A complaint about a racist pamphlet that is derogatory toward Māori has been partly upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority, which says it must be removed from circulation.

The leaflet, titled One Treaty One Nation, was dropped in letterboxes in the Auckland suburb of Pt Chevalier in April. It called for the Waitangi Tribunal and Māori electorates and wards to be scrapped.

It claimed "the benefits of colonisation for Maoris, lifting them out of a violent Stone Age existence, far outweighed any negative consequences" and called for "an end to the stranglehold that one minority group has over the culture and life of a nation".

The pamphlet also said the "Maori people ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria in 1840".

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Pt Chev resident Emma Vere-Jones complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, saying the leaflet was racist and made misleading and false statements.

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Her complaint was partly upheld, with most of the board agreeing the reference to the supposed "benefits of colonisation" was likely to cause serious offence and thus breached the Advertising Standards Code.

The majority of the board said the statement was condescending and derogatory to Māori.
A minority disagreed, calling it an expression of political opinion.

References to one group having a "stranglehold" over the culture and life of a nation, and to the Māori people "[ceding] sovereignty to Queen Victoria" were found to be expressions of political opinion and did not reach the threshold to be considered offensive, the ASA said.

Overall the board found the leaflet breached the code because it was not socially responsible.

The pamphlet's creator, 1Law4All, had argued the pamphlet was not racist, and should not be considered advertising because it was not placed in the "media".

However, an updated version of the ASA's code says ads are any message controlled by an advertiser communicated with the intent to influence those to whom it is addressed.

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The board agreed under that definition the pamphlet was an advertisement.

In 2017 the same leaflet was distributed in Wellington. Newshub reported at the time it was published by John McLean, who wrote the book One Treaty, One Nation.

In its just-released decision the ASA required the advertisement to be withdrawn.

In April Emma Vere-Jones told the Herald she had struggled to find the right avenue for a complaint.

Justice Minister Andrew Little told the Herald he felt the pamphlet was racist and its author was "an ignorant fool".

He believed the matter was one for the Human Rights Commission but the commission said its governing act limited what it could do.

Little is overseeing a review of hate speech law.