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Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson says in his opinion Act leader David Seymour - who he once described as a useless Māori - is the country’s most dangerous man, and if he gets into power will make life a misery for more than Māori.
Jackson said Seymour’s Trump-like rhetoric was anti-Māori and in an instant would wipe out decades of Māori development.
Both were involved in a fiery political debate last night in Auckland.
“I want to say to our people, be very nervous because a National-Act Government will do away with everything that is dear to us. David Seymour’s already threatened that,” Jackson told the Herald.
In his opinion: “I think he’s the most dangerous man that we’ve ever seen in New Zealand politics. He gets away with it because he’s quite articulate, well-dressed.
“This is someone who will challenge and has challenged every High Court and Supreme Court judge who’s been in place since 1987.
“He thinks they’re all wrong. He thinks every Prime Minister since ‘87 is wrong when they agree and talk about partnership between Māori and the Crown.
“He believes that’s nonsense. He is saying that there’s no partnership in the Treaty and wants the Treaty revamped and reshaped. It’s Donald Trump-type politics.”
Seymour said one of Jackson’s oral skills was his ability to exaggerate and Jackson needs to explain what makes him so dangerous.
“People are tired of accusations of racism. It is a very serious accusation and people who make it need to explain what it is that I have ever said or done they believe is racist,” the Act leader said.
“Racism is treating someone differently because of their race. It is a strange irony that we are called racist for criticising Government policies that treat people differently because of their race.
“There are Māori and Pacific people who are doing extremely [well] and there are non-Maori and non-Pacific people who are having problems.”
Following last night’s debate, Seymour contacted the Herald to set a few matters straight.
“The Trump like accusations are ironic considering after the debate Willie Jackson had to correct himself for making incorrect statements about Act Party policies when confronted by journalists,” Seymour said.
“That sounds like Donald Trump to me. The second point from the debate, he said Act and National would be bad for Māori but his own organisation applied to operate a charter school under the National government.
“Plus this says it all, he spent all the debate talking about leader of the Act party rather than the leader of his own party.”
But Jackson said that was Seymour trying to deflect the issue and was still rolling out the same rhetoric and divisive politics, just like Trump when he won the US presidency.
“Trump said the same thing in America and changed the laws,” Jackson said.
“Seymour wants to do the same thing. He wants to rehash, history in terms of the Treaty and rights.
“He doesn’t believe Māori have any rights that are derived from the Treaty.
“And there’s no politician in terms of senior politician in the last 30 years who has had that view.
“There’s no politician who has been Prime Minister, deputy Prime Minister or senior minister who has agreed with him, not one politician apart from one - and that is Winston Peters.
“And that’s the ironic thing, isn’t it?
“They call them special rights. We know their Treaty rights, their indigenous rights.
“They, every judge, every court, every prime minister, every senior minister has supported and agreed with [it], including the Act Party.
“Rodney Hide went on and actually agreed to set up the Māori statutory board, that was a Rodney Hide creation.
“So they’ve all, they’ve all supported it. But this guy Seymour says, no, I’m gonna give everybody the same rights and Māori will not have those rights anymore.
“And I’m saying to our people to vote because if not, we let Seymour with his anti-Māori politics and his views into power.”
Joseph Los’e joined NZME in 2022 as Kaupapa Māori Editor. Los’e was a chief reporter, news director at the Sunday News newspaper covering crime, justice and sport. He was also editor of the NZ Truth and prior to joining NZME worked for 12 years for Whānau Waipareira.