As the culture wars continue to wage in Wellington, National's deputy leader, Dr Shane Reti has been attempting to rescue fellow MP Paul Goldsmith from widespread condemnation for his views on colonisation.
Over the weekend Goldsmith, who is by trade an historian, controversially claimed colonisation had been on balance, 'good' for Māori.
His comments were made at a time of turmoil for the party with its upper harbour candidate ejected after allegedly impersonating his girlfriend to have cybersex with men online and its longest-serving MP, Nick Smith, stepping aside amid bullying allegations.
Reti says, “He (Paul) was trying to put some of the positive aspects that may have come from colonisation. What he is trying to add is some other aspects to the conversation, so the conversation becomes broad and wide but the position we take is very, very clear. I think that is all that has happened here.”
Although Reti, in his deputy leader role, continues to defend Goldsmith, it’s evident neither he nor leader Judith Collins agrees with Goldsmith’s view of colonisation being on balance, ‘good’ for Māori.
“Judith says without doubt colonisation has harmed many Māori and they have suffered a consequence of it through to today," Reti says.
"Certainly, there have been breaches of the Treaty that have contributed to that and we are trying really hard collectively with Treaty settlements to get some sort of redress to that.”
“You have heard Judith say that there are many Māori who have suffered inequalities right through to today and is still bearing the consequences right from when those actions first happened, right through to today. And that is part of what we need to try and fix. It is hard to imagine anything 'good' with that.”