By Taiha Molyneux, Māori news editor
More than 2000 people gathered in Tauranga on Tuesday to support Toitū Te Tiriti led by Ngāi Te Rangi in response to the national call to action opposing government policies impacting Māori.
Ngāi Te Rangi chief executive Paora Stanley said the turnout exceeded expectations and collaborative efforts with police ensured people's safety and helped minimise disruption.
"We had about two and a half thousand people and you know a lot of people are just pretty keen and pretty happy about getting out there and articulating their concern at what the government is doing, and they want to be able to do that by physically turning up which is a very Māori way of doing it."
Stanley said Ngāi Te Rangi have 17 specific areas of concern regarding recent government policy announcements.
He said he was baffled by the decision to review vital schemes like MAPAS, which provides targeted support to Māori and Pacific medical and health science students at Auckland and Otago University.
"They're going to review and obviously do away with that and that's been operating since 1972. It's a struggle getting Māori doctors at any time and then having a scheme that's set up to help increase the numbers there, to lose that is quite a big loss."
A bright and bold generation of rangatahi and tamariki Māori were becoming more visible and vocal at events like the one on Tuesday and dismissing Māori would not make them go away, he said.
"We've got a whole different group coming through now, a group that you would not normally see at these types of events and that's a good thing. We are training up a whole new group of battlers, a new invigorated group."