5 Dec 2023

Government committed to a partnership with Māori - Minister for Māori Development Tama Potaka

9:13 am on 5 December 2023
Tama Potaka

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Minister for Māori Development Tama Potaka says he strongly disagrees with criticism that the government is "anti-Maori".

He has also denied his government is not interested in a partnership with Māori, saying it would in fact be even more committed to working alongside Māori but would be looking to do it in a way that was not in the form of a centralised bureaucracy.

His comments come in the wake of thousands of protesters gathering at centres around the North Island to protest against the new government's plans to use mainly English names for government departments and agencies, abolish the Māori Health Authority and undertake a review of all legislation that includes Treaty principles.

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Potaka told Morning Report the Labour government has wreaked three years of economic vandalism against all communities, including Māori.

The high price of food, rents and petrol as well as high inflation and interest rates had hurt them and would be turned around by the new government.

He agreed there were some cultural disadvantages for Māori in areas such as health and housing.

"We will work closely with iwi, Māori and other community leaders to try and get away from the big bureaucracy solutions that have been proliferated under the recent Labour government."

He added: "What we believe more in is decentralising and devolution and engaging with those leaders. Whānau Ora is a great example of that."

He believed the new government would "lean in" more to a partnership with Māori rather than "a big bureaucratic solution to everything".

It was untrue the National-led government would strip away the concept of partnership, he said.

Potaka said he supported a review of all legislation, including references to Treaty principles, to a Parliamentary select committee.

Under the ACT bill on Treaty principles National would be encouraging a discussion on the "big challenges" facing Māori, he said.

He was expecting tens of thousands of submissions to the select committee.

Potaka was asked about the government's plans to remove section 7AA in the Oranga Tamariki law which concerns the uplift of children. It allowed iwi and hapū to be involved in the best placement of children.

He responded Oranga Tamariki and other organisations would continue to work alongside iwi and other organisations around the welfare and best outcomes for young people.

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