5 May 2021

He Puapua report: Māori Development Minister wants public buy-in

10:21 am on 5 May 2021

Concerns about the He Puapua report - on how to better uphold indigenous rights - are being dismissed by Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson.

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Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Jackson has prepared a draft paper, setting out the next steps the government could take in response to He Puapua, which he says will go to Cabinet soon.

He Puapua was handed to former minister for Māori development Nanaia Mahuta in 2019 and suggests the establishment of a separate Māori parliament or upper house and a separate court. The government has never released the full report publicly and, because it has never been to Cabinet, it has not agreed a position on it.

The National and ACT parties were unimpressed, saying the report was separatist and divisive, but Jackson said it that was not the case.

"There's a big process to go through still, as you have heard. We had our treaty minister Andrew Little say he hasn't even read it so I've got a big process to go through. I've got to circulate this with Cabinet and after that we have to lay down a strategy in terms of the public.

"We want the public buying into this, this is about what we are going to do in terms of the country, the future, what's the partnership like? What are indigenous rights about? So there's so much to do. It's not about just circulating a document...

"We have to be responsible, we will be responsible and every New Zealander will get a say in this."

Jackson wanted to make it clear He Puapua was not a government report.

"This is an independent group who has done some good work. We thank them for their work... this is an independent report separate to government policy."

As for the delay since the report was handed to Mahuta, Jackson said "between 2019 and 2021 we have had a general election, we've had two or three lockdowns, a change of government, that's why things have been held up".

Criticism by the National Party came from a party "desperate" to gain votes, Jackson said.

"National... is clearly not the party of John Key anymore, the National who supported so many Māori issues like Kohanga Reo, treaty settlements process, it's unbelievable, the type of issues they have supported. They take everything out of context, we want to do everything in an orderly fashion and honour our obligations in terms of the United Nations...

"They have had amnesia themselves. They have forgot that they - John Key and Judith Collins - signed up to the United Nations document in terms of indigenous peoples in 2010.

"In 2014, they talked about working towards a plan. Why this is different is because race relations and partnership and the Treaty - they are all very contentious areas and parties go down a very dishonest track at times when it comes to these sorts of documents, that's what the National Party is doing here."

As for ACT Party leader David Seymour's comment's on the issue, Jackson said he was "talking absolute, total nonsense".

"People shouldn't get scared and listen to the rubbish coming from David Seymour. He doesn't know what he's talking about."

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