Thirteen years after Don Brash’s controversial speech at the Orewa Rotary Club denouncing Maori “special privileges,” a stinging riposte was delivered on July 29 from the same spot.
Broadcaster and Labour party candidate Willie Jackson delivered the rebuke during a Labour Party fundraising dinner in aid of its candidate for Rodney, Marja Lubeck.
At the same time, Mr Jackson delivered another broadside at the then Labour Party for failing to back the right of Maori to contest ownership of the seabed and foreshore.
“Labour sadly ran for cover, and instead of standing up for Maori people’s right to go to court, began to roll out legislation that would prevent Maori from exercising their legal rights, and in fact, human rights,” he said.
Mr Jackson said back then he was uncertain Labour would ever recover. But he said the party had changed, and an apology from Andrew Little over the seabed and foreshore issue had done much to restore Maori confidence.
Turning to the Don Brash speech entitled “Nationhood,” Mr Jackson described it as a “cynical, manufactured, racial smear, calculated to twist the best egalitarian values of us as a people into a misdirected mob, with all the rationality of a lynch mob.”
“He sowed anger, fear and resentment and reaped a 17-point jump in the polls,” Mr Jackson told the audience of about 100 Labour party faithful.
“National were lagging 28 per cent and within two weeks they were 45 per cent in the polls, 10 per cent ahead of Labour.
It was an unprecedented jump in the polls that has never happened again,” he said.
In the earlier speech, Mr Brash had complained non-Maori were becoming second-class citizens and there was a dangerous drift towards racial separatism in New Zealand.
Mr Jackson said despite the best efforts of Don Brash’s staff they could not find one legitimate example of Maori privilege.
Indeed, the reverse was true. Maori died earlier and suffered more.
“Maori are 380 per cent more likely to be convicted of a crime and 200 per cent more likely to die from heart disease and suicide. Maori are paid 18 per cent less and 34 per cent leave school without a qualification,” Mr Jackson said.
Mr Jackson said Mr Brash’s speech was a deliberate attempt to use anger, fear and resentment to motivate voters by falsely claiming Maori had been given greater civil, political and democratic rights than any other New Zealander.
He said Brash’s even bigger lie was claiming that Maori wanted to be separate.
“I’m here to tell you that Maori don’t want to be separate, we have always wanted a partner, and we are still waiting in good faith for that partnership to manifest, he said.
“Visit our Marae, visit our Kapa Haka, visit our schools, visit our TV, visit our radio, visit our people, visit our lives. Walk with us as partners who are genuine in that partnership,” he said.