'You hide away' - young iwi leader challenges Ardern to 'show the courage again' on Māori issues

Yvonne Tahana
Source: 1News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been challenged at annual coronation celebrations at the country's largest marae, Turangawaewae.

Ms Ardern was welcomed by Kingitanga members as part as annual commemorations of King Tuheitia becoming the leader of the movement.

One of Māoridom's youngest iwi leaders, Che Wilson, was the first speaker up during formalities and in his soft spoken way asked the Prime Minister to have courage on Māori issues - as she had courage in the aftermath of the Christchurch terrorist attack.

"During the Christchurch massacre, you showed the courage that made us all proud. You showed the courage that made us all proud," Mr Wilson said, as Ms Ardern listened from the podium.

"What I encourage you to do, what I encourage you consider now is to show the courage again when it comes to Māori," he said.

"You asked us to keep you to account at Waitangi this year. But every big issue with regard to Māori, it appears that you hide away. 

"And what we ask you to do is do exactly this, because this is the right way to do it. This is the right way to do it. And if you do it like this all the time then you will continue to be an amazing prime minister," Mr Wilson said. 

His plea comes as the Government faces a number of divisive Māori issues including Ihumātao and the performance of Oranga Tamariki.

The Prime Minister responded to media after leaving the marae, acknowledging Mr Wilson's comments, saying she will continue to be present to engage on Māori issues.

"I heard that raised on the paepae, but at the same time I was there to hear it.

"As I said in brief remarks on the hard issues, be it Oranga Tamariki, be it issues around our prison population, be it Ihumātao, I will be there.

"I will have those conversations and we do have issues as a nation that we need to address, but my approach and that of the Government, is to work in partnership and solve those issues together and on those hard issues I believe we are doing that I will keep being here."