Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has defended the close — and, in some places, word-for-word — similarities between his Waitangi speeches last year and this year.
Keen-eared viewers noticed some segments in Monday’s speech, when the Government were welcomed, appeared to be repeated verbatim from then-Leader of the Opposition Luxon’s 2023 speech.
However, Luxon rejected any assertion that his speech was simply a cut-and-paste job.
“I really enjoyed Waitangi,” Luxon told Breakfast this morning. “It was a chance, in that speech… to talk about our vision of where we’re going as a country for 2040.
“Yes, there were extracts of my speech that were the same from last year in 2023 — that was deliberate.
“It’s important to have a consistency of message, and particularly given some of the misinformation and misunderstanding around the Treaty and what it means for us. I thought it was important to express it again as Prime Minister.”
Asked whether he should have had new content to draw from, Luxon said he did.
“We spent a lot of time talking about 2040 and what that could look like as a country,” he said.
“And then importantly, what are the priorities for this Government in the next three years to actually drive towards that vision?
“But also, I think what was trying to do is make sure that people understood that I’ve got a consistent position on the Treaty and what it means to me, and I think what it means to the country.
“Explaining that arc of our history from 1840 through to today and then out to 2040 was really the purpose of the speech.”
He acknowledged some phrases were exactly the same.
“I actually want people to understand, as Prime Minister now, exactly what I believe on the Treaty.
“The Treaty is our past, present and future, it is not for changing.”
Controversy swirls over Government’s plans
Luxon’s speech this year came at a time of heightened tensions between Māori and the Crown.
National’s coalition partners ACT and New Zealand First, led by David Seymour and Winston Peters respectively, have shared in criticism aimed at the Government’s policies affecting te ao Māori.
“We’re not changing any aspect of the Treaty,” Luxon stressed this morning. “We’re not changing any aspects of Treaty settlements.
“I think the Treaty is something to be respected, it’s our foundational document, it’s sacrosanct and it’s not for changing.”
ACT’s controversial Treaty Principles Bill — seeking to review the Treaty’s principles to allow “mana for all” — has been a lightning rod for criticism of the Government’s approach to Māoridom.
“Yes, it’s causing some tension,” Luxon conceded.
“It was a bottom line for the ACT Party… We came to a compromise, which is to support it to first reading.
“We won’t be supporting it beyond that.”