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Winston Peters Lashes Govt Over Race Relations

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Winston Peters
Winston Peters

By Maggie Tait of NZPA

Wellington, Jan 29 NZPA - Labour leader Phil Goff was accused of playing the race card during a speech last year, but today NZ First leader Winston Peters dealt the whole deck.

In a speech ostensibly about MMP at Auckland University Mr Peters, whose party was not returned to Parliament at the last election, hit out at the Government and Maori Party over the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act.

He also had a go at Maori MP Hone Harawira after remarks he made last year referring to white people as "motherf...ers" and was also unimpressed the Government had agreed for a Maori flag to fly on Waitangi Day.

Mr Peters told the audience of political science students that they probably all remembered the show the Two Ronnies and that Parliament had its own version the Two Hones.

"Hone, of course is Maori for John -- and the two Hones don't give a Heke about who they insult on Waitangi Day," Mr Peters said.

"Sadly that is what our country is being forced to endure over this issue -- extremists and radicals, trying to pass themselves off as moderate and reasonable."

Mr Peters said his party had backed Labour's foreshore and seabed legislation which put the areas in Crown ownership because it guaranteed Maori customary rights.

National had vehemently opposed the bill for the opposite reasons held by the Maori Party, which was formed over the issue, and Mr Peters could not see what compromise could be reached once National repeals the existing law.

He said the Government was delaying the decision for that reason.

"There is no middle ground without one side taking a major hit."

Getting back to the theme of MMP, Mr Peters said there had been an unforeseen outcome of continuing race-based politics.

"Now we have the Maori Party with its separatist agenda with one of its MPs preaching an appalling message of hate against another race."

He criticised the Maori flag agreement.

"In exchange for supporting the destruction of ACC, National has given the Maori Party a day to fly their divisive flag."

In December Mr Key said he was confident a replacement for the Foreshore and Seabed Act would be worked out. He said the decision to allow a Maori flag to fly from public places on Waitangi Day was "about building a harmonious New Zealand in which we respect each other".

In a speech last year Mr Goff said revisiting the legislation would divide Pakeha and Maori, re-open wounds that were healing and he touched on other race issues which prompted critics to accuse him of "playing the race card".

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