By SUE EDEN, 27 September 2006 – National leader Don Brash has been accused of using the same argument against Maori that was used in the United States in the 1700s when black people were denied civil rights.
Dr Brash said in the Herald on Sunday that there were “few, if any” full-blooded Maori left.
“There are clearly many New Zealanders who do see themselves as distinctly and distinctively Maori but it is also clear there are few, if any, fully Maori left here. There has been a lot of intermarriage and that has been welcome.”
Dr Brash had been asked to comment on a speech by High Court judge David Baragwanath which raised the possibility that Maori might need separate legal treatment and highlighted the lack of Maori in the legal profession, the Herald on Sunday said.
Dr Brash said the judge continued to talk “as if the Maori remain a distinct indigenous people”.
The comments riled Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia who said Dr Brash had a “crack” at Maori every time his leadership was in trouble.
The National Party leader had questioned the need for Maori television, stated National would abolish the Maori seats in Parliament, and had questioned the need for Maori doctors, Mr Horomia said.
“Now he is suggesting that Maori are not a distinct indigenous people and made comments that there are `few if any fully Maori left here’.
Mr Horomia said he was tired of Dr Brash’s “extreme rhetoric” when it came to Maori.
Yesterday Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples, in a speech at Orewa – where Dr Brash made his infamous one law for all race relations speech – said he was horrified by Dr Brash’s comments.
Dr Brash was perpetuating the concept of “blood quantum” for political gain, Dr Sharples said.
“The concept of blood quantum (literally degree of blood) can be traced back to the United States in 1705 when the colony of Virginia denied civil rights to any negro, mulatto or Indian – and of course the rest is history,” Dr Sharples said.
“This concept of dividing our blood into parts – how Maori are you – flies in the face of one of our strongest values, the concept of whakapapa, our genealogy.”
Dr Sharples said the “flaws” in the blood quantum theory included that a politician could dictate whether a person was or was not Maori, created a negative judgement about the impact of inter-marriage, and “most disturbingly” guaranteed the extinction of Maori.
“By this standard, indigenous nations vanish when a certain blood threshold is reached and white becomes the default identifier.”
That had happened in the United States where identity based on blood quantum was legislated for and led to the elimination of individuals from their tribal origins and status as indigenous people.
It had also led to different “classes” of Hawaiians, Dr Sharples said.
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