NZ: Māori online bashing on the rise, former police officer warns
Monday, June 24, 2013
AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch / Pacific Scoop): Online bashing of Māori is on the rise, says a researcher at AUT University.
Steve Elers, a former police investigator who is researching a doctorate in communication studies at AUT, stumbled across “offensive” online sites this month.
Elers says he was searching for information on Māori identity using internet search engine tools. There is a growing trend of online Māori bashing, he says.
He is investigating Māori identity in the context of social media and the internet.
“I hope this will prompt further discussion on racism in New Zealand that focuses on online content in terms of censorship or laws,” Elers says.
“While everyone has the right to freedom of speech, I think there is a line that has been crossed of what is acceptable and what isn't.”
He returned to New Zealand to live in 2012 after working for the Western Australian police for several years.
“From personal experience, I have to say I experienced less personal racism in Perth. The Aussies love Māori.”
Elers not only discovered negative content about Māori on social media and web forums but found hundreds of anonymous web postings on forums.
He says the Domain Name Commissioner should take action and deregister the offensive sites. Elers says the internet is as an amazing tool within a global society.
However, it is also being used for bullying and harassment where people are more likely to be brash and bold online because they have the ability to say whatever they want anonymously.
“Looking at it from another perspective, it actually demonstrates that racist attitudes do exist in New Zealand.
"Before, the only other opportunity that racists had to reach an audience anonymously was talkback radio. Now we have the internet.”
Among the "racist" domains cited by Elers are:
www.unemployed.maori.nz - defaulting to the NZ overnment department Work and Income
www.dolebludging.maori.nz - defaulting to the NZ overnment department Work and Income
www.kai.maori.nz - defaulting to Kentucky Fried Chicken
www.fat.maori.nz - defaulting to key words on Google
The New Zealand Māori Internet Society made a formal complaint about another domain name earlier this year.
"We are writing a letter to the owner's employer and sponsors expressing our disgust with a follow up to the Domain Name Commissioner who has neglected to address our original complaint," Māori and Pacific issues online advocate Karaitiana Tairua told Pacific Media Watch.
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