Election 2023: David Seymour accuses Te Pāti Māori of politicising home invasion, Winston Peters says his house vandalised too

ACT leader David Seymour has hit back at Te Pāti Māori, accusing them of turning a candidate's home invasion into a political issue.

Te Pāti Māori said in a statement on Friday the home of Hana-Rāwhiti Maipi-Clarke, its Hauraki-Waikato candidate, was invaded and vandalised - saying it was a "politically motivated attack".  

A police spokesperson confirmed to Newshub it was "making enquiries into a report of a burglary of a residential address in Huntly", reported on Monday. 

Seymour has been accused of race-baiting on the campaign trail and Te Pāti Māori alleged the home invasion was "what happens when right-wing politicians race-bait and fearmonger for votes". 

But Seymour hit back when he appeared on AM on Monday, saying the comments by Te Pāti Māori are politicising the incident and could lead to "inciting further political violence". 

He told AM co-host Ryan Bridge he denies there is any link between the language ACT Party candidates are using and the attack on Maipi-Clarke's home.  

"I think the way they're trying to politicise these incidents by trying to blame them on other political leaders is in itself dangerous because when they say these bad things are happening and it's those guys' fault, they're potentially inciting further political violence," Seymour said.  

"The ACT Party is very, very clear. We believe in a New Zealand where each person has the same rights and duties, just like the treaty says. We believe that public services should be delivered on the basis of need, not race or culture because ultimately each of us is human and we believe in universal human rights.  

"We absolutely condemn anybody who is slapping candidates, doing home invasions that have no place in our democracy but neither does trying to politicise this case, which nobody believes." 

ACT Party leader David Seymour.
ACT Party leader David Seymour. Photo credit: AM

Seymour said it's "irresponsible" for Te Pāti Māori to accuse another political party of causing the home invasion.  

"We talk in the first instance to the parliamentary security, then to the police and then we deal with it quietly and effectively and yes, we've had to hire private security for specific candidates who have been threatened," Seymour said. 

"Yes, some of those we could've linked to other parties but I think what we need is for every politician to be collegial, to join together in condemning any kind of political violence that has no place in our society and our democracy and certainly not two weeks before an election and actually work to have an honest and healthy dialogue about the future of our country."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, who appeared on AM following Seymour's interview, played down the attack on Maipi-Clarke's home.  

"Sorry, first of all, it's not a home invasion for a start, that description is wrong. The second thing is we've all had that. We've had all sorts of things done to us over the years. This is not new...I've had my house trashed on the outside," he said.  

"All of a sudden this is a publicity stunt... I've got sympathy but when you've got someone saying this has all happened to me, this is going to encourage others."  

It also comes after a group of Māori leaders, including Dame Naida Glavish, wrote an open letter calling on political parties to stop using race-baiting as an election strategy. 

"Leaders, whether it is within your iwi, your whānau or of a political party, have a responsibility to call out racism and race-baiting and publicly condemn it," the group said.

The group said "race-baiting" for votes is not new in Aotearoa but the upcoming election has seen "the dog whistling and the outright public displays of racism from political candidates" increased to "unacceptable levels". 

"We need to draw a line in the sand, put an end to this divisive style of politics because Aotearoa, we are better than that," they said.

The group said they supported Labour leader Chris Hipkins' position, who called for an end to "race-baiting and racist comments" on the election campaigns. 

"We acknowledge both the Green Party and Te Paati Māori for their anti-racism positions and respect the words of Kiingi Tuheitia Pōtatau Te Wherowhero IIV, who, at his Koroneihana called for political parties to stop using Māori people as a political football."

Seymour was asked by Bridge if he would pledge to end race-baiting comments like what the group has asked, but he hit back saying Te Pāti Māori is in the same boat with their comments. 

"I mean these guys (Te Pāti Māori) are very happy to throw around these words race-baiting, racism," he said.  

"So these guys, they want to start pointing fingers and saying you're racist and you're doing this and you're doing that, totally unhelpful. What New Zealand needs and what New Zealand yearns for is to be united by our common humanity, not constantly divided by superficial differences." 

"I think that could equally be applied to Te Pāti Māori who have said that Pākehā are an archaic species, that Māori on the other hand are genetically superior to all others. We saw this last week on the show when I asked Chlöe Swarbrick what's an example that you're talking about? They can't give one."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters Photo credit: AM

Peters has also been accused of race-baiting on the campaign trail and was asked on AM about the open letter by the Māori leaders.  

"Naida, when I was a younger lawyer and in politics, I helped you countless times and you will know that there,"  Peters said.

"I'm still the same person but we're not going to go down this racist path, which has the party you belong to have its leaders say that Māori have superior DNA."