This is how you respond to Don Brash: Willie Jackson’s 2017 Orewa Speech


In July 2017, Willie Jackson gave a speech at the very same Rotary Club Don Brash did his Orewa Speech, to respond directly to Brash’s speech 13 years earlier.

Using the leaked emails in Nicky Hager’s ‘Hollow Men’, it remains one of the best take downs of the true Brash agenda.

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.

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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’, Brash tried 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 was false and they feared the media would attack them for blatant fear mongering. Try as Don Brash’s staff might, his entire team could not find one legitimate example of the Maori privilege they were claiming existed and instead had to put together a media strategy to throw the media off from realising National couldn’t find examples to back up their emotionally charged claims.

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 TVvisit 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 



  1. I still don’t know why – I thought Brash was just an ignorant old git – a generational thing.

    More important perhaps than learning Te Reo – which there is resistance to anyway – is for the Treaty to be taught in schools, and the early major case law also – some if it is quite humbling for Pakeha; off the top of my head I think the first case which NZ took to the Privacy Council was a Treaty land issue.

    We need to know of land specifically gifted by Maori for specifically eg education and health purposes.

    A dedicated task force visiting schools – and sending Pakeha to Pakeha schools – could be the best way of ensuring that it is done properly, esp when we can’t always rely on media content.

    • Christine: “A dedicated task force visiting schools – and sending Pakeha to Pakeha schools – could be the best way of ensuring that it is done properly, esp when we can’t always rely on media content.”

      When I was in Canterbury almost 30 years ago, there was a very good group – pakeha people – doing this sort of thing in workplaces. I recall that Robert Consedine was heavily involved in it. My recollection of those workshops was that, although Consedine was a brilliant facilitator, there were people in the group who weren’t going to change their views, no matter how much countervailing information they got. (I’m reminded of that stubborn clinging to deeply-held biases whenever I read and attempt to challenge the rabid anti-Russian crap posted on Left-wing blogsites!)

      Almost 50 years ago, as a young adult, I learned te reo. Over the intervening years, I’ve read as many books on the colonisation of NZ as I could. So: I am reasonably well-informed on the topic, though I’ve never studied the history of NZ.

      I used to think that teaching NZ history in schools would be a useful way of giving young people an unvarnished view of what actually happened in the past. However, when I discussed this with a history teacher at our local high school, she told me that the children just weren’t interested in NZ history, and they couldn’t be persuaded to take such a course. And – regrettably – so it proved with our own offspring. That was a few years ago, and maybe things have changed. Nowadays, we have no involvement with high schools.

      I now think that – absent compelling children to study NZ history – there’s not much that can be done to change public perceptions. No percentage in lecturing people and inducing guilt: demographically, NZ is a vastly different place from what it was even 30 years ago. All those migrants from all over the world aren’t necessarily interested in our history. Even those of us who are pakeha and born here: none of us now alive is responsible for the large-scale land theft, or the evils of colonisation. For most of us, our ancestors arrived after that stage. Making people feel guilty tends to induce resentment. And that’s not a path down which any of us wants to go.

  2. Anecdotally, Doug Graham MP did an outstandingly good job speaking to Working Men’s clubs and similar social organisations about the Treaty and Maori land issues. He could move strong men to tears.

    That was a while back, and if his good work is being deliberately negated by Brash, yes, that is evil.

  3. Brash is just an angry old white man, looking back at a life of abject failures, that is why he tries to leave a poison heritage, he is full of anger and hatred, and wants to stamp this sentiment onto the people of Aotearoa NZ.

    “Shortly after the delivery of the Orewa speech, Brash fired his Māori Affairs spokesperson Georgina te Heuheu because she would not publicly support his speech.

    After the February peak, National suffered a steady decline in public opinion polls, leaving it 11 points behind Labour at the end of 2004.

    In 2004, following a political speech given by the Prime Minister Helen Clark inside the Christchurch Cathedral, Brash wrote to the Dean of the Cathedral, Peter Beck. In his letter he criticised Clark’s use of a church-venue for delivering a political speech, and he raised questions over her views on religion and on the institution of marriage. After Clark retaliated, Brash apologised for any offence that his comments had caused to her, and revealed that his Chief of Staff, Richard Long, had written the letter, not Brash himself.”

    More on The Brash here:

    A TOTAL failure of a hopeless, anger filled political character that still gets too much MSM attention, where nothing much should be accorded to the beast of evil.

  4. Great post. But Brash is pretty much a dinosaur in people’s eyes and few outside of government and media remember the Orewa speech. By constantly referring to it, the left and Maori then give him a platform. Wouldn’t it be easier to just give a few statistics about Maori and just ignore Brash aka

    Maori lost 95% of their land in less than a century.
    Land (site cases) was confiscated by the state without payment or Maori land given for public use aka schools were taken by the state and used for other things, very late into the 20th century.

    Leave Brash out of it and go straight to the statistics, modern media is all about the soundbyte. Maori or the leftie protesters should be using them in this debate about “Maori privilege” not calling Brash names and regenerating his supporters!

    Instead of worrying about Brash, Maori should be getting nervous how close they were to losing the Maori seats, aka if NZ First could not be persuaded Maori seats may have been gone by lunch time, and that is probably the jewel in the Natz and Brash long term strategy.

    When Key refused to attend on Waitangi Day that was that a sign he could not be bothered pretending any longer? The Maori party had served their purpose and since he was leaving politics why bother making any effort?

    So I wouldn’t be worrying about Brash’s speech 13 years ago, when there is a larger threat from 1 year ago at the election when Maori democracy was in real trouble if someone had wanted to destroy the Maori seats.

    Maori are no longer the 2nd largest demographic in NZ. Probably soon they will not even be the 3rd largest demographic, therefore their vote is declining in power apart from the Maori seats. Most Maori have been forced from richer parts of Auckland already with racial cleansing by rising cost of living.

    Lose Maori seats, and Maori are in real trouble and that should be what Maori are worried about, not Brash or manufactured iwi vs kiwi.

    Most of our main companies are now sold offshore, commercial real estate, farms and industry are increasingly overseas owned so is the race debate of Kiwi vs iwi, a current issue or is there a new treaty issue of what happens when assets are sold offshore, should Maori expect half partnership of those natural resources and still own 50%?

    Maori apparently have 15% of the economy, so it is not all bad news for Maori. There is a lot to do, but I personally feel, that a focus of Kiwi and Iwi working together to grow NZ, create an unpolluted, fair and equal society which was supposedly the original intention of the treaty, might more be a winner for the long term benefit of NZ children, rather than calling Brash names and giving him a platform.

    Face it, from being worried about being tenants in our own country, after the Natz a few years later, a significant amount of people are not even able to afford to be tenants in our own country! What’s next, not being able to afford power or water in our own country???

    Also building more houses is doing nothing because people can’t afford them who live in NZ on NZ wages in many cases. Here is an example of what happened under the Auckland unitary plan where they took zoning from 10 acres to 400m2 sections – this is trickle down, aka there is no trickle down it’s a fraud. They have doubled the prices of the housing in the area while decreasing the land, adding congestion, more rates, higher petrol taxes and more debt for people who live in the area, as well as building a new high school with taxpayer money, but sadly many who used to live or rent in Auckland can’t afford to live there anymore! Former residents paid taxes for years, only to be forced out so that neoliberalism 2.0 can be realised.

  5. We might have a National/NZF/ACT coalition next General Election 2020 then they can get rid of them ?

  6. Very disturbing where NZ has gone over the last 40 years with the “Neoliberal Experiment” which has gone horribly wrong.

    Milton Friedmand’s Economic Theories from the Chicago School of Economics have been an unmitigated disaster here in New Zealand, introduced by the Labour Government under David Lange & Roger Douglas in 1884.

  7. Maori the te tangata whenua here in New Zealand are the only ones who genuinely care about New Zealand ?

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