Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere calls Pākehā 'asymptomatic racists'

The Māori Party has announced it aims to tackle racism head-on, with co-leader John Tamihere calling Pākehā "asymptomatic racists".

Tamihere's no stranger to controversy - once saying "Sieg Heil" during an Auckland mayoral debate.

During his time as a Labour minister, he said while he didn't have a problem with gay people, "I have a problem with gay marriage".

But buckle in - he's got no plans to change.

"Quite the reverse. I'll probably put it on steroids," he told Newshub.

On Saturday the Māori Party released its flagship new policy to do away with Māori inequality. Called 'Whanau First', it would see a quarter of all government spending go on Māori projects.

"We know that it is going to shake the rednecks," co-leader Deborah Ngarewa-Packer says.

Tamihere's certainly not reigning it in when it comes to Labour MPs.

"They are assimilated, subjugated. I've been there so I understand this and I feel sorry for them," he told Newshub.

He's also not holding back on Winston Peters either, who as Racing Minister gained Budget funding for racecourses. Tamihere's promising to "rip it out of horses and give it to people".

"We're proud to be Māori and that bloke's ashamed. It's very hard to work with someone who's ashamed to be Māori when you have two very strident people proud to be Māori."

Anna Bracewell-Worrall analysis

The Māori Party has some impressive candidates - but this is very ambitious policy.

It's part of a desperate attempt to get back into Parliament - and while it's big on promises, it's light on details.

As a minor party, it would need backing from Labour or National and it's borderline impossible to see them agreeing to it.

The Māori Party's already ruled out working with National under Todd Muller - while National's not too keen on this policy either, telling Newshub it supports spending on the basis of need.