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Civil war fears in New Zealand as Maori party declares political independence and co-leader’s wife posts ‘overthrow the government’ video

New Zealand’s Maori Party has issued a declaration of political independence, days after the wife of one its co-leaders posted a rant which critics say was seditious and pushing the country to the brink of civil war.

Kiri Tamihere-Waititi, the daughter of Maori Party president John Tamihere and husband of co-leader Rawiri Waititi, earlier this week posted a video on social media where she called on one million Maori to unite, saying: “We could overthrow any government. We could do whatever the fuck we wanted”.

Kiri Tamihere-Waititi and father John Tamihere
Kiri Tamihere-Waititi and her Maori Party president father John Tamihere (Facebook)

Don Brash, from lobby group Hobson’s Pledge, described Ms Tamihere-Waititi’s video as worrying, and said he could not remember a time when racial rhetoric “danced so close to outright sedition”.

“There are far too many ill-informed Kiwis who still think that this is about righting the wrongs of the past. These naive folks are enabling a minority of radicals to advance a race-based power grab that is not far at all from refusing to recognise the authority of our current government,” he wrote in a message to supporters on Thursday.

“[Maori Party] supporters are turning out in droves to spread their messages of division and racism. We can’t sit back and let them drive us to the brink of civil war. We’ve seen this overseas and it always seems unthinkable until it happens.

“I was hesitant to speak in such frank terms. To even say out loud the words ‘sedition’ or ‘civil war’ feels like madness. However, we have a group of powerful radicals challenging the authority of our democratically elected Government and it is plain to see they won’t stop pushing the boundaries until enough of us get brave enough to say ‘no’.

Destiny Church leader and political activist Brian Tamaki, who is Maori, responded in a similar manner to Mr Brash in an X post on Thursday, saying the Maori Party should be declared a terrorist organisation.

“Rawiri is calling for Civil War. He wants to militarise a Māori Movement, creating a Civil War Army. Te Pāti Māori is agitating radicals towards a Civil War in NZ,” he wrote.

“This is weaponising a whole generation of racial militants and must be halted in its tracks.”

Maori Party demonstrators gathered in cities across New Zealand on Thursday, and in the capital Wellington MP Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke told a crowd: “We’re on the edge of revolution”.

Outside parliament Mr Waititi echoed his wife’s comments, stating: “This House set out to exterminate us 100 years ago. They failed. We are 20 per cent of the population. We are one million strong.”

After the protests the party issued a Declaration of Political Independence, asking all Maori and all other New Zealanders to sign.

“The Declaration ‘Te Ngākau o Te Iwi Māori’ proclaims the following: To assert Māori sovereignty as affirmed and protected in He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, te iwi Māori shall establish its own parliament, which will be: anchored in our tikanga and kawa; focussed entirely on mokopuna livelihood; established as part of transforming Aotearoa into a nation which respects the tino rangatiratanga of tangata whenua, and creates a safe home for all peoples,” the declaration read.

The Maori Party won just 3.08% of the popular vote in the 2023 election, but holds six seats – all Maori electorates, a special category where only those of Maori descent can vote.

Maori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi
Maori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi at an event in April last year (Facebook)

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