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Deputy Prime Minister’s State of the Nation speech sparks outrage

26 March, 2024

Interview by Jessica Hopkins, adapted by Shane Tozier

Jewish activist and Dayenu Co-founder, Justine Sachs, argues Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ comments comparing co-governance to Nazi Germany is “so egregious he should resign”. Image: Wikimedia Commons

During his recent State of the Nation speech, Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First Leader, Winston Peters, compared co-governance in Aotearoa to Nazi Germany. 

His comments were called “anti-Semitic” and “anti-Māori”, by the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand and Labour Party leader, Chris Hipkins. 

Winston Peters has refused to apologise for his comments, and has accused media outlets of “blatant misreporting.”

Jewish New Zealander and Dayenu Co-founder, Justine Sachs, told 95bFM’s The Wire that she is appalled and disgusted by Peters’ remarks.

According to Sachs, the comparison is an “offensive misconstruction of history”.

“To compare something like co-governance to Nazi Germany is a form of Holocaust denial.” 

“It belittles what Nazi Germany was and what it represents to so many people who were impacted by that regime.” 

Sachs believes conflating co-governance with the totalitarian dictatorship led by Adolf Hitler, that killed six million Jewish people, is also ignorant of New Zealand’s history and the impacts of colonialism.

She says attempts to address racial inequities are not the same as forms of racial supremacy.

“Supremacy is about oppressing people, and what we are doing when we try to uphold Te Tiriti is actually healing and repairing from the harms of oppression.”

“To compare it to attempts to make Aotearoa a more equitable and equal place is just really disturbing.”

Sachs worries Peters’ support of Israel means some institutions that claim to represent Jewish people in New Zealand are not strongly opposing his recent comments, falsely positioning the Jewish community against Māori and condoning local instances of anti-semtisim.

“It really concerns me that real anti-semitism is being dismissed because Winston Peters is a big supporter of Israel.”

“Jewish institutions in New Zealand have this focus on defending Israel and the actions of the Israeli government to the detriment of the New Zealand Jewish community.”

Although Luxon has stated he does not agree with Peters’ comments, so far there have been no public repercussions.

Sachs says Luxon should hold Peters accountable and that a lack of consequences is a sign New Zealand is going down the wrong path.

“I would go so far as to say I don't think [Peters] is fit for the role. These comments are so egregious that I think he should resign.”

Listen to the full interview

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air