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Protesters force Don Brash to cut short Waitangi speech

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 5 February 2019, 4:10p.m.

Former National leader Don Brash cut short his speech at Waitangi today just as his speaking area was taken over by protesters carrying a banner opposing racism.

The banner blocked out the stage, obscuring Brash from a crowd which had heckled him from the moment he opened his mouth.

"No doubt some of you regard me as an out and out racist," he said to about 200 people gathered in the main tent on Ti Tii Marae.

"Kia ora," shouted many in the crowd, agreeing with him, while others simply howled derision.

Heeni Hoterene (loudhailer) protests during Don Brash's speech. Photo / Michael Craig

Heeni Hoterene (loudhailer) protests during Don Brash's speech. Photo / Michael Craig

Brash plunged on, starting with te reo and his questioning views around the value of the language.

He was not opposed to the language, he said. "I wish I spoke more of it," he said.

"So do we," came a clear voice from the crowd.

Regardless, he said he supported Maori Television.

"How generous of you," came a voice, with more catcalls.

Brash continued to confront te reo, and the value of English over other languages, and the objections from the crowd got louder.

Then one woman turned on a megaphone and Brash was silenced, shut down as she drew a rousing rebellion from the crowd.

Reuben Taipiri, who invited Brash, took over the stage and called for people to give Brash a chance.

They did, briefly, but the onslaught came again and Brash wilted.

"Madam, you'll have your chance in a moment," he said.

Heeni Hoterene (loudhailer) protests during Don Brash's speech. Photo / Michael Craig

Heeni Hoterene (loudhailer) protests during Don Brash's speech. Photo / Michael Craig

She wasn't waiting. No one was waiting for Beash to finish. Often, he barely got a chance to start.

And then he stopped. The banner came and Brash found himself blocked out by the word "racism", drawn large.

Then Brash sat there while everyone else had their turn.

The words wore different but the message was much the same as the banner.

"No room for racism," they said, one after another.

And Brash listened.

 

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