ACT party leader Don Brash he was tempted to use the headline Apartheid Aotearoa in a provocative advertisement over which the party's creative director has quit.
The party ran a half-page ad in the Weekend Herald on Saturday asking readers whether they are "fed up with pandering to Maori radicals".
It went on to say that governments past and present have favoured Maori who now have more rights than non-Maori.
The ad's creator, John Ansell, on Sunday resigned as ACT's creative director, saying he did so after his original advertisement was toned down by others involved in the campaign.
Dr Brash told Morning Report he believes the final advertisement was a good reflection of what's happening in the country.
"We could quite easily have used that headline, I was tempted to use it. Apartheid Aotearoa is in fact the direction we're moving in but no-one seriously believes that at this point we're anything like South Africa and apartheid is a word that South Africans use," he says.
Maori Party co-leader, Pita Sharples, says ACT has become increasingly negative toward Maori since Don Brash became leader, and the advertisement has crossed a line.
Labour leader Phil Goff says Dr Brash's extremist position on race issues is not the way forward for New Zealand.
The advertisement's creator, John Ansell told Morning Report he quit because he wants to be associated only with those who go for maximum boldness.
"I'm too stroppy by half, I think, for Don, he said. "I've got this sort of tendency to go for the boldest statement in every case, I believe that works, I believe that magnetises people for and against you.
Mr Ansell says his preferred advertisement headline was "Fed up with with the Maorification of everything?".
He says Apartheid Aotearoa was his second choice and that he'd agreed apartheid was not the right word because it conjured up negative meanings.