The redneck race is on, says Maori Party
The smaller political parties are trying to "out-redneck" each other, Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says.
The comment comes as race-based political rhetoric begins to build ahead of the general election in September.
ACT and the Conservative Party are both pushing policies to rid Parliament of its Maori seats, while NZ First says the future of the Maori seats should be put to a referendum.
ACT part leader Jamie Whyte said Maori were legally privileged when it came to Parliamentary representation and input into the Resource Management Act.
"Iwi have a much greater say in what people do with their own property - not iwi property, other people's property - than non-iwi do," he said on Breakfast.
"There are many areas where Maori get guaranteed political representation, they get special rights on account of their race.
"In ACT we believe, and I think everyone believes, that the law should be oblivious to race."
Whyte was standing by claims he made in a speech to the party's conference over the weekend, where he called for a special task force to identify and repeal race-based laws within New Zealand.
The comments come at the same time as NZ First leader Winston Peters has ruled out working with any "race-based" party.
Peters said NZ First would sit in Opposition rather than go into coalition with the Maori Party or Mana.
"We are not going to be in any combination that is race-based," he said yesterday.
"That is with the Maori Party or the Mana Party. We've made it very clear.
"We think that separatism is extraordinarily damaging for this country.
He also dismissed questions about the Conservatives and leader Colin Craig, saying the party was "never a flyer" because it needed a deal with National to have a chance to get into Parliament.
The Conservatives are also pushing a policy of "one law for all".
This morning, Flavell said there were "three parties that almost seem to be trying to out-redneck each other".
"The Conservatives, Mr Peters - who by the way was an advocate of the Maori seats when he held four or five of them - and ACT," he said on Breakfast.
"They're all vying for this redneck sector of the voting community, of which there's not too many."
But Flavell said he had no issue being part of a coalition that included any of those parties, because it was unlikely the Maori Party would deal with them anyway.
"The relationship we have in Parliament is about a [direct] relationship between ourselves - the Maori Party - and the Government of the day, whether that be National or Labour," he said.
Flavell said there was "no doubt" an element of racism was present in the comments of other party leaders, but the rest of the country had moved on.
"The presence of the Maori Party and the presence of a diversity of a range of people in Parliament has allowed us to move on and put those sorts of issues behind us, until elections when all of a sudden the old 'beat up the Maori' rhetoric comes out and the 'privilege' gets rolled out.
"There's no place for it, it's divisive, there's no place for it in the politics of our country and really, I think most fair-minded New Zealanders have moved on."