Why the Atlas Network will win the Anti-Treaty referendum

Why the Atlas Network will win the Anti-Treaty referendum

Upon detailed examination, it seems a referendum aimed at dismantling the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi is likely to progress beyond the select committee stage. It will then be put to a vote among a largely uninformed public, who are expected to vote against it. This mirrors the ‘no’ vote campaign against the voice in Australia, which was supported by influential think tanks and lobbying groups.

The Atlas Network, a neoliberal global alliance of think tanks, was founded in 1981 by British businessman Antony Fisher. This umbrella organization coordinates 515 ‘public policy research institutes across 99 countries. The Atlas Network, primarily funded by fossil fuel companies including Shell, BP, Rio Tinto, and Exxon, offers more than just financial support. Membership in the Atlas Network provides access to a suite of well-funded marketing tools, including social media marketing, calligraphy, web design, social media graphics, political lobbying, and more.

Armed with the resources of the Atlas Network, the anti-treaty campaign is poised to completely outmatch their opponents in terms of manpower and resources. They are likely to successfully push the anti-treaty bill from the select committee stage to a ‘no’ vote in a public referendum, aided by a potent disinformation campaign.

In New Zealand, three organisations represent the Atlas Network: the New Zealand Initiative, Hobsons Pledge, and the Taxpayer’s Union. These organizations are staunchly against indigenous rights for Māori. Hobson’s Pledge Trust, led by Don Brash and Casey Castello, is often labeled as an anti-Māori hate group and has been likened to the White New Zealand League. It is no mistake Casey Costello jumped to 3rd on the NZ First list to become the associate minister of Police.

Opposing the Atlas Network means facing off against hundreds of think tanks and lobbying groups worldwide that have substantial resources and work on individual projects as a network. The level of coordination is extraordinary, with thousands of analysts orchestrating social media campaigns, designing memes and press releases, and running a well-coordinated campaign.

As seen in the ‘No’ campaign in the voice for Australia to include First Nation people in the Australian Constitution, the Atlas Network overwhelmed its opponents with extensive resources and manpower from around the world. The ‘yes’ campaign simply lacked the resources to win the referendum.

The anti-treaty campaign will rally New Zealanders of Māori descent, like Casey Costello and David Rankin, who personally oppose indigenous rights and embrace a pro-colonial ideology. They will use terms like apartheid, separatism, and race-based privilege to convince the general public that Māori themselves do not want the Treaty of Waitangi honored.

This campaign will be spearheaded with an interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi by colonisation apologist the late Sir Apirana Ngata, a former National Party member of Parliament. The message will be unequivocal: Māori did surrender sovereignty, and it is they who are dishonouring the Treaty, not the colonial government.

The Anti-Treaty lobbyists often refer to the illegitimate “Littlewood Paper” which is a set of notes of the genuine Te Tiriti O Waitangi a back translation but has been put on a pedestal by the Anti-Treatyist movement.

Upon examining the successful “Stop 3 Waters” campaign that significantly impacted the Labour government, it’s clear that the Taxpayers Union and Hobson’s Pledge Trust, both entities of the Atlas Network, orchestrated a professional marketing campaign. This campaign, which spanned social media, billboards, and a nationwide roadshow, was backed by millions in funding. Despite the perception that this was a grassroots campaign spearheaded by ordinary New Zealanders, it was, in reality, led by an international think tank.

Will there be a call to action for New Zealanders who believe in our founding national document, Te Tiriti O Waitangi, and oppose any referendum defining the Treaty against the aspirations of Māori, will they build robust networks to counter the Atlas Network? This involves forming think tanks and lobbying groups in coordination with the three main opposition parties.