4 Feb 2019

Don Brash at Waitangi: 'We're trying to create partnerships' - Reuben Taipari

10:34 am on 4 February 2019

The Ngāpuhi member who invited Don Brash to speak at Waitangi says they want to hear out his views - even if they don't agree with him completely.

Reuben Taipari

Reuben Taipari Photo: YouTube screenshot

Environmental activist who chairs Te Ahikaaroa Trust. Reuben Taipari invited Don Brash to speak. He will make a speech at the lower marae on Tuesday which will be followed by a panel discussing his views.

Mr Taipari who previously participated in protests to protect indigenous rights said Dr Brash would bring another perspective.

He told Morning Report that working together was the way forward.

"As I understand Don wants the same things as I do - a better future for our children," he said.

"Unless we come together and have a discussion about it we're always going to be at each other's throats."

He said he did have community pushback on the idea of having Dr Brash at Waitangi, but it was all about open discourse.

Don Brash speaking on The Panel at RNZ. 7 August 2018.

Don Brash Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

"My close friends, whanau and comrades, they're all going to protest and they disagree with what I'm trying to do. But then I have the other side of the discussion, my kaumatua here are very interested," Mr Taipari said.

"We have nothing to fear. We're trying to create partnerships and move forward as a country.

"If it becomes too confrontational, I'll concede to the audience."

Dr Brash has received a more-than-frosty reception in the past; with a protestor flinging mud in his face in 2004.

There's already opposition to his return to the marae.

Ricky Houghton, chief executive of He Korowai Trust in Kaitaia, has saved more than 550 houses from mortgagee sales in the Far North.

Ricky Houghton Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

He Korowai Trust chair Ricky Houghton said Don Brash meant trouble.

"I don't know his kaupapa, but I do know his intent ... I don't think that's changed since the last time he was here," he said.

"The last time I saw Don Brash up here, there was a big scuffle. There were things hurled at him including a bit of abuse from all the people around me."

He said Dr Brash being there would be disruptive and distract the purpose of the week's events.

"I believe that it can only bring trouble for everyone up here.

"If I had my way as the local rangatira of any facility I had the authority over, I'd ring him up and say 'Mr Brash don't come, you're not welcome'."

Mr Houghton said Mr Brash was allowed "to have his right to speak and share his view, but there's a time and a place and I don't think the timing and the place is appropriate over the Waitangi period".

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