GUEST BLOG: Willie Jackson – How you respond to Don Brash


There is an enormous amount of online anger about Don Brash speaking at Waitangi this year. On July 2017, I gave a speech at the very same Rotary Club Don Brash gave his infamous Orewa Speech at. 

This is how we should respond to Brash.

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 


Willie Jackson is the Minister for Employment


  1. Agree Willie, Brash is a manipulative, dishonest, slimy person, can’t be trusted.

    Agree, Maori and Pakeha together. Not only kindness in togetherness, but necessity for progress/survival. I see this in a world without capitalism.

  2. Why are we still bothering with Brash?
    Should he not be in a retirement home somewhere.
    Time to move on from old outdated politicians.

    • Hmmm… beside the fact that this appears to be a singular isolated incident which you evidently hope counts as some kind of vindication of the Orewa speech, the perpetrators are not even identified as Maori.
      Clearly more than ever these days, face-value facts hold about as much value as a dollar in the Auckland housing market.

        • You “know them”?

          You seem to “know” a lot of people Andrew. Including all the stare house tenants. Kinda convenient so you can justify your prejudice because, you know, you “know” them.

          I call bullshit.

      • So what their names Andrew? You seem to want to share us your enlightenment about Maori shooting at people (white) on a beach what stopping you from revealing their names?

        I call Bullshit aswell.

  3. “reaped a 17 point jump in the polls.” Sadly, this is the old white people (not all!) syndrome at work and it’s still very much alive today from what I can see. Bloody disturbing, and probably mainly National voters that are bloody minded, selfish and greedy. Good luck Willie trying to change that lot.

    • +1

      Had National suffered a 17% DROP in polling after Brash’s odious speech, it would have shown us at our best. But the 17% rise showed us how far we have to go as a society. It was New Zealand’s low point in Pakeha-Maori relations.

  4. That comment ‘The greatest lie Brash spoke was that Maori want to be separate’ does seem a bit hypocritical from someone who is in a ‘Maori caucus’. A caucus specific to one race only, not one fo ALL the people.

  5. In the final analysis separatism is just breeding failure and hatred.

    The people who will suffer most are the supposed beneficiaries of it – Maori

    • Hey Andrew, your “concern” for Maori would be better placed if you supported the return of their land illegally confiscated by white colonists.

      Just saying.

      Carry on.

      • Actually yes.

        Article 2 of the treaty allows for willing buyer/seller sales of land. The whole point of the settlement process is to make amends for those land transfers that were not done in that manner.

        So what I’m saying is complete the last settlement and then move on. Disestablish the entire grievance industry, stop people trying to reinterpret the treaty to suit their own ends and abide by Articles 1 & 3. That is:

        1. All Authority is ceded to the Crown

        3. Treat Maori as equal citizens of our fair country

        Today’s Maori are perfectly capable of making their way in our society and most do. To suggest anything else is, well, racist.

  6. I don’t understand why Don Brash was invited to speak at Waitangi in the first place. Because it’s obvious what his rabid opinion is of Maori/Pakeha relations!

    Brash is a bigot from the old school of thought, where white men and white men only rule supreme, not brown skin people, not women, just white men, no questions asked! And while that festering sore of an attitude remains, there will be no progress in race relations in this country!

    • There are plenty of old white men getting bossed around by old white women, Mary. They are just as bad, maybe even worse with the attitude towards brown people and anyone who is poor, no sympathy and all that.

  7. All very heroic but on a day like this I’m reminded of the lyrics in a song written by the late great John Lennon, “gimmie some truth”.

    We are a nation of liars, we lie about who we are, how we got here & how things are today. What’s really painful though is that we don’t even know we’re doing it most of the time.

    If we’re really honest with ourselves then we’d see that NZ has the potential to be extraordinarily great, but the reality is we live in an insular, uninspiring, moronic, intellectual wasteland that’s being held back by decades of unresolved racial tension.

    The only way we’ll defuse the racial powder keg that threatens to explode & tear our country to pieces is through the formation of something like a truth & reconciliation commission.

    Only then will be able move on from the stifling stagnation that is distracting us from realising our visionary destiny, which is to lead the world safely into a sustainable post-globalisation era. The Prophet of Zealandia, Wiatangi day 2019

  8. Get unemployed Maori working for decent salaries/wages on those fishing boats, Willie, like the architects claimed to intend to be doing in the first place.

  9. Its the SAME , every year, isn’t it.
    Don Brash is another Bankster . Arch Enemy .

    Psst. Meanwhile, LET US NO FORGET THAT MAORI were in tribes & inter -tribe massacres & head hunters (cannibals ), so no praise to them for(some of) their culture.
    Evolution required that Maori required evolving.

    HOWEVER we became a BI-Cultural union in the end.
    And it was truly fine..
    UNTIL 1980s “Economic Restructuring” & “Globalism”

    And now NZ is NOT NZ KWI anymore!!!
    And NOW THE F***ing Corporate owned MEDIA is stirring up “racism” !!!!

  10. Personally I always thought the Onewa speech just proved how much of a liberal Brash was. That liberalism will do, or say anything to stay the dominant ideology. And if that means screwing over Maori – then it will do it. If it means siding with the most vicious and nasty authoritarians – then it will do it.

    As an ideology Liberalism is

    Narcissistic, and

  11. He’s a known race-baiter and has nothing new to add. One only gets so much life out of a keyboard, why waste those strokes on him!

    Waitangi seems to have gone off without a hitch – though news coverage was pretty dismal this year. When Don Brash is the best news story the media can conjure to court controversy, it’s time to hand out some pink slips.

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