18 May 2021

National MPs express diverging views on targeted funding for Māori

9:22 pm on 18 May 2021

National MPs are at odds when it comes to race relations, offering differing views on Māori co-governance and targeted funding.

National Party leader Judith Collins and justice spokesperson Simon Bridges, left, announcing the party's law and order policy on Tuesday 11 August.

National Party leader Judith Collins with Simon Bridges, left, and Simeon Brown, right. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Opposition leader Judith Collins has been questioning the government on its plans for Māori and accusing it of trying to create two systems by stealth.

She has also been running the line about a "separatist" agenda, but herself is under pressure after a poor personal showing in Sunday's poll.

Speaking to reporters today, she was clear: government funding should target need, not race.

"In terms of making it easier based on ethnicity, that's not the issue. The issue is, does someone need a house? If they do, the government should be prepared to step up," Collins said.

Senior National MP Simon Bridges, however, is on a different page.

"Of course we think there should be targeted funding. That's been National's approach now for decades and we would want to see that continue," Bridges said.

When asked by reporters how much funding should go towards Māori in this week's Budget, Bridges said it was not a question of how much, but the quality.

"It's what's actually there and whether these are things that will turn the dial on Māori employment opportunities, on Māori health, on the issues we know matter."

Bridges was not the only MP to offer differing views.

Many National MPs appear to have contradicting opinions when it comes to Māori co-governance and targeted funding.

The only consistency is their support of their leader, saying it is important she questions the government and its plans for Māori.

Ngāi Tahu

Collins claimed at the weekend Ngāi Tahu would take over 50 percent ownership of water assets in the South Island, as the government plans to reform the South Island's publicly owned water assets.

As part of the reforms, mayors have been told about a proposal for a single South Island water authority, Collins said. It would take over assets previously owned by towns and cities.

However, the claim has been denied by the chairperson of Te Kura Taka Pini, the Ngāi Tahu freshwater group, Dr Te Maire Tau, who has accused Collins of "seeking headlines".

Collins said she had not spoken to the iwi since, adding she always had good relations with Ngāi Tahu.

"They are in a stage of negotiations at this time with the government, and they're always going to want to put their best foot forward. I'm not going to tell them how to negotiate," Collins said.

Willis, however, said she understood there had been conversations between the party and Ngāi Tahu since.

"I would be of the understanding there are multiple relationships between Ngāi Tahu and the National Party," she said.

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