Mud thrown at Brash at marae

10.12am - By IAN STUART

National Party leader Dr Don Brash walked away from Te Tii Waitangi marae this morning after he was showered with mud and hit in the face with a clod thrown by protesters.

Dr Brash was preparing to walk on to the marae and ask about the media ban which prevents mainstream media from going on to the marae.

When Dr Brash and fellow National MP John Carter heard the ban was still in place, Dr Brash said he would not go through the gate.

As he stood there discussing the issue with Ngapuhi kaumatua, he was showered with mud thrown by a young protester inside the marae ground.

Dr Brash turned to speak to the media and during an interview, was hit in the face by a clump of mud.

"Not a bad shot," quipped Dr Brash as he wiped the mud from his face.

Dr Brash said he was very disappointed that he could not go on to the marae and talk about issues facing Maori, particularly after comments from his recent speech in Orewa.

"I would like to have heard their concerns. I would like to have made my position clear," he said.

"No way am I anti-Maori, no way am I racist, no way am I Maori bashing," Dr Brash told the media, who were not allowed on to the marae, during an impromptu press conference outside the marae.

Dr Brash said he refused to go on to the marae because of what he termed a "racially imposed ban on the media".

Earlier today a Maori warden told gathered media "anybody" was allowed on to the marae but they were not to have cameras, tape recorders or note pads.

Security is heavy around the bottom of Te Tii Waitangi marae with numerous plain-clothes and uniformed police.

Inside the marae grounds, several activists erected banners urging the Government to honour the Treaty of Waitangi.

On flagpoles at the marae entrance were flying flags of the Maori sovereignty movement and Federation of Maori Chiefs.

As Dr Brash spoke outside the marae he was called a "dirty racist" and subjected to other taunts.

Before he arrived there was relatively little activity around the marae.

Dr Brash and fellow National MPs Lockwood Smith, John Carter and Wayne Mapp walked up through the front entrance accompanied by five or six plain -clothes policemen.

During a brief discussion, they were surrounded by more media than protesters, but the mud-throwing began within seconds, from a young protester standing two to three metres inside the marae.

More mud was thrown, showering the media, police, politicians and Dr Brash at the entrance.

Dr Brash said those who threw the mud did not understand the issues.

"I guess it reflects a concern people have. They don't understand. I would like to have been engaged in constructive conversation with them.

"Mud throwing is not the way for New Zealand to advance to the future."

Dr Brash said he still wanted to meet elders to discuss the issues facing Maoridom.

"I am open to listen as well as to express my own view and those of the National Party, but at this stage at least, it doesn't look like it is going to happen this morning."

He said it was matter of great regret that he did not go onto the marae as that was out of his control.

He said marae protocol should allow frank and full discussion.

National's MP for Northland John Carter said many Northland kaumatua were very worried that the marae tradition of welcoming people onto the marae before the dialogue began was not being followed at Te Tii.

Mr Carter said they were worried at the negative reflection on Northland Maori today's incident would create.

"A number of them are quite concerned about the fact there can't be the normal convention of dialogue and exchange of views," Mr Carter said.

He said many people including Maori had not had the chance to hear what Dr Brash had said on Maori issues, and the National leader wanted that opportunity today.

- NZPA


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