Janet Dickson


A real estate agent faces a five-year suspension for refusing to complete a mandatory short course on Māori culture and tikanga. Janet Dickson criticized the course as “woke madness” on Facebook and vowed to defend her rights to prevent similar incidents for others.

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She argues that mandating training on a subject tangential to their profession, under threat of losing their job, is unjust. To challenge this, she seeks a judicial review of the Real Estate Authority’s authority to enforce cultural training for realtors. Assisted by a lawyer, Dickson garners support from the lobby group Hobson’s Pledge, led by former National Party leader Don Brash.

A Facebook post made by Hobson's Pledge appealing for donations to help fund Dickson's legal fight. A Facebook post made by Hobson’s Pledge appealing for donations to help fund Dickson’s legal fight.

Hobson’s Pledge appeals for donations to fund Dickson’s legal battle, emphasizing the importance of defending professional autonomy and democratic freedoms.

The disputed course, “Te Kākano (The Seed),” aims to deepen understanding of Māori culture and history, specifically regarding land. While initially mandatory, it has transitioned to an elective for 2024.

Real estate agents must complete annual compulsory training alongside elective courses to maintain their licenses. Dickson’s employer, Harcourt’s International, supports the mandatory training, acknowledging the value of continuous learning.

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Critics, including Brash, deem the penalty draconian, arguing against imposing irrelevant courses. They perceive it as an imposition of a particular worldview.

While some lament resistance to understanding New Zealand’s history, others stress the importance of cultural awareness, particularly in land-related professions.

The University of Auckland’s Bernie O’Donnell underscores the significance of realtors comprehending Māori cultural values given their role in land transactions.

Questions regarding the course’s relevance are directed to the Real Estate Authority. Belinda Moffat, its CEO, refrains from commenting due to potential legal proceedings.

Dickson’s legal team from Franks Ogilvie intends to challenge the REA’s education rules, citing violations of freedom of expression and questioning the authority’s scope. They anticipate the judicial review to have broader implications for licensed real estate agents.