In response to the speech that was given by National Party Leader Don Brash on 27th January 2004 at the Orewa Rotary club.
Tena koutou katoa.
It’s a privilege and honour to talk to you tonight and support the Rodney branch and Marja Lubeck for this important fundraiser.
When I was thinking about this speech, initially I thought I might just have a bit of fun and tell you like Professor Margaret Mutu did back in 2011 that all of you are really just guests in this country; so it was time for you to hand back all the land you’ve stolen from us and challenge you in terms of your commitment to Maori and basically ask you to support the appointment of a Maori Prime Minister and Maori cabinet.
But then I realised how bloody well Winston’s been going in the polls backed by his new ‘boot-the-Maoris’ recruit Shane Jones, so I quickly got rid ofthat idea, and when I really thought about it I felt that the Brash speech deserved a serious critique.
It’s important to remember the politics of the time.Maori had just received an opportunity to test foreshore and seabed ownership in this country; and our Party, Labour, sadly ran for cover and instead of standing up for Maori people’s rights to go to court, began plans to roll out legislation that would prevent Maori from exercising their legal rights, and in fact, human rights.
Labour got scared and thank goodness our current leader Andrew Little has apologised for the foreshore and seabed debacle, which has allowed many Maori, including myself, to again support the Labour Party.
Don Brash capitalised on the fear from Pakeha New Zealand at the time that Maori would stop them from using the beaches, and his speech in my view remains the most racist political speech that I have ever heard from any mainstream politician in the last generation.
Part 1 What Brash said and the falsehoods of his claims
So, I stand before you in the shadow of former National Party Leader Don Brash who 13 years ago stood here on this very spot and launched his infamous Orewa Speech which purposely played on voter’s anger, fear and resentment by claiming Maori had special privilege and that NZ was on the dangerous drift towards racial separatism.
What Don Brash said was false, the leaked emails from Brash’s office show us National’s true agenda behind the speech, show us the lies and the totally dishonest campaign that was rolled out by Brash and his team.
In his Orewa Speech entitled ‘Nationhood’, Brashtried to tell non-Maori that they were somehow second class citizens in their own country because there was a “dangerous drift towards racial separatism in New Zealand”. He claimed there were “widespread Treaty abuses starting to destroy the country”. He sowed anger, fear and resentment and reaped a 17 point jump in the polls. In fact, it was an amazing jump – National were lagging at 28 per cent and within 2 weeks, they were 45 per cent in the polls, 10 per cent ahead of Labour. It was an unprecedented jump in the polls that has never happened again.
The most disturbing fact that emerged from Don Brash’s leaked emails was that all his advisors knew that what they were saying about Maori privilege
The press officer for National at the time, Jason Ede, the very same Jason Ede who resigned in 2014 after his involvement in the Dirty Politics scandal, sent a media request asking for the top 10 examples of Maori privilege an email where he claimed it was too difficult to dismantle race-based funding from needs-based funding.
The truth was that they didn’t have any examples that would stand up to any media scrutiny.
So do Maori have this mythical racial privilege? Let’s look beyond the rhetoric and examine the actual facts.
Maori are 380% more likely to be convicted of a crime and 200% more likely to die from heart disease and suicide. Maori are paid 18% less and 34% leave school without a qualification. Maori die earlier and suffer more.
Where on earth is the racial privilege in being convicted at higher rates? Dying more, earning less and being undereducated?
Part 2 The true agenda behind the speech
The true agenda behind the speech was to manipulate NZers and we know this from the leaked office emails detailing the build up to the speech.
On the 8th November, 2003, Brash gave a speech to the
NZ Chamber of Commerce Annual conference. In that speech, Don Brash said National was proud of its record in Maori Development. He said, “In the 1990s, we promoted Maori self-management in education, health and social policy, just as we encouraged other communities to have more say in their schools, and their health and other services.”
Those are Don Brash’s words, yet a mere 10 weeks later here in Orewa, Don Brash describes those very same policies he was proud of in November as “separatist, ‘special privilege’ and ‘no basis for funding based on race’.
Why did National and Don Brash in just 10 weeks go from a respectable position with Maori to be proud of, to opening up deep racist scars that still haunt Maori today?
Brash publicly claimed to have noble motives about the speech, the truth revealed in leaked emails afterwards however was that National sought to manufacture an issue to eclipse Winston’s hard-line immigration stance, and that was with ‘Maori separatism’ rhetoric.
The behind the scenes philosophy for the speech was to use United States Republican strategist David Horowitz’s style of political tactics which was to use anger, fear and resentment to motivate voters.
Anger was generated by claiming that Maori had “mischievous minds”, who interpret the Treaty to “suit their financial purposes’ and ‘invent or rediscover beliefs for pecuniary gain”.
Fear was created by using negative language like, “conflict”, “corruption”, “stand over tactics” and “tragedy”.
The third tactic promoted by Horowitz which shaped the Orewa speech was resentment and Brash crafted that by claiming Maori were a privileged minority with a “birth right to the upper hand”, who had “greater civil, political and democratic rights than any other NZer” and “power to veto” development “which could provide us all with jobs”.
Brash even went as far as to suggest that “non-Maori” who supported “the Maori cause” were in fact a treacherous “fifth column”.
Repeating and hearing his words today should make many of us shudder with regret.
The hideous and odious truth about Don Brash’s speech, as laid out in his leaked emails, was to manipulate Kiwis by manufacturing gross falsehoods about Maori.
Part 3 The greatest lie and the greatest tragedy of Don Brash’s Orewa Speech.
The greatest lie Brash spoke was that Maori want to be separate and the greatest tragedy is that National took NZers innate desire for egalitarianism and equality and twisted it into a one law for all racism that required lies and gutter stereotypes to justify itself.
I’m here to tell you that Maori don’t want to be separate, we have always wanted a Partner and we are still waiting in good faith for that partnership to manifest. Visit our Marae, visit our Kapa Haka, visit our schools, visit our TV, visit our radio, visit our culture, visit our people, visit our lives – walk with us as partners who are genuine in that partnership.
The myth of Maori separatism is created because people would prefer to think of righteous Maori grievance as something that requires separating so that the majority don’t have to see it, hear it or interact with it.
It is a dangerous myth that alleviates obligations to respond to our shared history of colonialism. Maori lost 95% of their land in less than a century and were almost wiped out as a race altogether at the turn of the 20th Century.
Generational poverty caused from the loss of our economic base is alive and well right now in every social statistic that shows Maori failing. Listening to, understanding and responding to those legitimate complaints and the reality that has created today doesn’t require separatism as the solution. Maori don’t want to be separate from the country we live in. Maori want what every NZers wants, to be included and respected.
We need to all work together to make the promise of New Zealand one that is shared by us all.
Don Brash’s Orewa speech was a cynical manufactured racial smear calculated to twist the best egalitarian values of us as a people into a misdirected mob with all the rationality of a lynch mob.
I’m here 13 years later to tell you that we are better than that manipulation by Don Brash and that Maori are still waiting to be partners.
It’s time you joined us.
What is the most important thing in the world? It is ALL the people, it is ALL the people, it is ALL the people