The accidental announcement of a Crown-Māori Partnership Office has left unanswered, serious questions about the power of the Office and its influence over policies which will affect all New Zealanders, National’s spokesperson for Crown-Māori Relations Chris Finlayson says.
“We are a third of the way through the Parliamentary term and Crown-Māori Relations Minister Kelvin Davis has finally, albeit accidentally, let slip some details around the new agency.
“After 10 months of meetings we still don’t know the answer to simple questions like what powers it will have over decisions of government and what its Budget and actual mandate will be.
“And why was it half-announced by visitors to the Beehive yesterday and not by Mr Davis?
“This agency is likely to raise expectations among iwi groups and Māori organisations that they will wield more power over Government policy.
“But is this agency really necessary? It’s embedding a further layer of consultation and bureaucracy based along racial lines into the everyday running of Government.
“The Minister for Māori Development responsible for Te Puni Kōkiri already provides guidance to Government about policies affecting Māori.
“The agency has been announced with an uncertain remit and the power and relationship with the rest of Government ill-defined. Why announce before there is certainty on key matters?
“It is also appalling that the Government thought it was appropriate to have an offender convicted of assaulting a Prime Minister in the Cabinet Office as part of the announcement. Justice Minister Andrew Little’s explanation that this Government is ‘listening to the voices of offenders’ doesn’t make that decision any less galling.
“Why were they invited to attend when other Māori leaders who have worked constructively with the Crown in the best interests of New Zealanders weren’t?
“Finally, will NZ First stick to their principles and veto this proposal?
“New Zealanders are entitled to something better than this half thought through, half announced, agency.”