Outgoing Labour MP Kelvin Davis says his party will continue to fight the Pākehā “spiders” – the new Government – at Waitangi today.
Davis announced his retirement from Parliament in December, with his last day set to be Waitangi Day.
On the marae at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds today, the Labour MP spoke after mana whenua speakers, Green MP Teanau Tuiono and outgoing Green co-leader James Shaw, and Labour MP Peeni Henare.
The speeches were part of a pōwhiri for opposition parties onto the marae, which only included Labour and Green members as te Pāti Māori did not attend.
The party has said it will be part of a pōwhiri with the Kīngitanga tomorrow, a choice which some of today’s speakers said saddened them.
Davis, who previously served as deputy leader of Labour alongside Jacinda Ardern, spoke of a proverb that referred to some Pākehā as “spiders”. He spoke in te reo Māori.
Pointing to changes planned by the new coalition government, Davis said te ao Māori was “in for a fight” and claimed the Government was trying to “meddle” with the Treaty.
He referenced the coalition’s plans to scrap section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act, disestablish the Māori Health Authority, and mandate government agencies use their English names first.
“The spiders are coming, the spiders are coming to us on Monday,” Davis said, translated from te reo Māori.
“They’re coming from the lion’s den. We must not speak to them as lambs.
“Their work will do nothing that will benefit te ao Māori.
“If they hear the anger within te ao Māori maybe they will not follow these things through.”
He said that meant not just the Treaty Principles Bill, but also “all things anti-Māori”.
“We will fight the spiders within Parliament.”
Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson also spoke amid a sudden tempest of rain and wind. She suggested discontent with the Government’s policy plans for Māori, held by herself and others, was endorsed by pāpātuānuku (mother earth).
Chris Hipkins takes aim at Government
Labour leader Chris Hipkins also spoke, taking several shots at the Government. He said the Crown-Māori relationship was “much more than a business transaction”.
The party leader and former prime minister spoke in an at-time impassioned speech.
He referenced Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s comments, from yesterday, that both the Government and iwi had roles to play in making sure Māori children attended school.
Hipkins said those children did not always feel school was “a place that respected them” and that they felt the need to change who they were in order to fit in there.
“We have to change that,” the former education minister said.
He also said non-Māori New Zealanders had nothing to fear from a “by Māori, for Māori” approach to health – such as the Māori Health Authority.
The Labour leader added that while many New Zealanders had “a lot of goodwill”, they were confused by commentary about race relations and issues like co-governance.
“Working together … will be good for all of New Zealand and we should continue in that vein.”
Hipkins said, as PM last year, he had spent five days at Waitangi, which had included some challenges and positive reinforcement, which had been “incredibly valuable”.
The comment could be considered to be a veiled reference to Luxon, who will arrive at Waitangi on Monday. Hipkins said he had been interested by reports yesterday coming out of the Iwi Chairs Forum, that ACT leader David Seymour did “not speak for his iwi”.
“But he does not speak for non-Māori either,” Hipkins said.