It takes a lot to shock this Māori from Rapaki but I was shocked by the New Zealand Herald’s Leftist opinion writer Simon Wilson. In his opinion piece of 18 August, Simon Wilson referenced the Kahurangi National Māori membership group who attended the National Party conference and then bizarrely stated that we weren’t ‘…well represented’.
The only way he could have made that assertion would have been by looking at the colour of our Māori people in attendance and then deciding some of us weren’t brown enough in hue to be counted. How else do you explain well over 60 Māori in attendance as ‘not well represented’? The National Party is made up of a number of groups, from those focused on the environment to seniors, and this was a strong representation from one of the party’s strongest groups.
Simon Wilson’s assertion is a continuation of an unfortunate tendency by people who should really know better, that Māori must be measured either by blood percentage or by skin colour. How else can Simon Wilson’s assertion that not many Māori were in attendance stand any measure of scrutiny.
He didn’t attend the Kahurangi National breakfast I hosted where over 40 Māori and Pasifika (and not a small number of Pakeha) were in attendance. If he had, he would have noted that Māori come in all shapes, sizes, and colour hues.
Unfortunately, I’m not surprised. This mis-stating of who Māori are and aren’t by people who aren’t Māori has being going on for a long time, especially by those trying to make a point.
I grew up in a pa full of freezing workers, shearers and hi-vis wearing Māori. My Dad was a dark skinned fellow, and that’s pretty much where I got my dark skin from.
But that wasn’t the case for many of the Ngāi Tahu I grew up around. We came in all different shapes, sizes, and colour hues. Many of us were not obviously Māori to look at. Oh I can tell you that those lighter shade of pale whanau members of mine were as Ngāi Tahu as they come. But light skinned they were.
I remember when people in Christchurch used to say there were no Māori living there. The fact they’d make those statements to my own whanau who were very Māori and actually not that light skinned was seemingly lost on them. My Ngāi Tahu whanaunga were too polite to correct the ignorance on display. And some of my relatives would suggest I do the same in this instance.
I’d normally consider giving Simon Wilson a bit of a pass on this given his long history as a journalist. But unfortunately Simon’s disregard for the Māori of National continued with his snide little dig at the word ‘Kahurangi’ likening it to ‘cheese’. And quite frankly we’re not there to have a left-wing political commentator try and score points off us.
Simon’s article had a tone. He opened with an attack on Māori by refusing to count any who didn’t fit his measure of ‘dark enough’ and then continued the attack by mocking a Māori word in the article. On top of that he went as far to suggest an Opposition doing its job of holding the Government to account and pointing out the real flaws in the Government’s policy was verging on sabotage. This too is reckless and a concerning belief from a journalist whose supposed job is holding the powerful to account.
I’m wondering therefore if it would be more helpful to Simon Wilson if those Māori in attendance at National party events could wear grass skirts and sing Māori songs at the same time to make his count a little easier? Let us know what works Simon. We’re here to serve, apparently.
As an aside Simon, we are called ‘Kahurangi National’. Oh and some of us Māori aren’t as dark as others but I think you probably know that already.
Read Simon Wilson's opinion piece here
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.