Willie Jackson defends calling Seymour a 'useless Māori'


Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson has doubled down on calling ACT leader David Seymour a "useless Māori".

Jackson on Tuesday made the comment about David Seymour, who is of Ngāpuhi descent, saying Seymour claimed to be Māori but "he's just a useless Māori, that's all".

"Absolutely [he's] Māori but maybe just the most useless advocate for Māori we've ever seen."

He had been responding to questions about ACT's alternative budget, in which it proposes axing the Ministry of Māori Development Te Puni Kōkiri, and whether that could pose a political problem for National.

Jackson on Wednesday told Morning Report he did not regret his comment because, he said, Seymour was a "dangerous politician" whose views must be challenged.

"If me calling him a useless Māori brings to the fore all the useless policies that he's talking about then I'll call him a useless Māori every day.

"He deserves to be attacked, he's attacking the Māori nation," Jackson said, referring to Seymour's public sharing of a priority vaccine code for Māori last year and ACT's alternative budget which proposes abolishing the ministries for Women, Māori Development, Pacific Peoples and Ethnic Communities.

"You're talking about somebody who's wanting to dismantle Māori Development. Māori Development covers our people's lives in terms of housing in terms of economic development in terms of vaccinations.

"We've got the most dangerous politician saying this sort of rubbish at the moment and not being challenged."

Seymour declined to appear on Morning Report, but on Tuesday said Jackson's name-calling was a shame.

"I'm proud of my Māori whakapapa, I'm proud of all of my heritage, and I'm not going to stoop to getting involved with someone like that. Look, Willie Jackson, he's good for a laugh but he's also a good example of why we need more serious people in charge of our government and our country's future.

"In that particular instance he had the opportunity to explain why he thinks Te Puni Kōkiri does add value and should be kept. The fact he's not doing that confirms for me we should get rid of it.

"ACT's alternative budget for real change says we shouldn't have ministries that are there just for a type of person because every ministry should be serving every type of person. But also, just point to those ministries, I very seldom find someone who can point to something concrete that they've done, and when they have, the question is shouldn't the ministry of education or health or environment or any other ministry be taking account of all people anyway?

"I've never got into that sort of culture war politics, I'm interested in effectiveness for the taxpayer dollar. Every ministry should be thinking about every type of human, we shouldn't need whole ministries to represent types of human. If we do we've got much bigger problems and we need to go back to the drawing board and ask why our public services are not diverse and looking after everybody."

Jackson told Morning Report his statement was one line in a five- or ten-minute standup.

"If it's necessary, to bring these types of issues to the fore, then I'll say it every day."

He said the Ministry for Women had had a huge impact in uplifting the lives and wages of women, the Ministry of Ethnic Communities had changed people's lives and the Human Rights Commission was hugely important.

His comments on Tuesday accused Seymour of deliberate dog-whistling, and he said it would have been "untenable" for National to enter a partnership with ACT if it valued its relationship with Māori.

"He's from another time now, Seymour, he's so desperate for votes he'll do anything and say anything to try and attract a right-wing prejudice vote.

"His perspective is no different to [Don] Brash's, he perpetuates lies and myths, he tries to make out that article three rights don't exist, he tries to make out every single person have the same right, and the reality is he's trying to deny that Māori have a Treaty right.

"That Treaty right's not a superior right, it's an equity right - it brings the Pākehā and Māori people together, that's what it's all about."