The government is showing “all the traits of typical white supremacists” in the way it’s rolling back Māori policies, Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says.
She is accusing the National-led government of losing control of its coalition partners and allowing “a backpedalling” of its commitment to te reo Māori.
“So you take the language away from Indigenous people.”
In a statement, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said Ngarewa-Packer’s characterisation of the government was “ridiculous, baseless and we absolutely reject it”.
“The rhetoric is also divisive and unhelpful. The coalition is absolutely focused on improving outcomes for all New Zealanders, Māori and non-Māori, after six years in which the country has gone backwards,” he said.
Finance Minister Nicola Willis told RNZ’s First Up today it was clear the Treaty of Waitangi established a foundational relationship between the Crown and iwi.
She said the government was committed to progressing results for Māori and the relationship that the Treaty of Waitangi promised.
Ngarewa-Packer also made her comments today – the first of three days of celebrations at Rātana with church leaders, iwi leaders and politicians converging on the small Rangitikei village.
Days after the Kiingitanga’s historic nationwide hui, Māori leaders have marked it as a chance to continue the conversations started on Saturday.
Ngarewa-Packer told Morning Report it was an important time for Māori to be unified in the face of a government that was “anti-Māori and displaying all the traits of typical white supremacists”.
The government had also walked away from Māori-designed solutions for health, she said – a reference to the abolition of the Māori Health Authority.
While it had given assurances that there would still be healthcare provisions for Māori, she was among Māori experiencing the impact of the “uncertainty” on what the government’s policies would be.
Māori did not want to be used as “kickboards”, she said.
If the government was committed to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, why was it being put up for debate and being used for leverage, she said.
Asked again about her “white supremacist” views, she said there shouldn’t be any surprise at her comments.
“The reality is we have an anti-Māori government with coalition partners that are using every power so that not only they know what’s better for us, they know how to design Te Tiriti better for us…”
She said the government had got into power by leveraging off some of what had been fought for 40 to 50 years, such as the Māori Health Authority and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
While Māori Ministers such as Tama Potaka and Dr Shane Reti would say they were representing Māori interests in a different way, Ngarewa-Packer countered that 10,000 people at the weekend opposed their views.
The new government’s policies meant that Māori ability to thrive and to protect things such as the language were now being threatened, she said.
“I’m sad to say that is how we feel with this [sic] anti-Māori policies and legislations that have been enacted under urgency to hold us back.”