9 Aug 2014

NZ First accused of racism on housing

5:39 pm on 9 August 2014

New Zealand First has been challenged to get racism out of the debate on the housing market and farm sales.

Winston Peters.

New Zealand First's Winston Peters has said foreigners are pushing up the price of houses. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

This came during discussion between seven leaders of minor parties on TV3 on Saturday.

The Government came under fire from several leaders who rejected the Government's defence that only one to two percent of farmland has been sold to foreigners.

The Greens' Metiria Turei questioned the numbers but said in any case the sales should not be allowed.

New Zealand First's Winston Peters said foreigners were also pushing up the price of houses.

That led to this, from United Future's Peter Dunne: "We'd also stop what is a neo-racist debate about who is buying homes in Auckland. I think it demeans all those politicians who try and swirl around in that trough."

But Winston Peters rejected this. "When I see somebody from Beijing owning 55 houses in Auckland, I don't think it's neo-racist at all," he said. "I think it is treachery to sell out this country's interest, in Auckland in particular."

The debate went on to cover the economy, with ACT's Jamie Whyte supporting private initiatives to build wealth and solve problems, and Internet Mana's leader, Hone Harawira, and Te Ururoa Flavell of the Maori Party stressing that Maori were suffering social disadantage.