Māori were prominently associated with crime in a large representative sample of newspaper NZ items. Māori were frequently labelled as possible or actual perpetrators of crime on superficial judgements, often by victims. This practice associates Māori with all accounts of crime and embeds crime as a background for all other items about Māori. This embedding, the pervasive but unacknowledged Pākehā norm, and media positioning of Māori as a threat in non-crime stories are central to common sense themes about Māori-Pākehā relations. Focus group participants indicated that these themes support real-world marginalisation and discrimination against Māori.