Te Tii Marae more welcoming than most New Zealand universities - Don Brash

Controversial former politician Don Brash says his hosts at Te Tii Marae were more willing to hear his views on New Zealand race relations than most universities.

On Tuesday, Dr Brash arrived to speak on the marae after being invited by organiser Rueben Taipari, and although the site is well-known for its protests outside its gates, he was welcomed peacefully.

Dr Brash was there in his role as a spokesperson for Hobson's Pledge, which supports one law for all and is against targeted, race-based Government policies.

Speaking to reporters before he entered the gates, Dr Brash said he had been "very impressed" that he was invited, but wasn't sure what the reaction would be to his speech, which he kept under wraps.

"I respect the fact that I have been invited, and I don't doubt I will be treated with the courtesy with which Māori are famous for," he said.

"I am here to give a speech, and to listen. I understand there will be a panel discussion after my speech, and there will be several people on it that disagree with my views. I will be very keen to hear their views."

Don Brash arriving.
Don Brash arriving. Photo credit: Newshub

Only months after he was barred from speaking at Massey University, he said Te Tii Marae's willingness to hear his thoughts was significant.

"This [invitation] was a particularly significant one I thought, a chance to come back to Waitangi... I had a somewhat robust treatment last time, and I respect the fact that they are willing to listen to views which may differ from their's, it is fantastic.

"I contrast their willingness to hear to different views with the attitude of some universities in the country, which have been a good deal less welcoming to views they don't agree with."

He also said accusations that he or Hobson's Pledge was "racist" was "bizarre".

"What I believe in, very strongly, is that all New Zealanders, irrespective of their ethnicity, irrespective of when they came or their ancestors came to New Zealand, should have the same political rights."

While a few placards were on show past the Marae's gates, the only locals to approach the former National Party leader and Reserve Bank Governor came to give him their support.

One lady, Katie Tahere, who advocates for greater suicide prevention and was sighted throughout the day with a large flag, said her conversation with Dr Brash had been special and he spoke of his family's own history with mental health.

When the two hugged after their conversation, she said she could tell it wasn't just a friendly hug, but that it "meant something".

Don Brash meeting with Katie Tahere.
Don Brash meeting with Katie Tahere. Photo credit: Newshub

While Dr Brash wouldn't be drawn on what he would speak about on the marae, on The AM Show on Monday he said it would include discussing the challenges facing the Ngāpuhi economy.

He also said on Monday he didn't agree with the Government's $100 million funding boost from the Provincial Growth Fund aimed at Māori - calling it "race-based funding".

"I don't think it's a good move of taxpayer money. The one thing the Treaty of Waitangi made abundantly clear is all New Zealanders should have the same rights - Article 3 is unambiguous on that point.

"We should be in a situation where every citizen, no matter when their ancestors came to New Zealand, should have the same political, democratic rights."