• Ngāti Kahungunu to call meeting across its regions to discuss way forward with new Government

Ngāti Kahungunu to call meeting across its regions to discuss way forward with new Government

Ngāti Kahungunu will call a meeting across all of its six taiwhenua (regions) to discuss its approach moving forward amid concern about the new National-led Government’s direction.

The iwi will also invite the coalition Government to meet with them.

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated Chair, Bayden Barber attended the Kīngitanga’s 165th-year commemoration in Auckland over the weekend.  Kīngi Tūheitia took the opportunity to discuss with iwi leaders that attended how to best organise ourselves and resources to respond to the attacks.

In a statement, Barber said: “It’s in our best interests that we meet as Ngāti Kahungunu to discuss how we move forward in light of the government’s position statements thus far. We will look to call a hui-ā-iwi in the next few weeks with the hope that a larger meeting of all Māori will be called by Kīngi Tūheitia not long afterward.”

This came as thousands gathered for nationwide protests, organised by Te Pāti Māori, against Government protests viewed as “anti-Māori”. Te Pāti Māori has indicted that the protest could be one of many this parliamentary term. In Hastings about 200 people gathered to protest.

Police said this morning that protesters were beginning to disperse around the country and, although traffic had been disrupted, the events were peaceful and no arrests were made.

Maori, including iwi, have reacted to the new coalition government’s first joint announcement, in which they said they would remove the Māori Health Authority, Māori wards in local government, Māori involvement in the governance of natural resources, Māori language in government departments, the right of Māori children to be kept in their own whānau, government services being delivered to Māori, Smokefree New Zealand, the jurisdiction of the Waitangi Tribunal, and Māori rights under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Barber says: “Astonishingly, this government has focused so early on removing policies designed to improve Māori health and wellbeing outcomes. Our life expectancy is already 8 years shorter than non-Māori so their stance on smoke-free policy and the health reforms designed to improve this situation is disgraceful.”

With regard to a review of Treaty principles within existing government legislation, Barber said: “My ancestor Harawira Mahikai signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  As signatories to Te Tiriti o Waitangi we would expect that there would be clear engagement and that any “review” of Te Tiriti principles or anything like unto it would need to be agreed by all parties.  This hasn’t happened, so we will fight this to the highest court if need be.”

Barber says the government’s statements have been seen by many as a frontal attack on Māori.

“We will not stand by and let this just happen”, says Barber.

With regard to today’s protests, Barber says protests will “naturally form part of a multi-pronged response.

“Many people understandably have deep feelings already and are eager to express them. This is a three-year marathon, not a sprint.  A sensible and wise government would sit down and talk to its treaty partner rather than unilaterally remove our hard-won legal rights. We invite this government to come to Ngāti Kahungunu and meet with us.  Mā te ihu me te rae ka tau te rangimārie, it is through face-to-face dialogue that solutions are best found.”

In an earlier interview with Hawke’s Bay App, Barber said he would directly raise issues of concerns with the new government.

In an interview with Hawke’s Bay App, Barber said he had some concerns about what the new Government planned to do.

Asked if he would use the Iwi Leadership Forum to raise his concerns, Barber was clear that he would engage directly with new ministers.

“I'll be looking to engage directly as the chair of Ngāti Kahungunu. It's always good to get new Governments around the table. Kanohi ki te kanohi

“We will engage as iwi chairs, but I'll be looking for opportunities to engage as the chair of Ngāti Kahungunu. We met as regional leaders last week at a collaboration hui, and there are big issues that we as the region's leaders, mayors, and the chair of the regional council need to sit down and discuss with the incoming government. Three waters would be one of them, and how we could look at our regional model.”

Barber says he was also keen to see the new Government’s appetite for regional deals where “we can look at strategic opportunities to work with government”.

“I think there will be opportunities to engage with the ministers, now that we know who they are. It'd be good to have them come up here, but everyone's trying to get a piece of the new government.”

“Certainly Iwi chairs will have an opportunity at Waitangi in the north in February, and we'll be lining up some of our key concerns to put in front of the government. And as you would imagine, the Treaty of Waitangi will be at the top of the list.”