Controversial tour welcomed by Invercargill mayor

Following a wave of protests and venue cancellations around the country, Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark welcomed a controversial tour to the city at the weekend.

About 60 people attended Julian Batchelor’s Stop Co-Governance meeting at the Ascot Park Raceway on Saturday, which was set to be held at the Invercargill Workingmen’s Club until public feedback encouraged the club to cancel the booking.

Referring to Mr Batchelor as his colleague, Mr Clark suggested critics of Mr Batchelor did not like his message because he was "white, male, probably a right-wing Christian, and I think he’s got a few dollars as well".

He also said he was "a bit embarrassed" the meeting was unable to book a "suitable venue" in Invercargill.

Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark (left) was a guest speaker at Julian Batchelor’s Stop Co...
Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark (left) was a guest speaker at Julian Batchelor’s Stop Co-governance tour in Invercargill on Saturday. PHOTO: BEN TOMSETT

Mr Clark delivered a 15-minute speech, reiterating several controversial talking points including those he had stated earlier this month at a New Zealand Taxpayers Union "Hands Off Our Homes".

His criticism included the Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF), Three Waters, "cancel culture", council mana whenua representatives, and "the bastardisation of the English language".

"I don’t believe that we should mix te reo and English together. There is a place for both. I don’t have any problems with that, I’m a strong supporter of people learning te reo ... and I’m very much in favour.

"I’m very much in favour of bilingual names [for buildings], but not one at expense of the other. Where we’re heading at the moment is a slope in that respect."

He said he was opposed to mana whenua representatives on council "right from day one," but that he was in the minority of that opinion on council.

"Democratically I don’t think that’s the right thing to do, and I wonder, why wouldn’t they want a Māori ward? Well, I know the answer to that but I think they’ve got their eyes set on a higher level of input. They have a vision of being 50/50."

Mr Batchelor said mana whenua representatives actually had a vision of 100/100 through the power of veto, which Mr Clark did not disagree with.

Throughout the meeting, Mr Batchelor made numerous claims about Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and claimed events such as Matariki, and the use of Māori words on road signs and in legislation were "brainwashing", "propaganda" and "grooming the country for tribal takeover".

He was not challenged on these claims for the duration of the three-hour meeting, although he had three vocal detractors during a public forum, with one questioning his audience’s "passive acceptance".

Mr Batchelor also said while he called for peace, he had been told some of his supporters had purchased guns.

"I’m not advocating civil war, but I’m saying you have to change your attitude because we can’t be just nice little Kiwis anymore. You have to say ‘I’m on the war path,’ and we’re going to stop this."

Cr Barry Stewart was also in attendance.