'Genuineness of who we are' - Paula Bennett speaks out after being accused of being 'not Māori enough'

National deputy leader Paula Bennett has spoken out about the "genuineness" of being Māori after she was accused of being "not Māori enough".

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The National deputy leader said she felt the “genuineness” of who she was despite being unable to speak the language. Source: Breakfast

It comes after she accused the Employment Minister Willie Jackson last week of launching a "racist taunt" in the House, and accused him of labelling her "not Māori enough."

"Paula Bennett, she doesn't know if she's a Māori. Some days she does and some days she doesn't," Mr Jackson had said at the time.

Speaking to TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning, Ms Bennett said, "I’m accused of having a fake tan on a daily basis because I'm brown, you know? And people don’t always just associate that with being Māori."

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The broadcaster says she herself had to independently learn her own culture, and found it intimidating at times. Source: Breakfast

"I was urbanised. I know how I am. I am proud of being Māori, and there are thousands like me that can't speak the language and do feel a little embarrassed, actually, about having grown up with that disconnection but feel that genuineness of who we are, and so that's where it kind of came from for Willie the other day," she said.

NZ First MP Shane Jones added that he "personally would never say that", despite "speaking the language just like I speak English."

"Willie is a walking megaphone, and I personally don’t go round saying that," Mr Jones said on TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.

"I've taught our seven kids and the mokopuna, but they’ve got to make their own journey and look, we’ve actually got to normalise it and rehabilitate our sense of pride," he said.