Christopher Luxon, David Seymour labelled 'racist' by Te Pāti Māori's Debbie Ngarewa-Packer

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has labelled Christopher Luxon and David Seymour as racists.

In a live interview on The Hui on Monday afternoon, Ngarewa-Packer said the National and ACT leaders were using moral panic to create racism.

"Christopher Luxon is definitely utilising anti-Māori rhetoric to be able to gain points with his voters."

Challenged by The Hui host Julian Wilcox to say whether the National Party leader was racist, Ngarewa-Packer replied, "Yes".

Ngarewa-Packer said Seymour was using the same social theory for moral panic - "utilising the same tool of racism".

"And racists have to use those tools because they can't rely on intelligent pro-Māori, tangata whenua rights.

"What they are doing is to create their might over right to create disharmony and division in Aotearoa."

In response, Seymour said that "they never say what that racist rhetoric is".

"ACT stands for universal human rights and services targeted on need rather than race. Besides not being racist in itself, these are positions many Māori agree with," he said in a statement. 

"It is the Māori Party that has little to offer but racial framing of every issue, it is ACT's detailed policies on housing, education, and the economy that would open up opportunity to all regardless of race."

A spokesperson for Luxon said Ngarewa-Packer's comment "says more about them than it does about us".

"They are demonstrating precisely why under no circumstances will National govern with the Māori Party after the election."

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.
Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. Photo credit: The Hui

But Ngarewa-Packer was more circumspect when it came to the Labour leader - and potential coalition partner - Chris Hipkins.

Referring to the Prime Minister's statements surrounding the gang tangi in Ōpōtiki, she said he should have been better advised.

But she said Pākehā New Zealanders as a whole were supportive of Te Pāti Māori's goals.

"Some of our biggest fighters and champions representing change for tangata whenua are tangata Tiriti.

"What we have are a loud minority who are really fearful of change. But the majority in Aotearoa really recognise we are all focused on making sure our future generations are thriving. I'm really heartened by it."

Her co-leader Rawiri Waititi predicted Te Pāti Māori could make a clean sweep of the Māori electorates.

"On a good day, we'd take all seven seats. On a bad day, we'll take three to four."

He was asked by Wilcox how Te Pāti Māori would get a coalition partner to agree to policies like removing GST from food and a capital gains tax when Labour has currently ruled them out.

Waititi responded that on election day on October 14, Labour would have to have some "hard conversations" amongst themselves. 

"Because those are strong lines for us in terms of heading into any coalition."

He revealed Te Pāti Māori would announce its final election candidate, for the Hauraki-Waikatō electorate, this week.

Made with support from New Zealand On Air and Te Māngai Pāho.