Chris Hipkins defends Peeni Henare's use of gun metaphor at Waitangi

Labour leader Chris Hipkins has leapt to the defence of Peeni Henare after he used a metaphor involving a gun during a speech at Waitangi that some saw as inappropriate.    

Henare came out with fighting words during a speech on Saturday, using a metaphor in Māori which translated into English as getting out a gun, firing at the enemy and letting the shots speak for him.  

"When you take off your jacket, it's to get ready for a fight," he said.    

"The bugle has sounded and we have heard the call. This is a fight that will not be fought just in Parliament. I lift my gun, and I let the shots do the talking."   

He was quick to clarify: "That's a figurative gun, not an actual gun."  

Hipkins joined AM on Wednesday morning and was asked about Henare's metaphor.   

He told the show it was quite clear Henare wasn't making an actual threat.    

"I think everyone can recognise a metaphor when they see one. I mean we talk about going into Parliament all guns blazing next week, that doesn't mean we're actually going to show up with guns," he said.    

"When we talk about fighting for something, it doesn't mean we're actually going to roll up our sleeves and have a fight. I think people will recognise and he was very clear in his actual remarks that he was using that as a metaphor rather than as an actual threat."    

Hipkins was asked if a member of a different political party used a similar metaphor, would he be okay with it? 

"One of the things that I've learned over the years of visiting Waitangi is on the marae, the orators on the marae will often use metaphors, some of them can be, quite entertaining, some of them can be more confronting. I recall Shane Jones talking about the artillery that Helen Clark used to carry. These things are not new," Hipkins responded.    

Henare was criticised for his metaphor by David Seymour, with the ACT leader saying it was inappropriate.    

"I think that they should be held to a very high standard for talking about shooting people just as I'm sure any other leader would," Seymour told Newshub.    

"The idea that they get a free pass because they said it in Māori on a marae points to some of the challenges that we have in New Zealand."   

When asked about Seymour's criticism, Hipkins told AM the ACT leader is not in a position to be "throwing stones".    

"I mean, this was the guy who made jokes about blowing up the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, so, I think perhaps he's not the best person to be critiquing the words of others," Hipkins said.   

Watch the full interview above.