ACT Party leader and Associate Justice Minister David Seymour has explained his reasoning behind controversial plans to review the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
The proposal, to be heard in Parliament as the Treaty Principles Bill, has drawn widespread criticism and protest from Māori and beyond this week, particularly at Waitangi Day events.
“It’s about allowing mana for all,” Seymour said. “I think at the moment there is a conception of the Treaty of Waitangi that some New Zealanders are in partnership with the Crown, but everyone who’s not Māori is sort of off somewhere else.”
“And in a practical sense, it means that who gets consulted on resource consents, it sometimes means who gets jobs — and you’ll see people who will say, ‘In my workplace, I feel that people are being promoted because there’s an objective of having this many Māori or this relationship with the Crown, in order to honour the principles of the Treaty’.
“These are real problems that people are seeing in their everyday life,” he told a Q+A with Jack Tame Waitangi Day special.
“And I think we have to decide, do we want to be a country that has equal mana for all citizens, or do we want to become a bit of a constitutional oddity where there’s a two-track citizenship arrangement?”
Seymour said ACT is in favour of a New Zealand “that has Māori as a very important and foundational part of it”.
“But it’s also a New Zealand that has the same mana for all.
“It doesn’t say that some people have tino rangatiratanga and other people have, well, who knows?”
Watch the full interview in the video above