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Casey Costello: How dare you, Kelvin!!! – I stand with Karen

I am hoping you might indulge me as I write about the events of this week and how it demonstrates the dangerous path of division we are being forced down by a Labour Government controlled by its Maori caucus that is yet again demonstrating racist bullying that no other elected representatives could get away with.

On Wednesday I discovered a new hero, something that is rare in New Zealand at the moment.

ACT’s Karen Chhour demonstrated what it means to be a proud, dignified New Zealander who also represents Maoridom in a manner which is inspiring.

In her fight to protect the rights of vulnerable children, she was attacked by an individual that can only be described as a bully and a thug.

Supported by the derisive laughter of his peers, Kelvin Davis attempted to belittle the ACT MP, not by challenging the facts at issue, but by attacking her identity.

(Click here to watch the news coverage.)

Sitting in the lofty heights as the self-appointed determiner of what Maori are and are not allowed to think and feel, he denied Karen Chhour her identity.

Let us not forget that Kelvin Davis, before Labour came into Government, made it a bottom line that he would resign from Parliament if Charter Schools were scrapped. Charter Schools were quickly scrapped under the Labour Government and, demonstrating the backbone of an invertebrate, Kelvin fell silent on his bottom line, with his forty pieces of silver including the deputy leadership.

Charter Schools were the most successful educational system for at risk and vulnerable Maori kids, achieving outcomes that were unprecedented. It seems, however, that once in government, Kelvin was not interested in what’s good for Maori; he’s only interested in advancing himself and a narrative of separatism.

Let us not get bogged down in the need to achieve real benefit for Maori when we can instead deliver a bunch of virtue signalling nonsense that benefits only an elite class of Maori, who can slap each other on the back enjoying the success of bullying those who are trying to advocate for the vulnerable.

But, of course, I will be classified by Kelvin as having the “vanilla lens” that prevents me for exposing a fraud and bully when I see one. I can’t possibly speak until, according to the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, I “cross the bridge that is Te Tiriti o Waitangi” so I can get to understand my Maori world better.

I wonder by whose measure the understanding of my “Maori world” is tested. After six years of advocating for equality of rights for ALL New Zealanders in my role with Hobson’s Pledge, the attacks on my right to speak as a Maori are truly water off a duck’s back. Unlike the Kelvins of this world, I don’t claim to speak for ALL Maori. I am not afraid of my views being challenged and I will debate the issues and demand accountability. I do not need to resort to name-calling and insults that belittle those who have a different point of view. But in Kelvin’s case, I have decided an exception can be made.

Karen Chhour demonstrates the growing awakening of Maori who have tired of the bullies and thugs who claim to speak for “us”. She speaks for accountability, and demands delivery of better solutions without being distracted by this narrative that Maori are incapable of achieving on merit because of events that unfolded two hundred years ago.

Yes, New Zealand can do better in protecting the vulnerable and improving outcomes but this takes serious conversations by intelligent people. And, despite Kelvin’s protestations, being Maori or not has nothing to do with your competency to find solutions.

The impact of Kelvin Davis’s actions is far greater than the offence from the insults in the House because he set himself above other Maori as the gatekeeper for te ao Maori, the Maori World View.

And as you may have seen in the House, he was egged on and encouraged by his Labour caucus who took pleasure in their ability to decide who will be allowed into their exclusive club of Maoridom.

So we now expose the truth of the Labour Maori caucus agenda: we are not being divided just by whether we are Maori or non-Maori, that is too simple. For being Maori, although undefined, now requires you to meet the standard set by Labour. The qualification to join this exclusive club is no longer whakapapa, it is whether you agree with the elected and self-appointed elite.

In 14 years police service, mostly in South Auckland, I saw suffering and cruelty that I have carried with me throughout my life. One night after finishing duty, I remember being so distraught by a certain event that I went home to my mother for a quiet cry in despair about what I had experienced. I was saddened and in some way ashamed because it was a Maori family that had been the perpetrators of what had happened. I told her of my disgust and contempt for those involved and she gently reminded me “that is not Maori, don’t let bad people take away from you what you know to be true, you know what Maori is, Maori is Mama (my grandmother) and Dangy (my grandfather), always remember that.”

And until Kelvin’s outburst I did.

Because Kelvin wants to be the authority on what it means to be Maori, he will decide who has the right to speak. He will determine whether you have qualified to be Maori. According to Kelvin, those whom I experienced and assessed as being pure evil but who were living in the “Maori world” would be more qualified to speak for us. But those of us who he believes live in the “pakeha world” are precluded from being qualified to comment.

But don’t forget that it is not as simple as qualifying under Kelvin’s test because if you do not advocate in agreement with Labour’s agenda then you will also be evaluated by Willie Jackson, the Minister of Maori Development, as “USELESS”. And to be clear, Willie is pictured in the House seated behind the Deputy Leader laughing his encouragement for the attack on Karen Chhour.

This Labour Government has not achieved, in their five years in power, one positive shift in the dial for any measure of Maori outcomes. There have been no better education outcomes, no real reduction in homelessness and no increase in home ownership, no lifting out of poverty, no reduction in prison numbers, no enhancement to mental health………nothing. But rather than hanging their heads in shame or seeking better solutions, they double down, apparently believing the best form of defence is attack. Their failures are laid at the feet of systemic racism and colonisation.

What a perfect scenario: you can be the Government of ineptitude and abject failure but protected from any accountability for that failure – “it’s not our fault, it’s colonisation”.

So rather than be exposed as failures in the representation of Maori interests, the MP for Te Tai Tokerau, effectively the MP for Ngapuhi, just attacks a fellow Ngapuhi, for not being Maori enough to speak.

And yes I know, through public pressure he has apologised and apparently, the giggling Labour MPs behind him are now reported as being the Labour colleagues that were unhappy with the comments. Too little too late!

The rules of engagement have been defined and the penalty for this behaviour was evident in the Prime Minister’s embarrassingly weak evaluation of “he was wrong in his statements being just too personal.”

Really, he was wrong because the comments were too personal? Come on………….

Knowing Kelvin’s supporters will come after me and yet again criticise me for not being Maori enough to comment, I might soften the blows a bit when I mention that my great grandfather and Kelvin’s great grandfather were brothers.

It seems in New Zealand we are not championing the aspirational words of Martin Luther King in that we are not seeking to have our children valued on the content of their character but rather judged on the subjective measure assigned by Kelvin Davis.

But, to Karen Chhour, you are the representative New Zealanders need if we are serious about achieving better outcomes. You have my whole-hearted support.

After receiving the apology, Karen replied with dignity that she hoped that there is a “pathway to move forward and have constructive debates in the future”. These words make Karen more qualified than Kelvin to be a representative of the people of New Zealand.

Don’t let them divide us.

Casey Costello is a trustee of Hobson’s Pledge

5,269 views76 comments


Ray McKendry
Ray McKendry
Oct 27, 2022

Having dashed through the above I have the greatest respect for the writer because whatever we are we are not a particular race. Thank you, Casey. Race is not the essence of ourselves as persons. What we are is human beings, all made like each other and even related as the writer said she is to Kelvin, we are in some way related to each other. (Further discussion on that for another time, perhaps.)

We are humans and we are defined by our character and not by race or colour. When I lived in Africa I noticed that some of the indigenous people had whites living among them who were of the same race as they were but albinos. Colour…


There have been some comments on this site that there is NO opposition and ACT are ONLY A ONE MAN BAND. Well maybe there will be some who may be reconsidering their views on ACT. Well done Karen, and you conducted yourself with impressive dignity.

Ardern displayed to all NZ she is a weak spineless PM (NOT Leader as she only got there by default, - Winston Peters) as she did nothing about the Mallard Bully, nothing on the Bullying Labour Whips, and nothing for Kelvin, and nothing for the laughing List MP with no mandate sitting behind him, Willie Wonka Jackson.

Their arrogance and self entitlement is amazing, and lying is their specialty, as after 5 years in Power…


Oct 02, 2022

Congratulations to Casey and Karen.

Go for the throats of those that spout forth this racist diatribe. They do not care about their own race. Only to split this once united country for their own embellishments. Very little of the huge payouts from the TOW compensation monies rarely drops down any further than the top floor of the tribal organisations. Very little if any to the ones that really financial help.

A lot of my Maori friends have never seen a cent of TOW monies and know of very few others where any money has been received.

One day there will be a change. This is just the start. I wish Karen and Casey all the best with their efforts


Peter Y
Peter Y
Oct 02, 2022

Thank you Casey for calling it out and for the very compelling and moving commentary.

In more recent years there has been much said of te ao Maori and how looking at something through a ‘Maori lens’ is something special as in referencing it somehow takes on an element of deep reverence, that only those who have the right whakapapa or familial and tribal connections can appreciate it, no matter that those often claiming it are genetically of a greater Pakeha than Maori make-up. Well, if Kelvin Davis’ outburst is anything to go by, we as a Nation should deride and distance ourselves from this 'Maori world view' nonsense, as surely espousing anything that is derogatory of others from…


Casey, Thank you so much for this. It is my belief that Kelvin was speaking for the man seated behind him. You know, the one sniggering, looking around at his fellow caucus members to see if they were enjoying it as much as him. We must keep exposing these Maori elite for the scumbags they are. This is not the New Zealand we all strive for.

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