Paul Goldsmith accepts 'genuine anguish' colonisation caused Māori, but we shouldn't 'dismiss the good things'

National Party MP Paul Goldsmith says he accepts the "genuine anguish" Māori suffered through colonisation, but we shouldn't "dismiss the good things" that come from introducing other cultures into New Zealand.

It comes after his appearance on Newshub Nation on Saturday, where he said colonisation was a good thing for Māori "on balance".

"The reality is that New Zealand was isolated from the rest of the world for centuries and at some point, it had to reconnect with the rest of the world. And that happened in the 19th century and it was always going to be a very traumatic experience," he said.

"But with it came all sorts of wonderful things, such as literacy, such as the freedoms and democracy that have come through."

His comments caused an uproar, with Māori Party and Green Party co-leaders condemning his remarks as "dangerous" and "disgusting".

On Monday, Goldsmith went into explanation mode, saying his comments "have generated some strong responses".

"The core question I was grappling with when I made my comments was: is the New Zealand we live in today, which is the result of colonisation, a good thing on balance?" he wrote in a Facebook post.

"I'm proud of our country and what we have achieved. I'm proud to be a New Zealander and I don't think we should dismiss the good things that came from the introduction of other cultures into this country."

He says that doesn't mean everything in New Zealand's history is perfect and he doesn't seek in any way to "diminish the genuine anguish" that Māori experienced as a result of colonisation and still experience today.

Explaining that many Māori suffered great loss through colonisation, he says New Zealand is still a "work in progress" when it comes to addressing inequities. These include breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi and the Land Wars.

"Māori would be in a different position today had those breaches not occurred. But New Zealand also has one of the highest standards of living in the world today, which is something to be proud of," Goldsmith says.

"When we look back on our history, where does the weight lie between guilt, anger and pride? For me, there's a bit of all three, but pride predominates."

Paul Goldsmith.
Paul Goldsmith. Photo credit: Getty Images

Goldsmith clashed with the Government last week over the term 'white privilege' being incorporated into official teaching material, which he says "imports American-style culture wars" into the classroom. 

When asked on Newshub Nation if he thought white privilege existed, he was non-committal.

"There's privilege across New Zealand. The problem with [white privilege] is it's a stereotype. There are certainly New Zealanders of European origin who are privileged, and there are New Zealanders of European origin who are not privileged, who are struggling," he said.

"If you focus on the things that actually make a difference in the education context, get them to school, make sure that at school that teaches literacy and math and they are well prepared to succeed in the 21st century and a global universe, then that's more important."

The Government has shrugged off Goldsmith's criticisms, saying white privilege is a 'theme' but not a core part of the curriculum.