Dear NZ Herald – a protest free newspaper is an abdication of responsibility



The desire to celebrate Waitangi Day is a deeply held one for those wanting a national day where we can feel good as New Zealanders, the problem is that the majority haven’t really held up their end of the Treaty and as such, Maori have lost the majority of their economic base and have received chump change as reparations.

The radical imbalance between the promise of the Treaty and the reality is so wide that Maori feel an obligation to righteously protest every year. For those whose with invisible privilege who can not see beyond their own berm, protesting raises ugly questions no one wants to try and answer on a day when everyone is desperately trying to celebrate.

Hence the NZ Herald’s Waitangi Day banner headline ‘Protest Free’. The desire to focus on the positive and ignore the ugly is an understandable feeling, but seeing as it was a combination of over eager media and the Prime Minister’s desire to comment about a scuffle that never happened that started colouring perceptions this year, perhaps the Herald could have considered just not printing an edition if their goal was to restrict those voices serving only to cause disruption, because this time around it seemed only the media and the PM were hell bent on doing that.

Let’s be generous to the NZ Herald and suggest that it was a play to our better angels that saw this misguided editorial decision. Far less charitable readings could suggest that a ‘Politics Free’ edition in fact ends up siding with the status quo and robs the public square of a fundamentally important part of the debate and that in itself plays into the darker ends of corporate owned media.

I would like to think the Herald were trying to be positive rather than Machiavellian, but even if we give them that benefit of the doubt, the decision to be ‘protest free’ is a terrible editorial direction.

The NZ Herald – love it or hate it, is essentially our largest daily newspaper, and if they decide to remove the politics and protest from Waitangi Day then they are effectively abdicating their responsibility as the Fourth Estate. Their feel good gesture ends up being censorship and it matters because they have so much influence in the media landscape.

Let’s hope that such a silly editorial direction which sees the NZ Herald walk away from its journalistic obligations is not repeated next year. 

TDB Recommends

If NZers want to celebrate Waitangi Day, let’s live up to its promise so that all New Zealanders have something to celebrate, not just those who benefited from mass land confiscations.


Image h/t – Joe Carolan


  1. I wonder what might have happened had the government issued an edict, banning all news surrounding Waitangi Day protests?

    The Herald would be leading the charge for the media’s obligation to publish the news, with fear or FAVOUR…

    Self-censorship when it comes to newss is not a pretty sight.

    Which begs the question – what else is the Herald self-censoring because the news is not sufficiently positive ?

  2. Except that “Protest Free”, is itself, a protest about protest so contradicts itself.More accurate would be “Free of protest we don’t agree with”.
    I very much doubt granny herald was trying to be ironic.

  3. I wonder if it’s a case of hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Let’s treat all it’s readers as children and keep them nice, happy and safe. Because if we were told the truth, we probably couldn’t handle it. At least the newspaper knows what’s best for us the public. I think I’ll go back and eat my lollypop and put my rose-tinted shades on.

  4. The Press Council should be alerted to this editorial position and the publishing of the logo.

    Al Jazeera has picked it up do you think NZ Press and watchdogs might just fail to notice the NZ Heralds behavior?

    We are all in for trouble if a major newspaper can get away with this unsanctioned with freedom of speech and effective balanced journalism being seriously eroded.

    Worst of all the “professionals” appear to be doing this themselves and their own profession.

    It is so absurd it does beg the question are they being bribed or bullied at NZH? Can they really be that unethical or thick?

  5. Is this a turning point of the Herald acknowledging a possible shift of power? Crap press to neutral coverage? Maybe… Not.

  6. The ‘White Fist’ is also known as the ‘Aryan Fist’ and it is a hate symbol used by white supremacist groups around the world.
    Even if it is a ‘misguided editorial decision’, it’s the sort of decision that should end a career.
    Or is this just a front page aimed at their readership? I wouldn’t wipe my arse with that filthy rag.

  7. how about a campaign to take the Herald to the Broadcasting Standards Authority (or whatever they are called). I know its likely to result in a wet bus ticket, but at least it will highlight the issue a little.

    I note that the Herald has already just credited Key with ensuring that Kiwis who have been living sometime in Oz get student loans for their children, when this was already a policy agreed to last year by the Australian Government.

    Maybe its time the every time we see bias we complain

  8. The NZ herald is the propaganga newspaper for the National Party all articles are screened by John Keys minders and spin doctors.

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