2 Aug 2016

Māori Party stance on Helen Clark is 'political utu'

10:32 am on 2 August 2016

The Māori Party's refusal to support Helen Clark's bid to head the United Nations is a personal attack on her and an attack on New Zealand's nationhood, a former Minister of Māori Affairs says.

Helen Clark, Dover Samuels and Nanaia Mahuta.

Helen Clark, Dover Samuels and Nanaia Mahuta. Photo: RNZ / AFP

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said yesterday that party members unequivocally do not support Miss Clark.

Along with the contentious foreshore and seabed law in 2004, Ms Fox said there were other decisions by Miss Clark's Labour government that cast doubt on what kind of Secretary-General she would be.

"The Labour Party refused to sign the Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is a part of the UN agenda.

"The Labour Party in its time saw the Tuhoe raids and of course also there is the Foreshore and Seabed amendment which took the rights of Māori away to go to court."

Ms Fox said someone seeking the top role at the United Nations should be able to acknowledge their past mistakes and apologise for them.

Dover Samuels, who was a minister in that government, said the stance was vindictive.

"In my view this is outrageous, personal and vindictive. And that's where it's come from - it's called political utu. And very clearly the Māori Party has set aside New Zealand's interest and really it's pay back time."

Labour MP for Hauraki-Waikato and member of Miss Clark's government Nanaia Mahuta said the Māori Party was engaged in political point scoring.

"New Zealand should be proud that someone from the Pacific is taking such an audacious step to lead the UN," she said.

Mr Samuels said the Māori Party owed Miss Clark an apology.

"She has advocated on the international stage for New Zealand, and surely we as New Zealanders should support that across the divide from different parties. I mean the Māori Party, by the sound of it, is the only party [not to support her] and I doubt they canvassed Māori people, because it's certainly a different opinion up here in the far North."

Ms Mahuta said Miss Clark's record stood for itself.

"She has been a woman of principle and she will be a good contender for this challenge."

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