Māori MPs defend Don Brash right to free speech

By Moana Makapelu Lee
  • North Island: East Coast

Māori MPs are defending Don Brash’s right to free speech after an event he was due to speak at was cancelled by Massey University in Wellington.

National leader Simon Bridges has condemned Massey University's decision to cancel Brash's event at their Manawatū campus.

"I think it's a disgrace, I think New Zealander's are smart people.  We should be able to make up our own minds about these things.  I think it happening on a university actually makes it doubly disgraceful."

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson says, "I understand the university has a right to cancel, but I'm sure a lot of people would have liked to have heard what he had to say so they could challenge his views."

Labour MP Willie Jackson says, "I don't agree with his views at all- which are often targeted at Māori- but I do believe in free speech."

Brash was due to speak on Tuesday.  However, Vice Chancellor of Massey University Jan Thomas pulled the event, citing security threats after notification by letter from community advocate Karl Pearce.

Pearce says he was just as surprised by the decision.

"All I wanted was for her to be aware that Don Brash was speaking on campus and Don Brash brings with him a message and whether she was aware of that message and whether the University was prepared for the possible fallout for Don Brash's separatist and supremacist rhetoric."

Despite the cancellation Brash says he was encouraged by the support for free speech.

"Right across the political spectrum from the left to the right people have been very supportive of my right to speak freely on Massey campus and very critical of the vice chancellor," says Brash.

Pearce says, "Don Brash has got lots of free speech, he's got free speech coming out of his ears so as far as Don Brash not having free speech that is a complete fallacy and it's farcical."

Brash says his intention was to speak on his time in politics including his time as leader of the opposition.

He will get another opportunity to speak at Auckland University, not on his political career but this time on ‘PC culture’.

Te Kāea reached out to Thomas for comment but did not receive a response.