5 Dec 2023

Thousands protest new government's policies on Maori issues

From Checkpoint, 5:11 pm on 5 December 2023
ACT MP David_Seymour.

 ACT Party leader David Seymour. Photo: Jordan Dunn / RNZ

Thousands took to the streets today protesting against the new government's policies on co-governance and the Treaty of Waitangi.

At least 20 demonstrations were held across the country, coinciding with today's opening of the 54th term of Parliament.

ACT Party leader David Seymour has dismissed today's widespread anti-government protests as disrupting lots of people for no point.

He told Checkpoint the protesters had it wrong.

"I would argue that the events today did very little to make a coherent point, but they did ensure that people were maximally disrupted for the amount of protesting that went on.

"I don't think it's helpful to disrupt people if you're not making a coherent point, and it's not helpful to disrupt people more than you need to, because what you end up doing is actually driving away from the point you're trying to persuade to."

He said today's demonstrations were about people protesting against dialogue around Te Tiriti principles.

"This government believes that New Zealand has been increasingly divided by an obsession with identity politics and race fanaticism on the parts of some activists where everything is viewed through the prism of race rather than humanity and human need. And we want to have constructive dialogue about how we return to the universal human rights that the likes of Kate Shepherd built this country on."

Asked if resources in New Zealand were equitably handed out due to discrimination, Seymour said: "I agree with you that there's inequities".

"Funnily enough, there are some Māori people who are doing very well, thank you very much and don't appreciate being treated as needy. There are some needy people who frankly, are not Māori, are not Pacific, and they're going to miss out if you use race as your prism for viewing inequity."

Asked if he had spoken with his whānau, hāpu and iwi about the Treaty policy direction, he said: "I've certainly spoken with whānau and I think frankly the way that you frame it up, that somehow a person's views are only valid if they've come to them in a certain formula is exactly the kind of prejudice and bigotry that I thought we're supposed to be against."

Show status: Live Monday to Friday, 4-6pm

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to Checkpoint

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)