Orewa Rotary Club and race were once more back on the menu.

But this time a powhiri started proceedings and Maori dominated the audience.

Maori Party candidate Hone Harawira pointedly used the Orewa Rotary Club yesterday to launch an attack against National and Labour who he said were using Maori as a political football. Maori were being "kicked harder and harder" by both parties as they clambered for the Pakeha vote.

Orewa was revived in the political vocabulary in February last year, after years of relative quiet since former Prime Minister Rob Muldoon's days, when Don Brash launched his one law for all policy credited with sending National surging up the polls.

Last month he repeated the speech, decrying special treatment for Maori, and included a pledge to axe the Maori seats, and remove references to the Treaty of Waitangi from legislation in Whangarei.

Yesterday was different. Unlike at past meetings the audience at the Orewa club was not made up of white businessmen and wealthy retirees. Club spokesman Frans Geruts distanced the club from Mr Harawira's meeting, and said the room had just been rented for the day. The speech was well received by the more than 300 mainly Maori Party supporters, and Harawira family members who attended the meeting.

Mr Harawira, standing against Labour's Dover Samuels in Te Tai Tokerau, called for greater respect for Maori culture, and more than lip service to the concept of partnership enshrined in the Treaty of Waitangi.

He also repeated concerns among Maori to proposals to remove the Maori seats without their approval.

"These are not the rantings of the violent, the radical, or the revolutionary. They are the concerns of the measured and conservative voices within Maoridom ... if they are to be ignored it is at this nation's peril."

He echoed the words of native American leader Geronimo.

"It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees," he said.

He urged greater understanding among Maori and Pakeha.