Māori leaders want urgent inquiry into Govt’s pandemic response

Source: 1News

A group of Māori leaders have made an application to the Waitangi Tribunal for an urgent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The national Māori flag flies during Waitangi Day.

By Te Aniwa Hurihanganui

Claimants Archdeacon Harvey Ruru, Sir Edward Durie and representatives of the New Zealand Māori Council have told the tribunal Māori are significantly and irreversibly prejudiced by the Crown’s Covid-19 Protection Framework.

The group are proposing a week-long urgent hearing to take place from December 6.

The Waitangi Tribunal, which investigates breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi by the Crown, only accepts urgent hearings in extraordinary circumstances.

In their application, the claimants explained that the situation was extremely time-sensitive given the Government’s intention to move the country into the traffic light system by the end of November and open Auckland’s border next month.

“In order to protect Māori, remedy these prejudices, and address the current and pending Crown actions, these grievances must be heard by this Tribunal, under urgency. Māori cannot wait for this Tribunal to hear these grievances at a later [date]," the application states.

“This traffic light system, and the lack of paediatric vaccines, will inevitably disproportionally affect Māori. To put it bluntly, if these Crown actions continue, Māori will suffer significant and irreversible prejudice.”

The claimants want the Government to change its strategy by only implementing the traffic light system when 90 per cent of the eligible Māori population are fully vaccinated.

“By using a measure that considers only vaccination rates of the broader population, and no additional requirement to reach any particular rate amongst Māori, the Government is exposing Māori communities to this unacceptable risk.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly denied the Government’s response to the pandemic has breached the Treaty of Waitangi.