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National Party is playing with fire

26 July 2001

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said in the House last night that the National Party's campaign to stop the Bay of Plenty Bill was encouraging people with racial prejudices in New Zealand.

Ms Fitzsimons has received a few hundred postcards drafted and printed by the National Party in which Bay of Plenty people asked her to say 'no' to separate Maori seats on local councils.

"There is nothing wrong with a campaign to try to persuade me to change my mind about this bill. That is democracy. But it is very clear that the vast majority of the people who are expressing a view on this bill have not read the bill. They know what they have been told about the bill, and they have been misinformed," she said.

"For example, they said Maori should be elected by 1 person, 1 vote, like everyone else. That's exactly what the bill will do."

Ms Fitzsimons said most of the cards were expressing a genuine concern which is legitimate which she has listened to. But the comments on some cards were disgusting and racist.

"The fact is that race relations over this issue are at an all time low in some of our communities at the moment, and there are people who are not helping in this process.

"The campaign that has been stirred up by the National Party on this issue has a very nasty underside to it. People have written things that I am reluctant to repeat but they should be repeated. I believe that it is better they receive the light of day than be hidden in the nasty crevices they emerged from.

People have written to Ms Fitzsimons things like: "New Zealand would be a rich nation without these darkies milking every system"; "The country will go bankrupt if they gain any more control"; " It's about time those Maoris are told they are just a minority"; " Maori must throw off the shackles of Stone Age tribalism"...

"The things that have been said on the postcards have exposed, and the National Party is encouraging, an underside of the New Zealand psyche that is dangerous and I am disgusted with it. It is playing with the fire of the dark side of some people's attitudes towards racial relations in New Zealand, " she said.

ENDS

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