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latest news in employment law

Sovereign woman opts out of paying tax

Published 17 Apr 2023

An unrepresented employee of Te Wananga o Aotearoa - a tertiary education provider, laid claim in the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) to have her employer stop deducting PAYE tax and ACC levies from her wages, and pay her invoices for previous deductions. Needless to say the ERA member politely declined.

On the basis she self-declared as a "native sovereign living woman, practitioner of Customary Law" it appears she deemed herself exempt from employer deductions namely; PAYE, ACC and union fees and asked the employer to stop the deductions in July 2021. While the employer was happy to cease the union fees, they would have pointed out that the other requests were actually mandatory under law.

This prompted the sovereign woman to raise invoices to the organisation for the amounts deducted and the issuing of a cease & desist notice.
Upon non-payment she appears to have sought enforcement from the ERA in her favour. This however was not forth coming.

In a rather short determination the ERA succinctly found "the high threshold that it is a frivolous claim is met", declined the applicant and the parties were encouraged to resolve the issue of costs amongst themselves.

"Sovereign" citizens appear to identify with a global movement of people who prefer to select or opt out of which laws apply to them personally and generally have an anti-Government stance. Since the advent of COVID-19 it appears to have gained more traction with sympathisers world wide. (

It was unclear if the sovereign woman remains an employee of the organisation.