Tense standoff between Breakfast host and Māori Council head over Ihumātao

Source: 1News

The head of the Māori Council, Matthew Tukaki, faced off this morning with Breakfast host Jehan Casinader after suggesting the standoff over a housing development at Ihumātao is a symptom of too much migration.

Mr Tukaki spoke to TVNZ1's Breakfast programme about the management of the protest in Manukau, saying that it has been handled poorly, and also suggested that an insatiable need for housing was behind Fletcher Building's decision to put a new development there.

He said it is increasingly important that New Zealand look at its historic sites and decide which of them need to be protected further under law.

"Protection doesn't mean no development. Protection simply means that there is something important of this site in the life, in the fabric of all New Zealanders," Mr Tukaki said.

Mr Tukaki also spoke about his belief that New Zealand needs to re-examine its visa policies.

"I'm not saying turn off the entire immigration tap," he siad. "We're not talking about cutting the refugee intake, absolutely not.

"Let's have an honest conversation about what the population looks like and to reasonably ask the question - if we can't afford to house current New Zealanders, if we can't afford the current health system, if we can't afford food for our children and all these other things, why are we increasingly bringing even more people in?"

Mr Tukaki said those at the higher end of skilled migration visas - doctors, nurses, teachers and other in-demand professions - are needed, but said the skills at the lower end need to be reconsidered.

"What we've got is we've got an entire plethora of skills at the bottom end, that - do we really need those skills?" Mr Tukaki said.

"Why aren't we using our education system to build up the skills capability of New Zealanders as opposed to trying to buy them in all the time?"

Mr Tukaki said that, as the former head of recruitment company Drake, he was well aware of the realities of the migrant job market, and often heard arguments that employers can't find skilled labour in New Zealand.

"I hear all of those arguments all the time - so, for example, the IT and tech industry, they say we need more C++ developers, we need more programmers, we need more software developers - well OK, I get that, but when they get here they appear to be driving Uber, they appear to be working as part of the gig economy.

"Are they coming in to do the skills that the category demands?"

After completing the main part of his interview with Breakfast's Hayley Holt, co-host Jehan Casinader accused Mr Tukaki of a "xenophobic dog whistle".

"Let's not blame migrants for the fact that we haven't dealt with the issues that have come from our colonisation for a long time," Casinader said.

"Immigrants prop up this economy - they do the jobs that other Kiwis are not willing to do.

"The fact that we have a housing shortage, the fact that we have issues around Ihumātao is not due to migration, it's the fact that we haven't built in the right places."

Mr Tukaki clarified that he was speaking more about looking forward at New Zealand's skill requirements, and saying that New Zealand's education system is not producing enough skilled workers to keep up with demand.

Casinader urged him "not to drag migration into that", saying that "we should talk about our history, we should talk about our shameful history as a country and the fact that we have not done right by Māori".

"And we are doing that," Mr Tukaki responded.

"We are having that conversation, but in order to get to where we need to be we need to have a conversation about the past, what's happening now, and what the population dynamic of our country needs to be in the future."

Watch the full interview above.