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Lobby group opposes `Maori favouritism'

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/09/2016

The government and opposition parties have no time for the views of a new lobby group set up to oppose "Maori favouritism" and argue for the abolition of Maori roll seats in parliament.

It's called Hobson's Pledge and one of its founders is former National Party leader Don Brash.

The name comes from a statement made by New Zealand's first governor, William Hobson, who said after the Treaty of Waitangi had been signed: "We are now one people".

Dr Brash says the group, which includes anti-MMP campaigner Peter Shirtcliffe, intends running a media advertising campaign calling for an end to preferential treatment for Maori.

He's citing proposed changes to the Resource Management Act, which would give Maori greater involvement in planning processes, as an example of government policies which create "constitutional preferences".

And he thinks the Maori roll seats in parliament have outlived their usefulness.

Cabinet Minister Steven Joyce doesn't believe the issues the group are raising will have much impact.

"Most New Zealanders recognise they have a prime minister who is actually very even-handed on this sort of stuff," he said.

Labour leader Andrew Little says the campaign is racist.

"This is really fringe stuff," he said.

"It only works as an idea if you're prepared to overlook the first 100 years of New Zealand's history, ignore the fact that there were land confiscations and there were unlawful detentions of Maori people."

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says it isn't the first time a campaign of its kind has been tried, and they have failed in the past.

"It's going to fail now, I don't know why he is wasting his time."

The campaign harks back to Dr Brash's "one law for all" speech at Orewa in 2004, when he was leader of the National Party.

It gave National a big boost in the polls but eventually ran out of steam.

Dr Brash is also a former leader of the ACT Party.

The current leader, David Seymour, says he doesn't endorse what the group is doing.

"They seem to be going after Maori for being Maori, when there's not really an issue to be solved," he told RNZ.

"When Don gave his Orewa speech it was the time of the foreshore and seabed controversy, peoples' attitudes were very different.

"Now, 12 years on, there's a very different environment."

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