Why I'm speaking up on He Puapua

Since my speech on the Government’s He Puapua report last week, I’ve been asked why I’m speaking up on it. I’m speaking up because it’s a conversation that needs to be had.

He Puapua was commissioned by the Government in 2019 and sets out wide-ranging changes where governance is split between Māori and non-Māori.

I’ve stated my position on these changes. I believe separate systems of governance is not what the Treaty had in mind and that separate systems will not help New Zealand in 2021.

The PM says she didn’t release the report because she didn’t want it to be ‘misconstrued’ as Government policy. But all evidence points to the report being Government policy.

Let’s look at just some of the measures the Government has passed in just the past 24 months.

  • The Government’s freshwater reforms which embedded Te Mana o te Wai as a ‘fundamental concept’: Recommendation of He Puapua.

  • The proposed new history curriculum around the study of the consequences of colonisation and the effects of power: Recommendation of He Puapua.

  • The law allowing councils to urgently create Māori wards for the 2022 local government elections: Recommendation of He Puapua.

  • The commitment for the Government to work with iwi on a direct role for Māori in resource management and freshwater reform: Māori governance of freshwater and resource management is a recommendation of He Puapua.

  • The Māori Health Authority. Able to veto exercise veto over the $20 billion health budget: Recommendation of He Puapua.

  • The Waitangi Tribunal has just in the last few weeks made a decision that we must have a separate child welfare service for Māori in order to comply with Article 2 of the Treaty: Recommendation of He Puapua.
So what comes next?

The Department of Conservation is currently undertaking a review of how it can give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The review group is recommending that the ownership model of the DOC estate is reformed.

That functions and powers for the DOC estate are delegated, devolved and transferred to Tangata Whenua.

Remember, this isn’t just the National Parks, but the entire DOC estate.

85 per cent of the West Coast.

The document recommends we recast the legal status of waters, resources and indigenous species.

To do this, recommendations include reform in the freshwater and ocean space too.

This is all recommended in He Puapua.

I am under no illusions that this is a highly complex and contentious debate.

But I am simply asking the Prime Minister to implement the one recommendation from He Puapua she has ignored:

That is to have a national conversation on this issue.

You can read my speech to our Northern Conference here, and our Lower North Island Conference here.