A complaint has been laid with the Advertising Standards Authority over ads for so-called Hindu witch doctors in local Indian media, following uproar among the Indian community about their practices.
Earlier this month community leaders in Auckland held a meeting in which they called for an investigation into how the witch doctors have been able to live and work in New Zealand, and condemned local Indian media for advertising their services.
It came after fears were raised of so-called witch doctors, healers and astrologers in South Auckland who have charged thousands of dollars in return for promised financial fortunes and love-life successes that don't eventuate.
Thakur Ranjit Singh, who railed against local Indian media at the meeting, has now laid a formal complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over ads placed in the Indian Newslink, Manukau Courier and Apna TV.
The media companies were not immediately available for comment.
Mr Singh said in his blog that the Indian Newslink newspaper had given "much 'oxygen' to this blaze of deceit, fraud and social irresponsibility".
The complaint was lodged on behalf of Indian Media Watch New Zealand, which Mr Singh set up in the wake of the witch doctor furore.
Indian Newslink, its publisher and editor, had "violated the basic principles of the advertising code of ethics", Mr Singh said.
He cited points three and four of the code, which say no advert "should be misleading or deceptive, or likely to mislead or deceive", and all adverts "should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility".
Mr Singh also cited other aspects of the code, which state adverts should not use exaggerated claims to mislead or deceive the public, or abuse the trust or exploit the consumer's lack of knowledge or experience about a topic.
He posted photographs of advertisements which were published in Indian Newslink, saying one published in July "gravely violates" advertising standards.
"[This] advertisement guarantees 100 per cent lifelong protection. Such guarantee is unrealistic, bizarre and outrageous, and is a calculated attempted to trap and rob simple, gullible and unsuspecting clients," he said.
"[This] advertisement also claims to provide a solution to Lucky Lotto.... The great irony is that if they [witch doctors] could do it then there was not a need for them to engage in this dubious profession, robbing innocent people. Indeed, if the astrologers had perfected this art, the game of Lotto as a concept would have failed."
He described the claims as "ludicrous".
Many of the advertisements also used "deceitful 'catchy' religious names" taken from Hindu deities, Mr Singh said.
"Such catchy and confidence-seeking names of Hindu deities mislead, lure and fool the customers in the name of religion."
Mr Singh called on the ASA to advise Indian media in New Zealand to stop running such adverts, and to organise training sessions for ethnic media.
Mr Singh is among a number of Indian community leaders who've spoken out about the witch doctors operating in south Auckland, and who've set up the Guru Busters initiative to put an end to the practice.
Indian Newslink, the Manukau Courier and Apna TV are being sought for comment.
Venkat Raman, editor and general manager for Indian Newslink, said he had not been sent the complaint for the ASA.
"I am therefore not sure if it would be proper for me to respond to your query at this stage," he said.