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A Brash approach to race relations

27 January, 2004
A Brash approach to race relations

Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says that even people who had legitimate concerns about claims to the foreshore and seabed would feel sick at the dangerous path of racial division being promulgated tonight [Tuesday] by the National Party in leader Don Brash's keynote speech on race relations.

"It is disgraceful that in the year 2004 the leader of a once-proud party is prepared to dredge the very pits of political sentiment to garner a few more votes," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"Dr Brash's recipe for making us 'one people' revolves around abolishing Maori seats in Parliament, removing any mention of the Treaty in legislation and refusing to recognise any customary title to the foreshore and seabed.

"It also depends on abolishing history. The Treaty is a covenant, which sets out a long-term relationship, settling some past grievances does not abolish that relationship. Pakeha are here because our forebears gave solemn guarantees, and it is up to us to honour them in a good-faith partnership.

"Dr Brash fails to mention how exactly he intends to close the economic, social and educational gaps that Maori struggle under. Perhaps he'll abolish keeping separate statistics for Maori, so that no one will know we're really not all 'one people'?

"If dishonouring the Treaty, imposing colonial culture on tangata whenua and arbitrarily extinguishing rights that had existed for centuries really was the way to create 'one people', then Maoridom would have died out in the 19th century and there really would be 'one people' in Aotearoa - and how much poorer would we be for that.

"Like the Victorian imperialists he's emulating, Dr Brash's vanilla vision is of a patriarchal, middle-class society where all women bake scones, all men are bankers - and the only brown faces are products of the tanning clinic.

"In Dr Brash's simplistic revision of history, Maori might have been the victim of the odd bit of sharp practice from early Europeans but we - you and I - weren't around then, so past injustices are nothing to do with us.

"Extraordinary! Is Dr Brash absolving the Crown from any responsibility for the confiscation of Maori land, on the basis that Queen Victoria's not around anymore to cop the blame?

"Playing the race card has become something of a hardy annual amongst struggling National leaders," Ms Fitzsimons said. "Dr Brash would do well to remember the fate of his predecessors who placed political expediency ahead of morality."


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