ACT leader David Seymour defends saying Māori shouldn't be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccines amid pile-on

David Seymour is facing an absolute pile-on after tweeting an access code for Māori to book their vaccinations because he says they shouldn't be prioritised.

The fury is now extending beyond social media, with National Māori Authority chair Matthew Tukaki telling the ACT leader to "f**k off". 

"Well, that's not very polite, is it?" Seymour responded, during a press conference at Parliament on Monday. 

At 10am Seymour tweeted a Māori priority vaccination access code for The Trusts Arena in west Auckland. By 4pm it had more than 660 comments, with many calling Seymour racist and urging him to delete the tweet. 

"We don't need politicians milking this for political gain," Tukaki told Newshub. 

The target of Seymour's tweet was a west Auckland vaccine drive-through, where 62,000 have had their jabs. The vast majority of them have been Pākehā, but still somehow Seymour thinks Māori are getting unfair access. 

"Enormous mistake," he said. "It infantilises some New Zealanders and infuriates the rest."

But here are some facts. Māori are at least 50 percent more likely to die from COVID-19 than Pakeha, are 2.5 times more likely to need hospitalisation, and one in five Māori aged over 12 have had two doses, compared to one in three in the general population.

"David, stop doing that," says Dr Rawiri Jansen, an outspoken advocate for Māori health. "It's unhelpful, it's frankly racist."

Seymour insists he's not race-baiting.

"They wanted to allow people who had access to a priority code for Māori to jump the queue and that is wrong," he told the press conference. 

But hang on, didn't Seymour jump the queue when he was prioritised as a party leader?

"If the Minister of COVID-19 Response writes a letter to a person and says 'I want you to do this as a public symbol', then I think that's a thing you have to do," Seymour said. 

Seymour's argument isn't backed up by facts or the need to address inequity in New Zealand and our most vulnerable to COVID-19. 

But if he needed any feedback about his reckons - and whether people agreed - that came through loud and clear.