The Government is failing Māori by playing politics with an important issue like freshwater, National’s Māori Development spokesperson Nuk Korako says.
“The Government claimed at the start of this year that there was a new era of openness and partnership - not just with Māori but all of New Zealand. Eight months later that commitment lies in tatters.
“At Waitangi, the Prime Minister told Māori to ‘hold us to account’. Māori have done that in the total rejection of Environment Minister David Parker’s Kahui Wai Māori – the Māori Freshwater Forum.
“The Government showed its true colours by forcing this forum upon Māori without any consultation or input with iwi as to how it would be formed and run.
“True to form, Mr Parker has arrogantly dismissed the concerns of the iwi leaders. This Government continues to show that it thinks it knows best, that it does not want its ideas challenged, and that it’s quick to insult and denigrate those who disagree with it.
“How is that openness, transparency and partnership the Prime Minister promised at Waitangi earlier this year?
“Māori are now seeing through the promises the Government made during the election. It’s all too familiar to Māori that Labour that promises all - with no intention of actually delivering.
“National has a consistent message to all New Zealanders. No one owns the freshwater. It is a public resource and must be managed in the public interest. However, we recognise that iwi have a legitimate right to have a say about how water is managed within their rohe.
“Iwi should be properly consulted and included on how those discussions will take place.”
Environment Minister David Parker’s establishment of Kahui Wai Māori is just another attempt by this Labour-led Government to mislead Māori on freshwater issues, National’s Māori Development spokesperson Nuk Korako says.
“Kahui Wai Māori – the Māori Freshwater Forum is another talkfest forum that’s designed to give the appearance of engagement with Māori.
“This is going to end badly for Māori.
“On one side you have the Greens promising the Crown will engage robustly on Māori water rights and Labour is giving the appearance it’s doing something about Māori rights to water by establishing this forum.
“Meanwhile you’ve got NZ First stating unequivocally that it will not sanction Māori ownership of water.
“The Government needs to come clean to Māori. By raising false expectations, Labour is facing a new foreshore and seabed fiasco.
“Iwi have long raised concerns about water quality, how water is allocated and want their kaitiaki responsibilities better recognised.
“National believes that iwi have an important role to play in improving New Zealanders’ freshwater management as they are interested in water quality as well as economic development.
“National’s policy is that nobody owns the water. Nor is a national settlement like that achieved on fisheries appropriate. Freshwater issues, such as nutrients, sediment, E.coli and allocation vary so significantly around the country that solutions have to be worked out on a catchment by catchment basis.
“Freshwater is one of New Zealand’s most important resources and National is committed to improving how it is managed.”
National’s Māori Education spokesperson Jo Hayes and Māori Development spokesperson Nuk Korako are challenging Labour’s Māori MPs to do what’s right for young Māori.
“In light of the Treaty of Waitangi claim lodged by respected Māori leaders Sir Toby Curtis and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, Labour’s Māori MPs should come out of hiding and stand with them against their colleagues’ decision to axe partnership schools,” Ms Hayes says.
“Sir Toby and Dame Iritana are doing exactly what Labour’s Māori MPs have continually failed to do, and that’s to represent Māori and advocate for what’s best for them.
“They are calling out this Government’s attack on Māori tino rangatiratanga and fighting against the closure of partnership schools, which they rightly believe will have a detrimental effect on Māori.
“Their claim also raises issues about a lack of consultation with Māori on the review of our education system. This Government wants to axe schools that work for Māori and hasn’t bothered to talk to Māori about how to improve the education system for young Māori.”
Mr Korako says Labour’s Māori MPs having been sitting idle for too long while their colleagues continue to attack vulnerable young Māori by scrapping partnership schools.
“Māori people are right to be angry. Many voted for Labour MPs but so far those MPs have achieved nothing for them. It’s the same old Labour, same old attacks on Māori success and aspiration.
“Labour’s Māori MPs are allowing their Government to ride roughshod over partnership schools that have been successful in raising achievement for many young Māori.
“It’s time for Labour’s Māori MPs to start representing their people and fight to keep partnership schools open.”
The Government has set out to ignore the voices of Maori by ensuring that there is no Maori representation on the panel which will investigate funding allocated to public media, Maori Development spokesperson Nuk Korako says.
“Public media platforms are one of the few avenues Maori have to communicate their views, but the Government’s latest commission - the one that will allocate millions to media organisations - is void of any Maori representation,” Mr Korako says.
“Maori public media platforms including Radio Waatea, Maori Television, and the various regional Maori radio stations rely on public funding, so any decision on the future of Maori public media should include consultation with Maori.
“Are they saying that Maori voices don’t matter? These are the places dedicated to sharing our reo and our stories.
“This panel is extremely important and will essentially decide the future of public media in New Zealand.
“Clearly Labour has been paying lip service to its commitment to Maori. The pre-election rhetoric is not matching up with its actions now in Government.
“So far Maori have seen very little benefit from the Labour MPs who claim they are there to represent Maori. The deliberate snubbing of Maori in these appointments is bitterly disappointing.”
The Government’s policy of a billion more trees is being directly contradicted by its decision to scrap years of work on Māori land reform, National’s Forestry and Māori Development spokespersons Dr Nick Smith and Nuk Korako say.
“The Government needs a million hectares to deliver on its promised one billion more trees and has identified underutilised Māori land as the key opportunity. The problem is that it has just scrapped the very Te Ture Whenua reforms that would enable this land to be used for forestry – and admitted part of the problem is the difficulty of using Maori land,” Dr Smith says.
“Regions like Northland and the Bay of Plenty are the worst victims of this muddled policy. There is over 500,000 hectares of Māori land in these regions, with at least half of that suitable for forestry but inaccessible because of the bureaucracy of current Māori land law.”
“It is extraordinary that Forestry Minister Shane Jones is blaming the fact he can’t deliver on his 100 million trees promise this year on the difficulty of getting approval to use Māori land when his Government has just scrapped the very reforms that would solve this problem,” Mr Korako says
“Labour and New Zealand First only have themselves to blame for this mess. They have scrapped the six years of hard work put into the Te Ture Whenua reforms and must now accept responsibility for the lost economic opportunity for Māori – a work programme which would have helped create jobs and boost incomes and regional economies - and for not being able to deliver on their flagship billion tree promise.
“It is time for Labour and New Zealand First to do what is right for Māori. They played cynical politics by previously opposing the TPP, but with some window dressing, are now supporting it. They need to do the same on the Te Ture Whenua Bill and give Māori the tools to create wealth and jobs off their own land.”
The Coalition Government’s Waka Jumping Bill is bad for Māori representation and is an affront to democracy, National’s Māori Development spokesperson Nuk Korako says.
“Our Māori MPs across the political spectrum have a duty not just to their party, but to act in the best interests of Māori and this Bill prevents them from doing so.
“MPs must have the opportunity to represent their constituency to the fullest extent which may require them to stand against their party’s leadership where it is warranted – this Bill prohibits that.
“Healthy debate is important in any democracy but the Government clearly fears that its shambolic policies and ill-conceived legislation require them to legislate their MPs into line.
“One only has to look at recent history where Dame Tariana Turia crossed the floor to try to vote down the flawed Foreshore and Seabed Act. Under this Waka Jumping Bill, she would be out the door for doing the right thing by Māori.
“The silence of Labour’s much-touted Māori Caucus is deafening - they should be vehemently opposed to this Bill but have once again shown that when it comes down to it Māori can’t rely on them for representation.”
Labour has continued its attacks on Māori progress, with Associate Crown Māori Relations Minister Meka Whaitiri reasserting the Government’s paternalistic view that it knows what’s best for Māori, National’s Māori Development spokesperson Nuk Korako says.
“Ms Whaitiri has described the previous Government’s $5.2 million spending on investigating the establishment of a Māori Land Service as “arrogant” and “appalling”. The same might be said of her and her Government’s opposition to the Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill which would have lifted economic outcomes for so many Māori.
“The Government has said that it would be axed but hasn’t said what it would be replaced with. This is pure politics and another example of this Government’s obstructive approach to progress and Crown-Iwi relations.
“The Bill would have made it easier for Māori land owners to make decisions about how they wish to use their lands. But it appears Labour doesn’t trust Māori to make their own decisions.
“Even Ms Whaitiri’s colleagues recognise that the Bill would have unlocked huge economic and social potential. Just last week Shane Jones described the challenges he faces in planting 100 million trees a year, specifically referring to the challenges in utilising Māori land because of problems in getting the consent of land owners. This Bill would have helped to address that very problem.
“The trashing of the Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill and the subsequent attacks on spending to progress Māori development will do nothing to further progress for Māori.
“There is a real danger that the progress Māori have made over the last ten years will stall if Labour continues to act like it alone knows what’s best for Māori. It’s time they trusted Māori to know what’s best for themselves.”
Redcliffs School now has a clear future which will give the staff and students certainty, and enable them to look forward to a new and larger site, says Nuk Korako, List MP based in Port Hills.
“The Minister carefully considered all the analysis and concluded that moving the school away from the original site is the best option for the school and its community,” Mr Korako said.
“Every option was carefully considered. It has been clear from the beginning of my engagement with the board and community that the school site was important to the teachers, students, and community.
“But at the front of the Minister’s mind were the potential psychosocial effects on the children. The investigation found that although the risk of negative psychosocial impacts could be mitigated for most children, this would place additional responsibilities on staff to implement mitigation measures if the school remained on the site, and this cannot be guaranteed by the Ministry of Education or the current board in the long term.
“At the end of the day, we whole-heartedly believe relocating the school to the nearby Redcliffs Park will be best for the entire community.
“Moving to Redcliffs Park will also mean the school will have a larger site, allowing it room to grow and the potential to share community facilities.
"I want to acknowledge the school board, the teachers, the students, the parents, and the Redcliffs community. This has been a long road, and I am glad that the community now has certainty and can plan for their new home,” Mr Korako said.
Analysis will now be undertaken on Redcliffs Park to find the best site for the school. Redcliffs School will continue sharing the site at Van Asch Deaf Education Centre until the new site is ready, which will likely be by mid-2019.