The whole Brash/race argument comes down to this:
Brash: We shouldn’t have race based electoral seats or laws because everyone should be equal.
The left: That’s racist.
Brash: Ah, but how can it be racist for me to insist that all races be treated equally?
Brash is right, of course. If we started a new society tomorrow, a blank slate, there would be no race based laws or Maori electorates. The thing is, we’re not a blank slate – we’re New Zealand and we have about 700 years of history preceding Don Brash. The Maori arrived, then Europeans, and they signed the Treaty of Waitangi, and citing the provisions of the treaty Maori were granted seats in Parliament and then the treaty was not honoured, there were land grabs and a civil war with an ambiguous outcome, and over a period of roughly a hundred years Maori became the most disadvantaged members of our society, and then for decades successive governments all agreed that they had been mistreated and introduced various mechanisms to address their grievances.
Then Brash shows up demanding to know why Maori are getting such special treatment: ‘Why can’t we all just be equals?’
Brash’s appeal for equality is based on the idea that we have no history. Nothing happened before now: we just have a bunch of laws that privilege Maori over others, for no apparent reason and so it’s only fair and just that we get rid of them.
And here’s why Brash is a racist – his appeal that we forget our history is restricted solely to our history of race relations. He gave a dozen interviews over ANZAC weekend and while he said plenty about Maori and race and equality he never whispered a word about ANZAC’s historic meaning. He doesn’t appear to have an opinion on why our head of state is a Queen living in a castle on the other side of the world. Those are huge anachronisms if you’re starting from an ahistoric context. But Brash doesn’t care about any of those other issues. He just wants us to ignore our history and then change our society in a highly specific way that disadvantages the members of a single race.
(Update: Reworded the section about the treaty to avoid confusion.)