Labour uses committee majority to block Covid accountability to Māori

Labour’s move today to block a request for the Minister of Covid-19 Response to explain what is being done to address shockingly low vaccination rates among Māori is an appalling example of politics over people, National Party Māori Affairs Select Committee members Harete Hipango and Joseph Mooney say.

The two National MPs, supported by Te Paati Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi, requested Covid 19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins front the Māori Affairs Select Committee to explain the issues and what was being done to lift woefully low vaccination rates in Māori communities.

“Staggeringly, Labour used its majority on the committee to vote our request down, blocking the opportunity for us to hold Minister Hipkins and the Government to account on behalf of Māori,” says Harete Hipango, National’s lead committee representative and Māori Tourism spokesperson.

“Having the offer of the Associate Minister to front instead is simply not good enough when low vaccination rates among Māori and the lack of priority are huge concerns. We need to be hearing directly from the Minister who is making the decisions, not an associate rolled out to appease.

“This is proof that Labour's Māori MPs are prepared to put politics ahead of the health and welfare of Māori communities.

“The Prime Minister’s unilateral decision to suspend Parliament and use her party’s majority on the Māori Affairs Select Committee to suppress and block accountability to Māori is shameful at a time when our Māori communities are known to be vastly unvaccinated and most vulnerable.”

Joseph Mooney, National’s spokesperson for Treaty Negotiations, says Labour must be held accountable to Māori.

“This is not the time for the Government to be shirking its responsibility and playing politics to protect ministers in charge.

“Minister Hipkins needs to front up and explain what’s being done to protect Māori and to stop the transmission of Covid in our vulnerable Māori communities.

“Deliberately dodging scrutiny does nothing but heighten fear and mistrust – and that’s on the Minister.

“The National Party has a proud history of truly standing up for Māori when and where it counts. Today was another example of that, and we won’t give up seeking answers on behalf of Māori to the questions and outcomes that matter.”