Bridges says Labour ministers 'a bit religious' about He Puapua report

Source: Q and A

Former National Party leader Simon Bridges says the Government is still trying to implement He Puapua and side-stepping a wider constitutional conversation with the New Zealand public.

On Thursday the Māori Development Minister, Willie Jackson, said the Government will consult with "Māori stakeholders" as part of its next step to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Bridges told Q+A protestations from Labour that it was a National coalition government who signed up to the UNDRIP is a “fig leaf of an excuse”.

He Puapua is a report commissioned by Te Puni Kōkiri - written over a two-month period in 2019 – which looks at ways to meet New Zealand’s obligations after signing UNDRIP.

Opposition leader Judith Collins has repeatedly claimed the report is an attempt by the Government to implement "separatism by stealth".

Bridges told Q+A host Jack Tame that meeting New Zealand’s obligations under UNDRIP is Labour’s responsibility and he doesn’t accept Jackson’s assurances that He Puapua is "separate to Government policy".

Simon Bridges

He characterised Jackson’s comments on He Puapua and the government response to it as “a very confused picture that he’s painting”.

“My worry when I think about Willie … [Foreign Affairs Minister] Nanaia [Mahuta], other ministers, is there is something a bit religious about this. A sense that ‘if we haven’t said Aotearoa 18 times by lunchtime, if we haven’t referenced the Treaty and tried to do some things in that area, we’ll have to go home in the evening and say a few Hail Marys’.”

You can see the full interview on Q+A this Sunday from 9am on TVNZ1 and on TVNZ OnDemand