Don Brash cops backlash after standing against Māori wards in Tauranga, which will hold referendum

Source: 1News

Former National Party leader Don Brash is facing backlash over his stance on Māori wards after he attended a meeting in Tauranga to say they should be abolished. 

He was speaking at an event today set up after Tauranga City Council voted to establish Māori wards next year. 

"To my mind, having Māori wards — which would create wards where Māori only could vote — is a bad step,” he said.

Protestors holding placards and singing in protest argued with Brash as he backed those opposed to one in Tauranga. 

"There's a whole different attitude coming through from the youth, which is nowhere near what these old dinosaurs and fossils are up to and I'm encouraged by that,” said iwi leader Buddy Mikare.

In August last year, the council agreed to establish a Māori ward for the next election, and while that was welcomed by those in attendance, some challenged that decision and started a petition.

The petition has reached nearly 5000 signatures, hitting the five per cent threshold, sparking a referendum which will cost the city more than $200,000.

Today's large crowd was split on the issue, with debate likely to be taken through to next year's local elections.