ACT Leader David Seymour slams Te Pāti Māori for 'threatening violence' in jokes about him

David Seymour has slammed Te Pāti Māori for "hateful" comments made against him and the ACT Party. 

At Te Pāti Māori's annual conference over the weekend, co-leader Rawiri Waititi talked about his efforts to change some of the Westminster traditions of Parliament, but he got distracted by a karaka necklace scratching his neck.

"These are karaka berries and they've still got the poison in them. So next time I go into Parliament this is what I'm going to do. When David Seymour's not looking, I'm going to go like this into his water," Waititi said.

He then tapped a seed pod over an imaginary glass. "There you are, re-indigenise yourself with some native seeds."

Te Pāti Māori President John Tamihere also said on Māori TV that ACT was "the white settler party and if they don't like it here, they should buy a one-way ticket to Australia."

Seymour has called on Te Pāti Māori to explain themselves over the "hateful" comments. 

"When a political party starts singling people out by race saying we're going to poison you, you don't belong in our community and you should leave, that's actually hateful," he told AM Early host Bernadine Oliver-Kerby. 

"I think those guys need to explain that because if it was anyone else, I think there would be a total outcry. But that's certainly a type of rhetoric that does not belong in New Zealand politics."

Seymour said the comments would have received more attention if someone in another party had said them.

"I do have a sense of humour, you'd have to, but threatening violence, threatening to poison people, saying people don't belong in our community based on their race, that kind of behaviour doesn't belong in New Zealand politics," he said. 

"I think we all know that if it was someone else in any other party saying the same thing, then there would be an absolute outcry. It would lead the news on every channel." 

Tamihere told the NZ Herald Waititi was "taking the mickey" and he did not regret his white settler comment, saying it was a response to Seymour's opposition to the Māori Health Authority.

"You have to fight fire with fire sometimes."

"When he's struggling to lift his vote then he attacks anything to do with any Māori involvement. In political discourse, I've got every right to call that out," Tamihere said.