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Maori need to meet a 'benchmark' - Peters

Published: 8:21PM Thursday September 13, 2012 Source: ONE News

The New Zealand First leader wants a benchmark put in place before Maori are able to access benefits and payouts.

Winston Peters said the Government needs a benchmark if people are going to ask for entitlements or make claims to natural assets on the basis of race.

The call comes as the issue of Maori rights to water are debated in Parliament in the wake of plans to sell off state owned asset companies.

"He seems to be doing backdoor deals with some Maori behind the backs of the mass majority of New Zealanders and if that's the case then why don't we all declare that we are Maori," Peters said.

"What you have got here is a racist, hypocritical way of going about the assets of this country based on ethnic background."

Peters said Maori with only 1 in 512 parts blood could apply for Maori seats since a law change in 1974.

Under current law, New Zealanders can claim to be Maori in the national census or apply to be included in the Maori electorate roll without providing proof of ancestry. But they are required to prove they have a relationship with the iwi if they want to apply for Maori scholarships or special admission criteria.

In the United States, Native Americans use blood quantum measurements to determine who is eligible to be a member of a tribe. Some tribes require claimants to prove 50% of their ancestors were native American, while some only require 6%.

However the idea of a benchmark has outraged some Maori activists.

Waikato University sociologist Tahu Kukutai said blood quantum measurements, where affiliation with a race is based on blood percentage, was "ridiculous and retrograde".

She said there was no scientific basis for measuring a person's race based on blood make-up.

"Blood quantum is a colonial fantasy. There is absolutely no scientific basis or legitimacy to the notion of pure blood races"," said Kukutai.