Don Brash returned to Orewa tonight to give another speech on a familiar theme - separatism and Maori privilege in New Zealand law - but this time he is putting the boot into National.

He rejects the notion of the Treaty of Waitangi as a "partnership", as has been established in common law since the Lands case in 1987.

He says Maori are gaining a "constitutional preference" through the Maori seats and by giving tribal appointees the right to have a role in local-government decisions.

"All racism is racist, no matter which race benefits," Brash said.

Advertisement

"But 13 years on, racism still rules the roost.

"The push for privilege persists and our politicians still pander to it.

"Inch by inch, step by step they have created islands of influence and positions of power - for one race only."

Brash gave several summer speeches at Orewa as National leader and has given several since.

But his 2004 Orewa speech on racial separatism led to a surge in National's poll ratings, much of which was sustained through to the 2005 election, which he almost won.

This time, he spoke as spokesman for a group called Hobson's Pledge, a group campaigning against any preferences given to Maori in the name of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Brash said the signing of the treaty created equal rights for Maori and Pakeha.

"We reject absolutely the notion that the treaty created different rules and different right for those with a Maori ancestor and those without."

He said those who built New Zealand were determined to put rank, status and privilege behind them. They wanted it to be a land of equals.

"We cannot abolish privilege by creating privilege. By agreeing to do so, our politicians are creating a new injustice and poisoning our future."

Brash said Prime Minister Bill English had committed to abolishing the Maori seats in 2003, as had John Key in 2008, but the Government had "quietly abandoned" any such suggestion.

And while National had sped up the resolution of historic treaty grievances, the process "too often involves granting not just financial redress but also so-called 'co-governance', giving unelected tribal appointees the right to have a decision-making role in local government."

Hobson's Pledge - named after Governor Hobson's statement "we are now one people" - has not endorsed any political party.

But Brash has spoken more positively about New Zealand First's Winston Peters than other parties.

He and co-spokesperson Casey Costello, who also spoke at Orewa, urged voters to challenge candidates in the September 23 election about their views on race-based rights.

Costello, of Nga Puhi and Anglo-Irish descent, said Hobson's Pledge was seeking to make it okay "to speak out and tell our Government to roll back their policies that are creating an apartheid state."

The group supported addressing "legitimate" Treaty of Waitangi claims.

"But we aren't moving forward while we are constantly looking behind.

"When you tell anyone that their economic prosperity will be handed to them through a settlement, what better way is there to demotivate any individual from standing up and being accountable for themselves, their family and their community."

Brash said this evening that Hobson's Pledge had not yet endorsed any party "but that might change."