The party is being officially welcomed onto the Waitangi Treaty Grounds alongside a Kīngitanga delegation led by Kīngi Tūheitia.
The Kiingitanga’s arrival follows its historic national hui at Tūrangawaewae Marae last month as well as its presence at Rātana celebrations.
There has been a common theme across those events – that the Government should respect Māori mana motuhake (self-determination) and support them by upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi. There has also been opposition to Government policies Māori believe will threaten their mana motuhake, including the Treaty Principles Bill.
The Treaty Principles Bill intends to define the principles of the Treaty in law. Some of the proposed principles have been controversial as they only refer to the rights of “all New Zealanders” without any specific mention of Māori – seen as some as an erasure of Māori.
But ACT leader David Seymour, who is responsible for the legislation, has said the Bill would clarify there are the same rights and duties for all.
“Our Bill means Parliament would legislate that those are the principles, and that means that we are not a partnership between races,” said Seymour in a speech last week.
“We are not people who have to look at our family tree to find out how we fit in. We’re all New Zealanders with the same basic rights.”
At the Iwi Chairs Forum on Friday – which was attended by the Prime Minister and other ministers – leaders warned they were prepared to fight back against what they referred to as the Government’s “sustained attack on Maori”.
They mentioned a number of kaupapa they would oppose, including the disestablishment of the Māori Health Authority and the “unilateral constitutional reform and redefining of Te Tiriti o Waitangi including the Treaty Principles Bill”.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has repeatedly said the Government has no intentions to rewrite the Treaty as some have suggested, as well as insisting the Government would uphold it.
Luxon said he was “straight up” in the meeting with iwi leaders and believed there was goodwill from both the Crown and Māori to ensure the relationship worked well.