6 Feb 2018

Far North expecting big things from gvt - Winston Peters

1:28 pm on 6 February 2018

People in the Far North want action on housing, transport and employment, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says.

Congregation gathers for church service on Treaty Grounds.

Congregation gathers for church service on Treaty Grounds. Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

Mr Peters has been attending the commemorations at Waitangi where he said people had been raising a number of long-standing problems with him.

He told RNZ's Waitangi Day programme people were expecting big things from the new Labour-led Government.

"I think people here are expecting some of the long malingering problems of the north in transportation, in roading, railways, and infrastructure to be addressed and above all some of the key things like immediate employment opportunities based around our resources are the kind of things that they're looking hard at now."

Winston Peters was elected as the MP for Northland in a by-election in 2015, but lost the seat at last year's general election.

New Zealand First MP and Forestry, Infrastructure and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has also been using his attendance at Waitangi to talk about development in the northern region.

One of the government's objectives is to plant a billion trees.

Mr Jones told the Waitangi Day programme he wants this project to help bring jobs to Northland.

"It has to lift the raft of opportunities for people to create a career in an industry that's been neglected and if we're going to expand the size of the nation's lung and do the heavy lifting in relation to climate change we have to have a larger forest estate."

Progress needed on treaty settlement

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little said the Ngāpuhi leadership has recognised it needs to get on and make progress on a treaty settlement.

Mr Little said he has had a number of hui with iwi leaders and hapu over the weekend.

He said there were concerns about a number of long-standing social issues in the Far North, like housing and poverty.

But he said the Crown can't solve those problems on its own.

"In the end if we want to deal with the youth suicide problem, the meth problem, the housing problems, the employment problems, the Crown has got to stop thinking that it's the sole deliverer of solutions but in order to work meaningfully on those sorts of problems it needs to have an equal partner it can deal with."

Andrew Little said he wanted to get a mandate sorted as soon as possible and get negotiations with Ngāpuhi underway.

Kelvin Davis' first priority is to listen

Crown Māori Relations Minister Kelvin Davis will spend the next six weeks asking Māori what they want from their relationship with the government.

Mr Davis said he was already being approached by iwi, hapu and Māori organisations about what they wanted from the new ministry.

He said the priority was to meet the different groups.

"I said to the Iwi Leaders Forum the other day that I'll meet them in the forums, I'll meet them on their marae ...I'll meet them sitting around their kitchen table having a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits and we'll talk about the issues that are important to them."

Kelvin Davis said the work of the Crown Māori team at Waitangi commemorations was an example of what the two sides could achieve together.