A protest against co-governance led by Julian Batchelor, a prominent figure in the movement, has ended, with police saying there were no issues.
About 300 people marched from Civic Square to parliament in Wellington today, according to a police press release, and they have now departed parliament grounds. About 45 police were on duty to manage traffic and keep the protesters and participants in a counterprotest apart.
Stuff reports about 600 people took part in the counterprotest, and chanted “No to racism, no to hate, Julian is not your mate”. Their singing of ‘Tūtira mai ngā iwi’ largely drowned out Batchelor’s attempts to speak on parliament grounds, according to the report.
In an interview that swung from jovial to furious and back again, Winston Peters joked about National leader Christopher Luxon’s claim not to know him, and denied his party was responsible for race-baiting that’s led to an escalation in vitriol towards Māori.
In an interview on Newshub Nation this morning, Peters was asked by journalist Rebecca Wright whether he knew Luxon. Peters said “who’s that?” before laughing and saying “of course I do”. Peters was responding to Luxon saying “I don’t know him” when asked, during the second leaders’ debate on Wednesday, whether he thought Peters was good or bad.
Peters was also asked about his long-running bad blood with Act leader David Seymour, which he found very amusing, denying he threatened to knock him out in a comment on social media. “It was only a statement, not a threat.” Peters said he would be able to put their differences aside and work with Seymour at the coalition negotiation table.
When Wright raised the home invasion of Te Pāti Māori candidate Hana-Rawhiti Maipi Clarke, which the party says was politically motivated and stemmed from the race-baiting and fear-mongering tactics of right-wing politicians, Peters said, “Stop your lazy journalism, this is a lie. That’s not a real consequence, you just made that up.” He then described Te Pāti Māori as “a bunch of racists and superior people who say they have better DNA than European people”.
As he has in multiple interviews of late, Peter hit out at “elite Māori” and referenced the prominent members of the turn-of-the-20th-century Young Māori Party, Āpirana Ngata, Māui Pōmare, Peter Buck (Te Rangi Hiīoa) and James Carroll, whom he described as “geniuses who agree with me and I agree with them because they’re geniuses”. The Young Māori Party was an organisation dedicated to improving the position of Māori, but their policies have been criticised as assimilationist and, ironically, some believe they generated a division between a small educated elite and the rest of Māori society.
During the interview, Peters again defended NZ First candidate Rob Ballantyne, whose comment was invoked by Labour leader Chris Hipkins during the second leaders’ debate this week as evidence of racism. Peters repeated his refrain that Ballantyne, when saying “we have the courage to cut out your disease and bury you permanently”, was talking about co-governance, not Māori.
Asked for his thoughts on National’s much-criticised foreign buyer tax plan, Peters said “I can’t find an economist that can make their figures work”, saying “people are making promises and they haven’t got the money for it”. “Come on, show me the spreadsheet where this stacks up,” he added.
The interview finished with Wright asking Peters: “At 78, how are you the future?” He was not pleased, responding, “What an ageist, arrogant, elitist statement,” accusing Wright of being bitter. “How sad you descended to that.”