Wellington Scoop

Massey cancels booking for talk by Don Brash – security risk

News from Massey University
Massey University has cancelled a booking made by a students’ politics club at which former politician and Hobson’s Pledge founder Dr Don Brash was invited to speak at the University’s Manawatū campus on Wednesday.

Club members had signed a venue and space use agreement form in which they agreed to manage the venue in accordance with the University’s Strategy, including recognising the values of a Te Tiriti o Waitangi-led organisation and ensuring its use would not adversely affect University operations, security, reputation or public safety.

The members later approached University management concerned about their ability to meet the agreement’s terms around security after becoming aware of social media posts suggesting the event could lead to violence.

The University considered providing additional security for the event, but decided the risk of harm to students, staff and members of the public was too great, particularly at time of heightened tension over the issues around free speech and hate speech. Dr Brash was also a supporter of right-wing Canadian speakers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, who were due to address a public meeting in Auckland.

He had been invited by the students in his capacity as a former National Party leader to discuss the party as part of a series of talks involving current leader Simon Bridges and an MP considered a potential future leader, Chris Bishop.

Professor Thomas says she supports free speech on campus, but totally opposes hate speech. “Mr Brash’s leadership of Hobson’s Pledge and views he and its supporters espoused in relation to Māori wards on councils was clearly of concern to many staff, particularly Māori staff. Whether those views would have been repeated to students in the context of a discussion about the National Party may seem unlikely, but I have no way of knowing. In my opinion the views expressed by members of Hobson’s Pledge come dangerously close to hate speech. They are certainly not conducive with the University’ strategy of recognising the values of a Tiriti o Waitangi-led organisation.”

“It is clear there is heightened sensitivity and passion at this time, following the protests both against and in support of Ms Southern and Mr Molyneux’s right to be heard. Our ultimate responsibility is for the safety and wellbeing of students, staff and members of the public on our campuses and under those circumstances cancelling the booking is the right thing to do. The members of the Politics Club have acted responsibly in raising their concerns with the University and are free to meet Dr Brash at another venue if they wish.”


  1. Citizen Joe, 7. August 2018, 18:27

    Another nail in the coffin of free speech and hammered in at a ‘University’ of all places.

  2. TrevorH, 8. August 2018, 7:25

    @Citizen Joe: I agree completely. It seems Dr Brash was banned because the Vice Chancellor didn’t like what he might say. She should get another job.

  3. Ross Clark, 8. August 2018, 7:39

    “Liberty is the right to be told, things you don’t want to hear” – George Orwell.

  4. Lizzie Marvelly, 8. August 2018, 10:20

    To my mind, the issue is not Brash’s right to speak (and let’s not forget that Massey is within its rights to extend or rescind invitations to speak, whether we agree with its decisions or not) but whether he actually has anything meaningful to add anymore. Heard it all before. [via twitter]

  5. Tea Roa, 8. August 2018, 10:21

    Perhaps, ask those who threaten violence why? They are more of a concern to society. Anyone can logically challenge belief and culture. Let’s not forget, the spirits of the land and oceans are not racist. People are people, whales are whales and we are all visitors on this rock of a planet. Bigger issues on the fate of our species exist, even muppets somehow managed to all get along and put on a show despite looking a bit different.

  6. Farmer John, 8. August 2018, 10:43

    Tea Roa – well said – but the problem is the ever increasing number of rapacious humans on this third rock from the sun. A maximum of 2 babies per woman from now on please – think globally when you are embracing it locally!

  7. Joseph Romanos, 8. August 2018, 10:51

    I’m no Don Brash fan, especially concerning his views on race relations. However, for Massey Uni to ban him from speaking at its Manawatu campus is absurd. Is that what NZ is coming to? People can surely have different opinions. Jacinda Adern is right – it’s “an over-reaction”. [via twitter]

  8. Trevor H, 8. August 2018, 18:54

    @Joseph Romanos. Jacinda Ardern is part of the problem. Her support to those who shut down the Canadians emboldened them.