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Turia To Apologise For Holocaust Comments

Tariana Turia will apologise unreservedly for comparing 19th century colonisation of New Zealand to the Nazi Holocaust, Prime Minister Helen Clark said today.

Miss Clark said she had spoken to Mrs Turia about her speech to the New Zealand Psychological Society. Mrs Turia said in the speech that Maori were suffering from “post colonial traumatic stress syndrome” from the impacts of colonialism. She compared the trauma to that suffered by Jews in the Nazi holocaust.

The Prime Minister said Mrs Turia has voluntarily prepared a statement of apology for her comments, which caused widespread condemnation last week.

Miss Clark said she did not think Mrs Turia had the “slightest inkling” that her comments would cause the level of offence they did.

She said that while she supported her MPs right to express their views, she did not approve of the terms that Mrs Turia used. “Holocaust has a very specific and tragic meaning,” she said.

Maori Affairs minister Parekura Horomia would not be drawn on whether he supported Mrs Turia’s comments, saying that some dastardly things were done, but he wanted Maori to look forward.

Miss Clark said she had asked Social Services Minister Steve Maharey to keep an eye on Mrs Turia.

She said she had told Mrs Turia to concentrate on the areas where she has greatest expertise, such as health, where Mrs Turia has a proven track record. “If I was in her position I would have my head down and my bottom up for a while,” Mrs Clark said.

Miss Clark drew attention away from the Turia controversy, pointing to Capacity Building – support and funding for Maori organisations - as a big part of the Government’s Closing The Gaps policy. $113 million dollars has been set aside for Capacity Building for Maori and Pacific Island people.

She said Closing the Gaps was critical to the future of New Zealand. She said that by the middle of this century, Maori and Pacific Islanders will make up a third of the population, compared to one fifth at the 1996 census. She said there was a lot of work going on to improve the social position of Maori and Pacific Islanders.

Ends

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