Former New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters set off a whirlpool of reactions after asserting that Maori people are not native to New Zealand.
Speaking in Nelson during a public meeting, the leader of New Zealand First said:
"Here's the rub if you are Maori. We're not indigenous. We come from Hawai-iki ... go back 5000 years, we came with our DNA from China. Not like 55,000 years in Australia."
Shocked mainstream media reporters questioned the possible "emotional impact" of his remarks, but Peters was unapologetic, stating it was "the truth."
"I am from that background ... we know we’re not indigenous, and we don’t believe in bulldust," he added.
Peters also criticised the 2010 agreement between the National Party and the Maori Party, which endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
The declaration emphasises the dignity, cultural preservation, and self-determination of indigenous people.
Furthermore, he called out Maori healthcare initiatives.
“I don’t want to speak the Maori language when I go to hospital. I want to be fixed up whether I am European or Maori,” he said.
The New Zealand First leader went on to question the Three Waters reforms, alleging the programme aimed "to transfer the water ownership from the heavens to one race in this country – Maori."
The leader’s remarks have left many questioning the mainstream agenda and the broader implications for New Zealand’s indigenous rights discussions.