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White supremacists still active in NZ

Newsroom logo Newsroom 10/08/2019 Marc Daalder
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WARNING: The following story may be distressing to some readers.

A fresh New Zealand white supremacist group is recruiting members on internet forums like 4chan, Marc Daalder reports.

After the Christchurch terror attack, active far-right organisations like the National Front and the Dominion Movement publicly shut up shop. Now, a new white supremacist group calling itself Action Zealandia (AZ) has begun recruiting members and "taking action".

The group appears to have formed in recent weeks. On July 31, a person claiming to be an Action Zealandia member posted on the 4chan message board's far-right political forum, seeking to recruit new members.

The recruiter responded to an American user warning them to keep Jews out of the group by reassuring the forum that AZ would never be bought with "Jewish money".

A second user claiming to be a member of AZ said they expected the movement would grow rapidly. They also agreed that open anti-Semitism and racism was a bad look, saying that the group needed to maintain "good optics" for recruiting purposes.

University of Waikato Professor Al Gillespie says that this makes them more dangerous. "It's kind of like a lot of stuff Donald Trump does. It's clearly not illegal and it's not direct, confrontational hatred, but it dances around something which can lead to it," he said.

A third 4chan user and supposed AZ member was even more radical, telling a mixed-race user that they wouldn't be able to join the group. Instead, this AZ member recommended they recruit the user's white cousins.

Indeed, the movement states on its website that women, non-white people, and disabled people are not permitted to join. Its ideology, says Gillespie, mixes far-right nationalism with left-wing environmentalism.

"They want to be made martyrs. [Censoring them] fulfills every kind of paranoid dream that they already have."

In a post about the organisation's recent activities, photos (with faces blurred out) show members picking up trash, tramping, working out, and posing in front of the tomb of Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage in Bastion Point.

AZ's environmentalism is rooted in part in a belief that New Zealand's land belongs to white people. They stake this claim by positing a pseudo-historical theory that white people settled the country before the arrival of Māori.

In The Penguin History of New Zealand, historian Michael King rebuffs such conspiracy theories. "Despite a plethora of amateur theories about Melanesian, South American, Egyptian, Phoenician and Celtic colonisation of New Zealand, there is not a shred of evidence that the first human settlers were anything other than Polynesian," King wrote.

It is unclear how many members the organisation may have. At least six people are shown in photos on the slick website, which also bears some representation to that of the Dominion Movement. Dominion plastered stickers echoing classic fascist themes around Wellington and Feilding before shutting down after the Christchurch attack. However, the 4chan recruiter said the two groups were not related.

The group registered its website through the Instra Corporation, an international domain registrar, on May 23. Instra did not respond to a request for comment.

Gillespie said he didn't think the group should be shut down, but instead should be publicly debated and rebutted. "They want to be made martyrs. [Censoring them] fulfills every kind of paranoid dream that they already have," he said.

An Action Zealandia spokesperson declined to comment for this article, saying the seven hour deadline they were given to respond was "unrealistic and unprofessional".

"Good luck with your story. Hopefully it is far more interesting than your previous write-ups," the spokesperson wrote.

A police spokesperson said they could not comment on whether "specific individuals, groups or organisations are, or have been, under police investigation".

Readers seeking support and information about mental health: 

Lifeline's 24-hour telephone counseling service on 0800 543 354

Need to talk? 1737 – free call or text any time to talk to a trained counselor

Depression Helpline (8am to 12 midnight) - 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz

Healthline – 0800 611 116

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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