ACT’s push for a referendum on the Treaty was just one of the issues discussed in Waitangi, says Finance Minister Nicola Willis.
Tens of thousands of people were in Waitangi on Tuesday with a strong message of Toitū Te Tiriti.
Willis told First Up National continued to oppose a referendum but as part of its coalition deal would support a bill through the first reading to select committee.
“It certainly was one of the issues that was being debated at Waitangi, but I don’t think it was the only issue.
“For the National Party, we recognise right in our constitution that the Treaty of Waitangi, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, is our nation’s founding document and we honour it as such.”
Willis said she had a “lot of conversations with Māori” while up north and a special few days.
“Waitangi it has a special wairua, it has a special spirit to it, you can feel its history, and I find it’s a really reflective time whenever I am there.”
Willis said successive governments across health and education had failed to deliver the best results.
“Article Two of the Treaty, it talks about tino rangatiratanga, and when I think about that I think about what does it mean for iwi and Māori to really have determination and control over some of the services in our community.”
National’s philosophy was, where possible, to devolve those services to the community level, she said.
“Iwi often know their people better than the ministry sitting in Wellington, so let them take some ownership about those decisions.”
Asked about reported similarities between Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s speeches on Tuesday and last year, Willis said she wasn’t surprised his views on how to reflect on the national day would remain consistent.