Racism is a lawful freedom of expressionpost has been updated
According to the Human Rights Commission [pdf], racism is a lawful freedom of expression under some circumstances, and Hone Harawira was within his rights to be racially offensive, because his comments were not insulting, abusive, or likely to bring contempt to any group.
This is despite quite a few people considering that Harawira's comments have brought contempt for a group called the Maori Party. Harawira implied that non-Maori have been raping the country and ripping Maori off for centuries, starting from colonisalism. Race Relations Commissioner Joris De Bres is known for comparing New Zealand's colonial history to cultural vandalism by the Taleban, for which the Human Rights Commission turned down complaints.Harawira's comments are no worse.
However, de Bres he thought the "cheeky darky" comments, earlier made about Kofi Annan by Paul Holmes were insulting and belittling. . He was very careful to say that the comments made by Hone Harawira were not insulting, abusive, or belittling - merely offensive. According to the Human Rights Commission guidelines, being offensive is not unlawful, When a public figure (such as a politician) or people in power that make comments that are racially offensive, there are other options, even though the statements may not be unlawful. These options do not extend to actions undertaken by the Human Rights Commission.
So it is fine to be offensive, but not insulting. It is within your freedom of expression to make offensive racist comments, and do so lawfully. Glad that's cleared up, then.
Dr Ranginui Walker on Breakfast this morning was adamant that Harawira's comments were not racist. But when asked if the same comments were to be directed at Maori, if that would be racist, he gave a big breath and said, "I'm not sure". Appalling.