Waitangi 2021: Willie Jackson says Labour’s Māori caucus bringing change

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A crowd in Whangārei has been told Labour is a government full of Pākehā, but committed to kaupapa Māori.

Labour Maori caucus - from left: Kiri Allan, Peeni Henare, Nanaia Mahuta, Kelvin Davis, Meka Whaitiri, Willie Jackson, Adrian Rurawhe, and Rino Tirikatene.

Labour’s Māori caucus – from left: Kiri Allan, Peeni Henare, Nanaia Mahuta, Kelvin Davis, Meka Whaitiri, Willie Jackson, Adrian Rurawhe, and Rino Tirikatene. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The prime minister and her Māori ministers have spent the morning speaking to iwi leaders and visiting locals in Whangārei ahead of Waitangi Day.

Willie Jackson told a crowd at the Hihiaua Cultural Centre that Labour was the only Pākehā government willing to make New Zealand history a core subject in schools.

“We have got kaupapa through that you would never have thought a Pākehā government would have got through,” he said.

“Who would have ever thought you would get history in schools, what Pākehā government ever got that through? And I say Pākehā government, but we’re partners in terms of the Māori caucus, but the majority of our members are Pākehā, committed to kaupapa Māori.

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“Who would have thought you’d get a national holiday in terms of Matariki?”

Jackson said no other government had the courage to do the same, and Labour’s Māori caucus was clearly making an impact.

Earlier this morning, Ardern attended the National Iwi Chairs Forum virtually. Media were not allowed to attend.

Ardern said the key topics discussed were housing, the government’s Covid-19 response, and freshwater.

Kaumātua would not be left behind in the vaccine roll-out, she said, but gave no assurances they would be prioritised when the vaccine was delivered to the general population.

It was important to make sure any vaccine roll-out would address any concerns around hesitancy to get vaccinated, she said.

She dismissed a key recommendation from the Iwi Chairs Forum last month, which asked that the government cap incoming travellers to 300 visitors a day, and said she was confident with the current numbers coming in.

Ardern acknowledged the current legal action against the Crown from two iwi to assert their rights over freshwater, and said they had every right to explore legal avenues against the Crown.

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She said engagement with Māori on freshwater had been positive and constructive, and they were constantly looking at ways to improve the Resource Management Act and management of waterways.

Asked about Judith Collins and Marama Davidson not speaking at Te Whare Rūnanga yesterday, Ardern said it was up to the trust to establish who the speakers were.

“She’s been giving a spot to speak on the mahau and she’s very supportive of other female politicians been given that same opportunity. We have heard from one of the leaders up there that they’ll be looking at that next year,” RNZ reporter Charlie Dreaver told Midday Report.

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