Asia-Pacific

New Zealand 'Kiwimeter' survey called racist by Maori MPs

KiwiMeter: "New Zealand is not perfect but its values are superior to others" Image copyright One News

Maori MPs have said some of the questions in a survey by New Zealand's national broadcaster are "racist".

One question asks respondents to what extent they agree or disagree with the statement "Maori should not receive any special treatment".

Television New Zealand's (TVNZ) online "Kiwimeter" survey was launched by its One News channel on 3 March.

It described it as "the biggest survey of national identity ever undertaken in New Zealand."

The study looks at views on immigration, the environment, religion, poverty, gender and sport, among others; putting respondents in one of six groups of people with similar views.

Image copyright One News

Many of the questions, including the one about Maori "special treatment", have been criticised as not having been neutrally worded.

Labour MP Kelvin Davis, himself Maori, went further, describing the question as "out and out racism" that should be removed from the survey, reported Stuff.co.nz.

"I'd like to know what special treatment they're talking about," he said.

Describing it as "ham-fisted", Labour leader Andrew Little said "I just think they've got to acknowledge that it wasn't a well-constructed question."

But Prime Minister John Key has defended the survey, saying they were legitimate questions, though he said the answer to the question about "special treatment" should be "no".

It was just one of several questions criticised. Another read: "Most immigrants these days don't try hard enough to fit into New Zealand society".

Image copyright One News

New Zealand's Human Rights Commission said the survey "poses leading and biased questions about Maori New Zealanders," and described the question about "special treatment" as "a leading statement demonstrating a clear bias.

"Kiwimeter has decided Maori already receive 'special treatment' even though they do not explain what this actually means," said Karen Johansen, Indigenous Rights Commissioner.

But Vox Pop Labs, the Canadian company that created the survey with One News, defended it, insisting that the only way to get answers to those topics was to ask the questions they did.

And the apparently leading questions did not all go the same way. One asked whether a "history of discrimination" made it harder for Maori to succeed.

Image copyright One News

TVNZ's Head of News and Current Affairs John Gillespie said he would not apologise for the questions.

"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."

He also said he hopes Kiwimeter will spur a lively debate among New Zealanders about their identity.

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