Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Act leader Jamie Whyte caught short again

ACT Party Leader Jamie Whyte. Photo / Dean Purcell
ACT Party Leader Jamie Whyte. Photo / Dean Purcell

Act leader Jamie Whyte's been caught short once again - this time clueless about Whanau Ora.

In an interview on Maori Television's Native Affairs programme last night, Dr Whyte was quizzed on a range of issues, including the role of the Race Relations Commissioner and the Treaty of Waitangi. When the Government's Whanau Ora programme was brought up, he revealed he had no idea what it was.

"Sorry, I'm showing my ignorance, I don't know what that is," he said.

Whanau Ora, introduced in 2010, distributes Government health and social services funding worth many millions of dollars a year at community level. It is open to all, but has a focus on Maori.

Dr Whyte's admission follows last week's heated media exchange with Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy over his call for an end to special legal recognition of Maori.

In a speech, he took aim at the legislation providing for the Maori electoral roll and Maori seats in Parliament.

After Dame Susan labelled his comments "grotesque and inflammatory", Dr Whyte called for her resignation because she was interfering with the election-year political process.

Last night, he also told Maori Television his party wanted to abolish the office of the Race Relations Commissioner as "we don't think there's any need for that".

In February, shortly after he took the helm at Act, Dr Whyte was left red-faced after admitting "regret" around comments that incestuous relationships between consenting adults should not be illegal.

He initially told the Herald he stood by the comments, which had been published in an article on The Ruminator website.

Less than a day later, he changed his mind.

"I regret the comments, mainly because I feel I let the party down," he told RadioLive.

- NZ Herald

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