Labour failing tangata whenua as Treaty partners, says Māori Party co-leader

Source: 1News

The Labour Party has been is failing Māori as Treaty of Waitangi partners while in Government, says Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

The Te Tai Hauāuru candidate said Pākehā within mainstream parties needed to front kaupapa Māori and not leave it to Māori MPs.

“What we are hearing is that there is not the emphasis, we are not seeing the commitment as Treaty partners,” she said.

“Certainly, we have got Māori in there that are working hard but they are a minority voice in a mainstream party.”

“We need to see the Pākehā people within these mainstream parties, within Labour, showing their commitment as Treaty partners. They need to front kaupapa Māori, not just our brothers and sisters.”

Māori faced numerous issues linked to “systemic racism”, Ngarewa-Packer said.

“We could look it at from Oranga Tamariki, we could look at it from the mental health, we’ve got lots of money going in but not necessarily to Māori,” she said.

“We’ve got cancer screening where we know we die 10 years younger, but we’ve got a Government that has not been kind about the inequities we have in health.”

“We have got under 16-year-olds who have been excluded from school who are later showing up as 52 per cent Māori in the prison population.”

Ngarewa-Packer was also critical of what she called a two-tier benefit system and said Māori had the solutions.

“Māori who were unemployed pre-Covid are now on a benefit half the amount than those who were middle class and being unemployed during Covid,” she said.

“They’ve kept Whanua Ora thank goodness, we expected there would be more scale and we would actually grow by Māori for Māori and actually how we are going to address inequities.”

“Instead of thinking mainstream have all the solutions.”

“If we are truly going to realise economic opportunities, employment opportunities, we need to stop the inequities with two-tier benefit systems.”

“We actually need to reach into all of Māori to find all of those opportunities and realise them.”

The inequities were the reason she was insisting on having a Māori Party voice and asking for the candidate vote.

“We need to make sure that we actually stop those inequities, level out the playing field, bring the balance back in so we can truly address poverty and inequities.”

“Honour and treat us well, help our people fulfil their full potential.”

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern denied the accusation levelled at her party by Ngarewa-Packer as she answered questions about comments she made in her speech at Waitangi early in her time as Prime Minister.

“Actually in that speech the point that we made there was that we will only reduce the difference between the houses on the Treaty grounds when we overcome the inequality that Māori experience,” she said.

“In things like unemployment, home ownership and wages, all of those areas, the progress that we’ve made I am proud of. We’ve invested in initiatives and employment that have made a difference and got us to the lowest Māori unemployment rates in a decade.”

“We have been working on Papakāinga Housing plans, housing plans right in the area, Te Tai Hauāuru, where you’re talking about.”

“What we’re asking for is a mandate to keep going, to keep moving, because we were never going to turn everything around in just three years.”

Ardern rejected claims that her Government had done nothing to address the 52 per cent of the prison population who are Māori and the number of Māori tamariki in state care.

"Kelvin Davis in Corrections has done a great job working alongside iwi leaders and others to develop a plan that says actually ‘what are we doing to try and reduce down recidivism and re-offending, specifically working with Māori'.

“We’ve tried so many things over so many years, the fact that the proportion of Māori that continue to be incarcerated in New Zealand is so high, we have to start doing things differently,” she said.

He [Davis] has completed that work and is starting to roll it out, we do need to give these new initiatives a chance.”

“In Oranga Tamaraki, when it comes to children in state care, we’ve only just recently signed up a new initiative using Whanau Ora to reduce down again the number of children entering into care.

“Again, already we’re starting to see an increase in Māori and whanau caregivers and a reduction of Māori children in care, we just need to keep going.’

“Again, decades here that need to be addressed, I’m not going to able to do it quickly but I wanted to keep it going.”

Ngarewa-Packer was confident she could win Te Tai Hauāuru.

“This is a matter of necessity, to make sure we have a tangata whenua voice in there holding other major parties to account,” she said.