An Auckland Transport poster accused of bringing the year the Treaty of Waitangi was signed into "disrepute" has been discontinued.

The poster campaign launched this year reinforced there was no excuse for not having a ticket or tagged-on hop card, and included messages like "yeah right" or "aliens stole my ticket".

One poster used the caption, "I'm time-travelling, my ticket is back in 1840'".

A member of the public raised concerns about the poster with the Independent Maori Statutory Board (IMSB), and chief executive Brandi Hudson sought an explanation from AT.

In a meeting this week, the IMSB said it considered AT was "bringing the year the Treaty [of Waitangi] was signed into disrepute and possibly perceived as questioning the legitimacy of settlements".

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"We requested an explanation and suggested these posters be taken down."

This Auckland Transport poster, designed by advertising agency Federation, prompted a complaint from the Independent Maori Statutory Board. Photo / Supplied
This Auckland Transport poster, designed by advertising agency Federation, prompted a complaint from the Independent Maori Statutory Board. Photo / Supplied

The response from AT said 1840 was not referring to the year of the Treaty of Waitangi, but instead the year time standardisation was introduced on the train system in England, but it later agreed to not use the signs again.

"This raises questions about AT's sign off process for such material, which we will continue to monitor," the IMSB said.

AT chief executive Shane Ellison said the advertising agency it used, Federation, chose 1840 because railway time was standardised in England in November 1840.

"There is nothing at all sinister in this. They had to pick a year – any year - for use in this headline. They ended up settling on one that related to railway travel."

There was no other reason 1840 was chosen, and any connection to the Treaty of Waitangi was entirely "unintentional", Ellison said.

"AT had no intention of offending anyone and our commitment to te ao Māori is demonstrated through the considerable efforts we are making to work with our iwi and mataawaka in Auckland consulting on new projects, social procurement, and promoting the use of te reo."

When the IMSB contacted AT in August, the main part of the campaign - which included four other posters - had ended, Ellison said

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While AT could repeat the campaign in the future to remind customers about the $150 infringement fee for fare evasion, AT had decided not to use the poster referencing 1840, he said.

A spokesman for the IMSB said they were happy with the outcome.

In June, AT introduced te reo in the main safety announcements and at the beginning and mid-point of the journey on all train services.

The next stage of its te reo on public transport programme would include further messages in te reo throughout the journey.