3 Feb 2019

Don Brash set to return to marae at Waitangi

12:02 pm on 3 February 2019

Fifteen years after having mud thrown in his face at Waitangi, Don Brash is set to return to the marae on Tuesday.

Former National Party leader Don Brash

Don Brash has been invited to make a speech at the lower marae at Waitangi on Tuesday. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The former National Party leader has been invited to make a speech at the lower marae, which will be followed by a panel discussing his views.

A spokesperson for Hobson's Pledge, which is opposed to racial favouritism, Dr Brash said he expects to have his views challenged when speaking at Waitangi.

He said he was surprised organisers would allow him to speak.

"It's very impressive indeed," Dr Brash said.

"I mean, some of our universities don't believe in free speech, quite clearly, but I'm impressed by the fact the marae is willing to have me speak there.

"They, I think, would expect me to say some things with which they would disagree, and I think it's a great testimony to them that they're willing to have someone who they think will disagree with some of their views."

Massey University prevented Dr Brash from speaking at its Manawatū campus last August over fears that the event could lead to violence and hate speech.

Dr Brash initially thought the invitation to speak on the marae might have been a prank.

"I was approached by a member of the marae and asked if I would speak," he said.

"I was not sure initially if that was a kosher invitation or it was someone having a prank, but no, I checked it out and it was clear that they genuinely did want me to speak, so I was delighted to accept."

In 2004, when Dr Brash was National Party leader, he had mud thrown at him while talking to media at Waitangi.

He said that incident was sparked by his insistence on having non-Māori media covering the event.

While Dr Brash has attended Waitangi since then, he admits to some nerves about returning.

"The mudslinging incident I think took place in 2004, from memory. I've been on the marae since that time," Dr Brash said.

"Am I nervous? Well, ever so slightly, yep.

"I would expect some people there will express their strong disagreement with my point of view and that's their absolute right of course."

Dr Brash said he will be speaking on Tuesday, but isn't sure if he's been invited as Don Brash, or as a spokesperson for Hobson's Pledge.

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