Māori Council welcomes unity in confronting government during Covid-19

3:43 pm on 15 May 2020

Māori unified to confront the government over alarming Covid-19 rules for tangi and marae, the Māori Council says.

No caption

Tino Rangatiratanga. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The government drew harsh criticism from Māori when it announced on Monday that tangi would remain limited to 10 people at alert level 2.

Within days, the rules were revoked and a new limit of 50 was set.

There was further outcry when details of the Covid-19 Health Response Bill revealed police could search marae without a warrant if they suspected people were breaking the government's Covid-19 epidemic response rules.

Whakaaro factory (Ann-Olivia Wehipeihana-Wilson) have created a symbol in protest to the governments latest announcements to stand in solidarity with Maori.

Whakaaro factory (Ann-Olivia Wehipeihana-Wilson) created this symbol in protest against the government's announcements over police enforcement powers. Photo: Supplied

Pressure from Māori saw the word marae removed from the bill, however the result of that was that marae will be treated as any other dwelling in the legislation.

Māori Council executive director Matt Tukaki said the government had missed the boat on both issues this week but he was excited to see a collective Māori voice drive change in Parliament.

"Gathering together under a unified banner to confront the government over tangi and also over the bill around the health response - long may that continue," he said.

"Part of me thinks maybe what we should be doing is spending a lot more time together otuside of the body politics to mount those campaigns as a unified force."

"What we have also seen here as well is the full and beautiful use of mana motuhake."

Tukaki said he welcomed yesterday's Budget, which included a $900 million Māori package to address the fallout of Covid-19.

The package includes $400 million for Māori education, a $137 million boost to Whānau Ora, and $200 million on a Māori Employment Package targeted at the regions.

"This is a Budget built for Māori and built for us to further advance our aspirations for a different Māori economy," he said.

Tukaki said the almost $2bn tagged for trades training and apprenticeships was also a win for Māori, especially providing free training to people between the ages of 44 and 55.

Suicide Prevention Australia and National Māori Authority chairman Matthew Tukaki.

Matthew Tukaki Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

"There is a huge amount in this package, but it is not just a $900 million vote Māori Budget, it goes as high as probably around $2 billion."

Employment Minister Willie Jackson said the $900m package for Māori was unprecedented in terms of previous Budgets.

Tukaki said it was time to develop clear plans for how to get the Māori economy back on track.