A local petition to ''return democracy'' to New Zealanders who don't identify as Māori has been slammed as ''racist''.
More than 2500 people have signed the petition ''to return democracy'' to the ''85 per cent'' of New Zealanders who do not identify as Māori following recent government initiatives such as Māori Wards or the Māori Health Authority.
NZME understands the petition has been mailed throughout the Bay of Plenty, including Rotorua, and is available online.
But National Māori Authority chair Matthew Tukaki and Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon have severely criticised the petition - with Tukaki describing it as "pointed racism at its worst" and Foon saying it is "unhelpful and concerning".
Former Western Bay of Plenty District councillor Christina Humphreys has confirmed she is behind the petition.
Humphreys told the Bay of Plenty Times she created the petition because from her perspective many people in the community felt the Labour Government was trying to "go over the heads" of 85 per cent of New Zealanders.
The petition states non-Māori were "rapidly being brushed aside from their rights as citizens in their own country which is sliding into a state of apartheid".
"The same concerns apply to any proposed race-based Constitution? All this nonsense totally flies in the face of the third article of the Treaty of Waitangi - namely that all the peoples of New Zealand will have the same equal rights and privileges as British subjects," the petition continued.
Speaking to the Bay of Plenty Times, Humphreys listed Māori Wards, the Māori Health Authority, three waters and New Zealand history due to be taught in schools as examples of government initiatives she believed did not honour democracy.
In Humphreys' view, ideas referenced in the He Puapua report such as the Māori Health Authority, were giving Māori privilege over the other "85 per cent" of New Zealanders.
"Now we're going to hand over everything to Māori, they're going to rule the country virtually - they want co-governance to start with - all our water and everything is being handed over with no right of reply.
"There should be referendums that should go out to inquire."
The government and its agencies have evolved in recent years, changing names to incorporate a Māori definition honouring the Treaty, or as the Government puts it - working in partnership.
"It's not the majority making the decision, people aren't being consulted on these things anymore and I know because I was a councillor and I resigned in the end," Humphreys said.
Compulsory New Zealand history lessons will be taught in schools across the country next year but Humphreys believed history was being rewritten - or sanitised - so "you young ones wouldn't know what time of day it is".
"I don't particularly care anymore, because a lot of us might as well leave the country because our businesses will be buggered and everything stuffed.
"It's factual. It's not racism. Well, you could call it racism. But that's what the Government is, they're racist."
Humphreys believed there would be "bloodshed in this country before much longer" due to the Government's decisions.
Foon said he welcomed constructive discussion on all these issues but, in his view, the particular rhetoric from Humphreys was "unhelpful and concerning".
"I believe that most New Zealanders have some understanding that fairness and justice require properly addressing past injustices, and upholding our human rights and Tiriti [Treaty] obligations."
Foon believed if more New Zealanders took time to learn the country's history, the views found in the petition would find less traction in the future.
"I think they will also better understand that there's no need to fear us living up to those promises, Māori rights being upheld, or from enabling Māori control over Māori lives."
Foon said to address inequalities and to respect Te Tiriti o Waitangi promises, substantial systems change was needed - and this was something he believed all should come to terms with.
"Unfortunately, systems change gives rise to the escalation of racist rhetoric.
"Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and live without fear of violence and racism.
"I have not seen any detrimental action from Māori that have deprived any New Zealander - in fact, it is quite the opposite."
Tukaki, of Ngāi Te Rangi, said the statements made by Humphreys were in his opinion "absolutely stupid", "seditious behaviour", and "ridiculous lies".
He also said he believed Humphreys' comments were blatant fearmongering, based on lies, and she was blind to the fact co-governance was a historical Treaty element.
"It's not about who owns what ... obviously what has been going on without our involvement hasn't been working. So in the interests of all of us, we need a new approach.
"This woman does not speak for 85 per cent of the New Zealand population and in fact, a vast majority of New Zealanders oppose the views being propositioned by this person."
In reference to the term "bloodshed", Tukaki said, in his view, it was an absolute disgrace.
In Tukaki's opinion: "She is propositioning an armed conflict in this country ... it is seditious behaviour to suggest that this country is moving to an armed conflict. And quite frankly, if she doesn't want to live here, then off you go."
He believed that "none of this is factual, and it is racism because they are attacking a single ethnic race - Māori".
"That is pointed racism at its worst," he said, expressing his view.
In response, Humphreys said both Foon and Tukaki had a right to freedom of speech.
"'Freedom of speech' if that's what they believe. Many don't have that freedom anymore.
"Our petition is based on facts, obviously with the many signed democracy petitions received people consider our wording to be correct."
In her view: "These negative people must believe that a socialist apartheid New Zealand is the way to go and they don't believe in democracy."