PM needs to give a straight answer on He Puapua

The Prime Minister’s continued refusal to state her view on recommendations in the He Puapua report is a worrying sign for the future of the country, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

He Puapua sets out a roadmap to co-governance between the Crown and Māori by 2040. It proposes a Māori Health Authority, separate court and justice systems, Māori ownership over the foreshore and seabed, Māori wards in councils, and constitutional reform to consider matters such as a Māori Parliament or Upper House.

“Jacinda Ardern can’t skirt the issue of where she stands on these issues by claiming the report hasn’t found its way to the Cabinet table,” Ms Collins says.

“We’ve already seen the Government press ahead with a Māori Health Authority that will have veto power over the entire health system, so Ministers have clearly read the report.”

Other recommendations in He Puapua being progressed by Labour include legislating Māori wards for councils, amending the school history curriculum, establishing the Te Mana o Te Wai (the mana of the water), resource management reform that provides a role for Māori in decision-making, and work on Māori rights and interests in freshwater, Ms Collins says.

“The recommendations in He Puapua could dramatically reshape how democracy looks in this country under an approach of having one system for Māori and another system for everyone else across multiple layers of government.

“The Prime Minister should not be afraid of telling New Zealanders where she stands on the report. They deserve to know what her Government will do with it.

“It’s sad that Jacinda Ardern has chosen to lower the tone of the debate by brushing it off as ‘playing politics’. In doing so, she herself is playing politics by trying to muddy the waters.

“In the spirit of being open and transparent, National has made its position clear on the report. We believe many of its recommendations, as written, are a step to far.

“It is right that we acknowledge and address the wrongs of the past, which is why National continues to support targeted programmes based on need, such as Whānau Ora. But we do not support division along racial lines when it comes to running core services and ownership of things like the foreshore and seabed.

“We are better off addressing the flaws within the current systems that aren’t working for Māori. Ethnicity should not divide us. We are better together.”