Barry Soper: 15 years on, Don Brash returns to Waitangi

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 5 February 2019, 6:32AM

COMMENT:

It was a hot and sticky night with far too many people crammed into a small hall in Orewa, north of Auckland. It was 15 years ago last week that Don Brash rose to speak, using an autocue which seemed out of place at the Rotary Club.

Brash was the leader of the National Party and gave a speech entitled Nationhood which saw his opinion poll ratings soar and the following year saw him taking National from its worst ever defeat under Bill English two years earlier, to almost beating Helen Clark.

Less that a fortnight after giving the speech Brash was at Waitangi Day commemorations and was pelted with mud as he made his way onto Ti Tii Marae, not to speak but to find out why the mainstream media had been banned.

As the mud hit him in the face, Brash quipped that it wasn't a bad shot.

Today he'll be back at the same marae firing his own shots, telling Māori how to lift their economic well-being and he doesn't see that coming from the hundred million bucks about to be handed out to develop Māori land, left fallow because there are so many owners involved in one block and it's difficult to get agreement.

It's an area where banks fear to tread, essentially because it's too risky, so the Government's stepping up to the plate believing it can make the land productive.

The former Reserve Bank Governor believes there should be a better way of reducing the risk rather than simply coughing up money to suddenly and miraculously make the land productive, and currently 80 per cent of it isn't.

He'll also be talking about Treaty settlements which National's been much more active in achieving than Labour's ever been.

Brash argued in his Orewa speech that injustices done to Māori have to be put right and the Treaty process is about acknowledging that and making a gesture of recompense, but he insisted it should be nothing more than that.

Controversially he argued that none of us were around at the time of the New Zealand wars and therefore we didn't have anything to do with the confiscations. There's a limit, he said, as to how much any generation can apologise for the sins of its great grandparents.

The Treaty, he said, didn't create a partnership, it was the launching pad for the creation of one sovereign nation.

And of course that's what we should be celebrating today and on our national day tomorrow. Māori deserve credit for their willingness to listen to all points of view which of course hasn't always been the case on the Treaty grounds at this time.

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