Kiwi car owner rallies to ban offensive number plate

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Words: Matthew Hansen
3 May 2021

New Zealand’s sequential three letter and three number number plate format can sometimes generate interesting or even comedic plate number combinations. But some combinations get barred from being issued for being offensive or being too close to mimicking offensive words.

A Hawke’s Bay man is keen to add another three-digit sequence from the new series of ‘N’ plates to the banned list, after it appeared on a new car of his.

The man, former Green Party candidate James Crow, purchased a new car earlier this year to find that it featured an ‘NGR’ plate prefix — immediately prompting Crow to ask why the sequence was in circulation in the first place.

“We arrived at the AA Centre to receive it and as we drove in, and my wife saw it first and said ‘oh my, we can't have that on the front of our car’,” Crow told RNZ.

“If there have been many, many number plates that have been avoided being produced in the past with different three letter words or different three letter analogies, why did this one slip through?

“Because it felt like if it's going to really offend or hurt a few people in the public, it's not necessary.”

Speaking to RNZ, a Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency spokesperson acknowledged the potential offence of the sequence. It’s confirmed that those with an ‘NGR’ plate will be able to get a replacement free of charge. The spokesperson added that it’s considering removing the series from circulation entirely.

“While this three-letter combination was not withheld, Waka Kotahi recognises the offence the letter combination has caused, and we will arrange for replacement standard issue plates to be provided at no charge for any vehicle owners who do not wish to retain the plates,” said an NTZA spokesperson.

“We are also looking at the practicality of withdrawing the series from circulation. We are reviewing our processes to ensure that future number plate combinations are more thoroughly assessed before being manufactured and released.”

While a finite list of banned plate sequences does not exist, it’s known that at least three three-digit F-plate combinations were never issued due to them depicting or being similar to offensive terms.


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