Louisa Wall: Don Brash's Māori policy 'in denial of history'

Louisa Wall: Don Brash's Māori policy 'in denial of history'

Outspoken former National Party leader Don Brash has gone head to head with Māori MP Lousia Wall over his latest attack on perceived preferential treatment for Māori.

He told The Nation Māori chiefs signed away their right for sovereignty more than a century ago and it's about time the Government realised it.

"There can be no basis for special privileges for any race, no basis for government funding based on race," Dr Brash said back in 2004, when he was National Party leader.

"Why give a special preference, a special legal, constitutional status, to those who happen to have a Māori ancestor?" he said on Saturday morning.

"It was a popular policy then and it's still a popular policy."

At least 14 people agree with Dr Brash; they make up the Hobson's Pledge lobby group. Their aim is to pressure politicians into opposing what they call the preferential treatment of Māori, to create a "colour-blind state".

But Ms Wall says that's anti-Māori and regressive.

"It's trying to negate history," she says. "You're actually in denial of our history."

She argues Māori people aren't fighting for preferred status but appropriate recognition.

"We're actually fighting for our rightful place as the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa. We are the mana whenua."

Those are rights Dr Brash says were signed away with the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

The lobby group has offered a financial incentive to political parties that support their cause - how much, Dr Brash won't say. He's also remaining tight lipped on whose idea it was to reignite the debate over the perceived preferential treatment of Māori.

"I'm not prepared to name him because it's nothing to do with the public at all."

But the public might beg to differ.