KIWI OPPOSITION LEADER DUMPS MAORI CRITIC

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 3) - A leading Maori figure has warned New Zealand's opposition leader he will be made unwelcome at a ceremony Friday celebrating an historic national treaty after he stripped his only Maori member of parliament of her Maori affairs portfolio.

National Party leader Don Brash accused spokeswoman Georgina te Heuheu of not supporting party policy after she criticized a controversial speech he made last week on race relations.

In the speech, Dr Brash pledged that a National-led government would end preferential treatment for Maori and stop race-based funding

He argued there was a dangerous drift to racial separatism in New Zealand.

Now, Mr Brash has been warned he is likely to receive a frosty reception if he turns up to celebrations marking the signing in 1840 of the country's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi.

A spokeswoman for the tribe that controls the historic site, Huia Lloyd, said Mr Brash had expressed "very anti-Maori views".

"If he makes himself known there... it won't get ugly, but people will be frustrated with him being there and think it's quite cheeky that he happens to turn up," she said.

National Party deputy leader Gerry Brownlee has been appointed to the role of Maori affairs spokesman.

Mrs te Heuheu may be given another post in the shadow cabinet.

She is being replaced in the portfolio by the National's deputy leader, Gerry Brownlee. February 4, 2004

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

 

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