Davidson amends Whittaker's post after PM's request

Maiki Sherman
Source: 1News

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson has amended a social media post after the Prime Minister referred it to the Cabinet office as it breached ministerial guidelines.

Marama Davidson and Jacinda Ardern.

Davidson recently posted a video outside Parliament holding five blocks of Whittaker’s creamy milk chocolate bars. The bars have been at the centre of public debate lately as they have been branded with the Māori translation for creamy milk, Miraka Kirīmi.

Jacinda Ardern told media while the post was clearly in support of the use of te reo Māori, there is an expectation in the Cabinet guidelines that ministers are expected to follow.

"We do have rules that are very clear around ensuring that you’re not seen to specifically endorse specific products," Ardern said.

"I have asked and will ask the Cabinet office to just make sure they’re in touch with the Minister to be really clear on how those rules apply."

Asked if Davidson should remove the post, the Prime Minister said yes.

"I think that would be the most advisable way forward just to be really clear and not to be seen to be promoting products."

Ministers are not allowed to endorse or promote any product or service, according to the Cabinet manual.

As Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence Minister, Davidson falls under those rules.

The Greens co-leader initially remained defiant and said she would not remove the post.

"No I will not, because I am promoting te reo Māori, I am promoting organisations who are stepping up particularly trusted and popular organisations," Davidson said.

Davidson said she was "pushing back against the racism".

"The racial element that I am responding to is the incredibly ignorant push back that was noticed by so many people, Māori and non-Māori."

But later on Tuesday evening, Davidson amended the post, removing any promotion of Whittaker's.

Ardern said the issue was now with the Cabinet office.

“You can see the intent here was the promotion of te reo Māori but we do have to make sure that we uphold a really clear standard on promoting products,” Ardern said.

In a statement to 1News, Whittaker's said the Miraka Kirīmi were not about making sales, but promoting te reo Māori.

"As a proudly New Zealand family-owned company that makes all of our world-class chocolate at our one factory in Porirua, we’re proud to celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week, 12-18 September) and are pleased with the wide support the block has received," Whittaker's said.