That’s a question that arises following Auckland Mayor Phil Goff’s action to not allow speakers who upset the notions of the Political Correctness Brigade to use council owned venues; and the cancelling of the speaking event with Don Brash by the Massey University Vice Chancellor.

The short answer is yes, sort of.

The statement appears in section 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990:

Freedom of expression

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.

There is qualification to that, however, specifically in Section 4 of the Summary Offences Act which deals with “Offensive behaviour or language”:

Subsection 1:

Every person is liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000 who,—

(a) in or within view of any public place, behaves in an offensive or disorderly manner; or
(b) in any public place, addresses any words to any person intending to threaten, alarm, insult, or offend that person; or
(c) in or within hearing of a public place,—

(i) uses any threatening or insulting words and is reckless whether any person is alarmed or insulted by those words; or
(ii) addresses any indecent or obscene words to any person.

Does (b) cover hate speech? Most people will have seen signs wielded by Muslims in demonstrations like those in this picture taken in London:

Muslim placards

Probably not, as they are general threats of violence rather than specific threats against identified individuals.

However, that consideration didn’t stop the Kapiti police showing up to harrass Dale Evans and Kerry Bolton last year — on Dougherty’s demands — following their little street theatre protest in April about the KCDC’s over the top Political Correctness culture — see the letter reproduced in this post last year.

We gather Dougherty’s legal advice was that the action he could take against Dale Evans for expressing his views about the council was limited to a Tresspass Notice, which he duly issued.

Nevertheless, the existence of the words “offend or insult any person” in the Section quoted above is disconcerting. We would like to think that this type of Police State harassment against those who partake in peaceful protest against the KCDC (or any other government body or its bosses) won’t occur again.