29 Sep 2016

Lobby group formed to oppose 'Māori favouritism'

11:13 am on 29 September 2016

A lobby group has been launched to end what it calls 'Māori favouritism'.

Hobson's Pledge says its vision for New Zealand is a society in which all citizens are equal before the law.

An image from the Hobson's Pledge website. Photo: hobsonspledge.nz

The group, Hobson's Pledge, is fronted by former National Party leader Don Brash, and intends to pressure politicians into opposing race-based laws and preferential Māori seats in Parliament.

Dr Brash said for eight years the National-led government had been pandering to separatist demands.

He said everyone should be equal before the law.

"We've got a situation where those who have a Māori ancestor, and I say sometimes only one or two Māori ancestors out of many, are given some constitutional preference."

Don Brash

Don Brash is fronting the new Hobson's Pledge group. Photo: Supplied

"That is not helping most Māori and is engendering a great deal of ill will on the part of non-Māori."

Dr Brash said the group started after he was approached from a friend wanting to set up a political party to combat the trend.

"And I said look you're dreaming. Setting up a new political party doesn't work. They're very very hard to build."

"But instead we decided to form this Hobson's Pledge trust, named after chiefs [who] signed the treaty in 1840. Governor Hobson said in Māori 'we are now one people' and that's what we are advocating."

There were now more than 20 Māori MPs in Parliament and the Māori seats had outlived their usefulness, he said.

"It's patronising to suggest that Māori cannot put their own views in Parliament."

Broadcaster Willie Jackson told Morning Report the new group was "the sort of mad stuff that Don's been pushing for years".

"These types of things shouldn't even be talked about on national radio today - this is so out-of-date it's not funny."

Parliament and local councils should have Māori seats, Mr Jackson said.

"Māori have been shut of councils for years and years and years - they've had white councils everywhere."

There was still systemic inequality in New Zealand, he said.

"Every report and survey that's been put forward says that Māori have been treated differently.

"In the last few months we've seen reports ... that Māori, sadly, don't get a fair shot from police or when they go to court."

Labour Party leader Andrew Little said the campaign was racist. "This is really fringe stuff. This only works as an idea if you're prepared to overlook the first 100 years of New Zealand's history, ignored the fact that there were land confiscations, that there were unlawful detentions of Māori people, that there was discrimination and racism against Māori people in the early part of our history."

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei

Metiria Turei said it was an old campaign that had failed in the old days. Photo: RNZ / Elliot Childs

"I think it will be treated, by and large, by most people, with the contempt that it deserves," Mr Little said.

Dr Brash denied the group was racist, saying they were arguing for every New Zealander to have the same legal rights regardless of race.

But Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the group's ideas were backwards.

"It's an old campaign, that failed in the old days and is going to fail now. I don't know why he is wasting his time."

"New Zealanders are very concerned to make sure there is real justice in New Zealand."

The campaign will be running ads in community newspapers and making public speeches in the lead-up to next year's general election.

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