Labour MP Peeni Henare blasts Todd Muller, Judith Collins for being 'blind' to Māori concerns

Labour MP Peeni Henare has delivered a scathing speech in Parliament blasting National leader Todd Muller and MP Judith Collins for being "blind" to Māori concerns. 

Henare referred to National's new leadership on Tuesday suggesting MP Paul Goldsmith is Māori in defence of a lack of diversity in the party's frontbench - even though Goldsmith is not Māori. 

Henare, MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, also called out Collins, a senior National MP, for saying during a select committee on Wednesday that she was tired of being demonised for her culture.

Muller defended the lack of Māori MPs on his frontbench on Wednesday morning, telling The AM Show he made decisions about the ranking based "on merit" rather than ethnicity. 

Henare said in his speech that Muller's response "told Māori he does not see them" and said it shows that National "is blind to who we are and what we stand for". 

"The leader of the Opposition may not see us. He may not value our contribution. But we see him. And we see what true weakness really looks like."

He said when leaders "admit that they don't see someone's culture, when they don't value the Māori contribution, they are admitting that they are blind to our achievements and deaf to our concerns". 

Henare then blasted Collins for her response during a session of the Finance and Expenditure Committee, in which Labour MP Tāmati Coffey highlighted a lack of Treaty of Waitangi recognition in a document being discussed. 

Collins could be heard protesting in the background, saying: "Stupid questions."

The committee chairperson, Labour MP Deborah Russell, could be heard describing Collins' interjection as "quite a white girl comment". 

Collins then shot back, describing herself as "someone who's greatly sick of being demonised for my ethnicity, thank you very much". 

ACT leader David Seymour could be heard describing Dr Russell's comment to Collins as "unbelievably racist". 

In his speech, Henare suggested Collins does not know what it is like to be marginalised. 

"When Ms Collins is more likely to live in poverty, to end up in prison, to be stopped to have her bags checked in a shop even though your Pākehā mates are not, then, maybe she can claim to be demonised for her culture."

He said Collins, "like her leader, are blind to the real Aotearoa the rest of us live in". 

Henare also pushed back against criticism of Employment Minister Willie Jackson and Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis - both Labour MPs - who have been accused of not being active enough during the COVID-19 crisis. 

"Their contributions have made a difference to our Māori communities."