Originally published by Māori Television
Days after the party he once led criticised Green Party MPs for speaking at a Mongrel Mob event, Te Ao Mārama can reveal that Don Brash is involved in a new education trust set up by the Mongrel Mob Kingdom.
The Mongrel Mob Kingdom-led Ngaa Whaanau o Maangaru Education and Research Centre was registered as a charitable trust in October 2020, with Brash as a trustee.
One of the purposes of the initiative is to "facilitate whaanau into pathways of learning at all levels".
"All New Zealanders - regardless of race or social background - should have access to education and be equipped with the skills to succeed in education. Gang members and their families are New Zealanders too," Brash said.
"I'm a firm believer that education, whether it's trades training or tertiary study, increases employability and potential earnings.
"Imagine the possibilities for these families … all it takes is for one person in a family to succeed in education for it to have a dramatic effect on the rest of the family."
Brash's appointment comes days after Green MPs Marama Davidson and Dr Elizabeth Kerekere spoke at a conference at the Mongrel Mob Kingdom's Hamilton chapter, which has drawn criticism from National's Simeon Brown and Act leader David Seymour.
Brown told Te Ao Marama yesterday that until the Mongrel Mob give back their guns and "stop peddling meth", no MPs should be engaging with them.
Sonny Fatupaito, leader of the Mongrel Mob Kingdom, said having Brash at the table brought a different perspective.
"He came with an open mind and listened to us. We were able to set aside our philosophical and political differences for the greater cause. After our first day of hui, we found that we have much more in common than we do differences," Fatupaito said.
"It's amazing what can happen when you sit down and engage in dialogue."
The unlikely alliance was organised by Māori researcher and educator Dr Steve Elers.
"My friend Steve Elers called me at around the middle of last year and said 'Don, I'm working with the Mongrel Mob Kingdom to get their guys into education - we need your input'. So here I am," Brash said.
Brash's doctorate was in economics, and he has held adjunct professorships at universities in New Zealand and Australia.
The trust aims to provide education and training under the umbrella of an existing provider, with the goal of becoming a private training establishment (PTE) in its own right.
Fatupaito says that this education initiative is for everyone, not just for the Mongrel Mob Kingdom.
"This is for everyone, especially for those who have struggled in the mainstream education system," Fatupaito said.