22 Aug 2023

Episode 16: Shane Jones on the Treaty, Toilets and Teeth - August 22nd - Mata

From Mata with Mihingarangi Forbes , 5:00 pm on 22 August 2023

Shane Jones outlines NZ First’s campaign to re enter parliament - their policies and priorities, including their controversial transgender toilet policy. Then we hear from commentators Tau Henare and Bernie O’Donnell.

New Zealand First's campaign slogan 'Take back our country' is focused on five key issues: Taking a stand against racist separatism; fighting Australian owned banks and a supermarket duopoly; investing in health, social services and crime prevention; tax reform; and taking on the gangs.

NZ First is also promising to ban trans women from women's toilets and to make English an official language of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Jones was part of a group which petitioned the government to "give effect to the aspirations" of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1978. 

Jones said a lot of what they set out to achieve in terms of the Treaty had been delivered upon.

"Where I've ended up parting company is the way in which the Treaty has been, I feel unhinged from its moorings... and now it's used as a justification for every inequity that befalls us as a people."

Te Māngai Pāho

Te Māngai Pāho Photo: Te Māngai Pāho

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Photo: supplied

It was impossible to deal with issues such as higher Māori mortality rates, truancy and prison rates simply by invoking the Treaty, he said.

"I genuinely feel that with the ideological fervour driving for co-governance, it has the capacity to weaken our status as a nation."

New Zealand had some big internal challenges and there was the potential for Sino-American conflict in the Pacific, he said.

"I'm very worried about internal bickering undermining our capacity and our robustness as a nation."

The best way to deal with inequities for Māori was by providing diverse delivery of services on the front line, he said.

"If you judge the quality of the service based on the outcome that's positive, but if you pretend by invoking the name of the Treaty and dredging up yet more tribunal reports, you're going to improve the quality of front-line service - I thoroughly disagree with that."

On the banning of trans women from women's toilets, Jones said there had been "no shortage of people" that had told the party it was an issue that needed to be addressed.

Jones said he believed attaching Māori names to organisations was tokenism in that doing so did not provide any corresponding improvement in services for Māori.

"The frequent and ubiquitous usage of our language by people, who probably don't even speak our language, in giving an identity which is not reflective of its capacity to service not only Māori but the broader situation."

Asked whether New Zealand First believed climate change was real, Jones said there was a need to stop "the shrill inflammatory language on climate change and focus on climate adaptation".

Jones asked why, if preventing climate change was so urgent, the law had not been changed to expedite the remedies to introduce more clean green energy.

"Of course we've got to respond to volatile weather and volatile weather is El Niño, La Niña, the changing fortunes of climate. But I don't buy into this notion that we've got to hollow out the economy, close down industries to save the climate."

Shane Jones believes the Treaty of Waitangi is now "used as a justification for every inequity that befalls our people".

Shane Jones believes the Treaty of Waitangi is now "used as a justification for every inequity that befalls our people".  Photo: Screenshot / Mata

'We've just got to mobilise our people to go out and vote' - O'Donnell

Labour Party member Bernie O'Donnell and former Māori Affairs Minister Tau Henare both agreed Jones was able to spin a "great yarn".

Henare said that was due to his manner, education and experience in the Māori world.

But Henare said that the saddest thing was that New Zealand First chose to bag its own people when it was running in a general parliamentary seat.

"At the end of the day I applaud people who get off their jacksies and do mahi for their people and get results."

Henare said he felt sorry for Labour because of the events they had to deal with that they were not in control of.

"But at the end of the day Labour, and I think they're suffering from it, they had a majority in the House and they could of done anything they wanted to."

Henare said he was still picking a hung Parliament, post-election.

O'Donnell said Jones "walks a te ao Māori pathway but then espouses something different".

In terms of health, Jones was still trying to fix people up once the damage had been done, O'Donnell said.

"The wellbeing space, the hau ora space which drives people like Winston [Peters] crazy because of these new labels, talks about early intervention, uses the Whare Tapa Whā (Mental Health Foundation)... as a guideline for us to start to intervene before our people get sick and that's part of the te tiriti journey."

O'Donnell said Labour had been having a tough time but had not helped itself. A number of issues had distracted the party from its purpose of telling people why it was still important and reinforcing its record, he said.

Labour was on track but had had to endure two massive weather events, as well as having two years of Covid-19, he said.