Don Brashes aside his critics at meeting
The Maori best friend (three mentions), Martin Luther King quotes (four), white privilege and genocide (one each).
To say the visit of political lobby group Hobson’s Pledge to Rotorua sparked some strong debate would be something of an understatement.
The group campaigns against what it believes are racially based laws and policies, arguing for the abolition of Maori electorates and closing the Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal, among other policies.
Spokesperson Casey Costello was first to address the small but mixed audience at Hennessey’s Irish Bar on Monday night.
Costello introduced herself as Ngapui and Anglo-Irish, but ‘‘whatever my history, I’m first and mostly a New Zealander’’.
‘‘Maori are not predisposed to success or failure due to their ancestry,’’ she said.
‘‘We’re frequently told there is no opportunity for Maoris. This has to stop, just stop the excuses.’’
Former National Party leader Don Brash then spoke, offering his support for the Treaty of Waitangi.
‘‘An extraordinary document for its time, nothing like it happened anywhere else in the world,’’ he said.
He said past wrongs, especially around land confiscation, should be compensated. There were caveats however.
‘‘We have created from this Treaty a monster,’’ he said.
‘‘Once these settlements have been done we should move forward as one people but we aren’t doing that.’’
Brash argued that in signing the Treaty, Maori had ceded sovereignty, not entered into a partnership.
‘‘When you surrender to the Queen it ain’t no partnership.’’
Brash also took aim at Maori electorates, saying they should have been scrapped in 1893.
‘‘There are many Maori in Parliament and they got there not because they’re Maori, but because they’re good. . . Maori don’t need mollycoddling.’’
A lively question and answer session followed, with forceful arguments both for and against a number of the issues raised, with discussion of the Treaty proving especially heated.
There was a sole protester outside the event too.
‘‘I don’t like racism,’’ said Frances Louis.
‘‘I said to Don, pull your boys’ heads in.’’
Find the word ‘partnership’ in the Treaty of Waitangi and Don Brash has $1000 for you.