Winston Peters accuses Gerry Brownlee of 'politicising' Holocaust memorial

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters is accusing Gerry Brownlee of "politicising" a Holocaust memorial event after the National MP questioned the lack of Kiwi representation there.

The Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem, Israel, is holding the World Holocaust Forum on January 23 to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp where many Jews were imprisoned and murdered. The event, which strives to create awareness about the need to fight anti-Semitism, will be attended by at least 47 world leaders.

However, New Zealand has sent no representative to the event, which Brownlee, National's Foreign Affairs spokesperson says is "disgraceful". 

Minister Peters, however, says the National Party didn't send a political representative to the past two forums in 2010 and 2015.

"Gerry Brownlee's statement is belied by National's past inactions, and it is disappointing to see politicising of such an event," the Foreign Affairs Minister told Newshub.

Minister Peters says the organisers of the forum were focused on this occasion "being a Head of State level event". As the Governor-General could not attend, "we asked organisers if the Speaker or New Zealand's Ambassador to Israel could attend in her place, however this was unfortunately not possible".

He notes that New Zealand is sending our Polish ambassador, Mary Thurston, to an event at the Auschwitz Memorial on January 27. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will also speak on the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Auckland on Monday.

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