder in, First NZ Capital. Before moving into investment banking in 1985, he worked in the New Zealand Treasury, reaching the position of Director. Bryce holds a PhD in economics from the University of Canterbury and was a Harkness Fellow at Harvard University. He is a Fellow of the Law and Economics Association of New Zealand.

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178 commenti

About 15 years ago I spent some months working for the electoral commission They took the integrity of our systems very very seriously What the hell has gone wrong in NZ? Once a model democracy

Mi piace

I despite the current attempt by any means to lock in the concept of a partnership between the Crown and Maori.

An out of date and selfish concept dreamed up by an activist judiciary augmented by a rich, sly and underhand tribal elite loaded with Auckland academics and their sometimes dubious PhDs. Posthole diggers!

NZ has well and truly moved on from being bicultural  in 1840 to a multicultural society now.

Tribal claims for further redress for past wrongs are unfair. Selfish even.

Mi piace

Steven (in the forum) asks the following question (despite a spread of reasons that are threaded through out the entire website forum that do answer his question indirectly. Therefore the question deserves a rather longer explanation as follows given the importance of how UNDRIP is playing out for NZ as matters progress and given the recent Law Commission's selective advice to Luxon (that is flawed due to its selectivity) that stated "UNDRIP cannot be withdrawn from."

Steven asked in reply to aisr:

Why would New Zealand wish to withdraw from UNDRIP and align itself with the only countries who abstained from voting (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine)? New Zealand stands with the…

Mi piace

Bob Dylan said it all 6o years ago, but it could be New Zealand now.

Come gather 'round people

Wherever you roam

And admit that the waters

Around you have grown

And accept it that soon

You'll be drenched to the bone

If your time to you is worth savin'

And you better start swimmin'

Or you'll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin'

Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call

Don't stand in the doorway

Don't block up the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled

The battle outside is ragin'

Will soon shake your windows

And rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin'

Mi piace

Some in the Forum prefer to suggest Maori are not "indigenous" as the simple solution


[Hint to save time] - Don’t read this lengthy missive if you believe arguing as to the definition of “indigenous” is sufficient to avoid future generations having to kowtow to indigenisation of NZ - now well underway.


Well on that basis some might not realise how the system is being run in NZ.  It’s more appropriate maybe to suggest Maori is an ethnicity in the multicultural population with colonialism grievance claims; but is Maori indigenous?


Well the indigenous definition has already been determined by Government and international agencies that wish to give Maori a greater right than just an ethnicity – they…

Mi piace
Risposta a

Thank you. The impression I get is that the war is not commencing but is already over and that legally the indigenous way is a wax nose since interpretation of the terms used are so flexible that we are already going down a road to perdition legally, democratically and morally.

Mi piace
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