Ron Jontof-Hutter
Ron Jontof-Hutter Courtesy

New Zealand, Australia’s South Pacific neighbour, is a nation boasting of magnificent fjords, snow-capped mountains and pristine forests. Its indigenous Maori people have inhabited the country for approximately 1000 years. In 1769, Captain James Cook mapped the islands, now known as New Zealand, which was followed by the arrival of explorers, missionaries and sailors. The 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, ensured Maoris were given rights in this new addition to the British Empire. This was followed by extensive British settlement over the remainder of the 19th century. 1907 was the peak year for new arrivals.

Some Nazi war criminals, escaping justice in Europe after WW2, settled in New Zealand. New Zealand now champions human rights, but has refused to open files on its Nazi fugitive immigrants. One fugitive Jonas Pukas, served as a machine gunner with the 12th Lithuanian Police Battalion which massacred tens of thousands of Jews. Pukas settled in Auckland in 1950 and reportedly smiled as he described Jews “screaming like geese” and how they “flew into the air as they were shot.”

Another immigrant was Willi Huber, who had served in the ruthless Waffen SS. Huber remarked in an interview with police detective Wayne Stringer, that Hitler was “very clever” and that he had no inkling of the massacre of Jews in Poland and Russia where he served, despite the Waffen SS being pivotal in the extermination of Jewish communities. Huber never expressed remorse and in fact was honoured by having a ski run, restaurant and commemorative plaque at Mt Hutt named after him.

New Zealand (NZ) does not invest in Holocaust education, is not a member of the IHRA and also has not adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism as other democracies have.

Canterbury University located in the city of Christchurch, accepted a Master’s thesis that concluded “the Nazis did not exterminate Jews in gas chambers or have extermination policies as such.”

While New Zealand voted for the 1947 UN Partition resolution that paved the way for Israel’s establishment, relations have not been smooth and indeed deteriorated over the years.

Unlike Australia, New Zealand does not designate Hamas/Hezbollah as terror organizations and declines to condemn terror attacks against Jews and Israelis. New Zealand does not have an embassy in Israel but does maintain embassies in Iran and Turkey, both of which support Islamic terrorist organizations.

The New Zealand Sovereign Wealth Fund divested from Israeli banks, hence making the government party to the BDS campaign.

Relations between Israel and New Zealand have also been cool because of New Zealand’s support of disproportionate UN resolutions against Israel. Notwithstanding its strong support for human rights, New Zealand tends to vote with totalitarian and Islamic regimes. Together with Senegal and Malaysia, New Zealand co-sponsored the anti- Israel UN Resolution 2334 which was particularly damaging to Israel.

Occasionally the anti-Israel animus becomes absurd. In 2011 an Israeli backpacker was killed in the Christchurch earthquake, leading to claims of him being a Mossad agent.

New Zealand is seeking a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the USA. Representatives and senators surely need to be aware of some the above issues before an FTA is signed.

Ron Jontof-Hutteris the author of the satire “The Trombone Man: Tales of a Misogynist” and the Kristallnacht Cantata: a Voice of Courage.”