Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy has let rip at Act Leader Jamie Whyte, labelling his comments that Maori enjoy legal privilege "grotesque and inflammatory" and "incredibly naïve".

Dr Whyte today defended his comment including his assertion that Maori enjoyed a degree of legal privilege comparable to that of the pre-revolutionary French aristocracy.

But in a fiery statement this afternoon, Dame Susan said: "Equating Maori New Zealanders to French aristocrats who were murdered because of their privilege is a grotesque and inflammatory statement."

"Accusations of Maori privilege are not borne out by Maori socio-economic statistics.


"Whether we like it or not the reality is that ethnicity and disadvantage are connected and found in damning statistics that on average sees Maori New Zealanders life expectancy, education and health outcomes lagging behind non Maori New Zealanders," said Dame Susan.

"The connection between ethnicity and disadvantage did not appear overnight and breaking it won't happen overnight either.

"Treating everyone exactly the same will not necessarily make everyone exactly the same and anyone who thinks so is incredibly naïve."

She urged politicians to "do the right thing" during the election campaign, "and stick to those major issues that will help make New Zealand a better place for all our children to grow up in."