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Māori cabinet minister defends Coalition despite concerns over leaked documents

Alakihihifo Vailala

Minister Potaka dedicated to defending Māori despite leaked documents saying otherwise.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Māori Development Minister Tama Potaka is defending his government’s proposals to introduce a bill that may threaten the rights of Māori.

Potaka is in Rātana attending the annual event with his National team, led by Prime Minister Chris Luxon.

Last week, Ministry of Justice documents were leaked about a proposed bill by the coalition government, which includes three new principles based on the articles of the Treaty.

These documents were leaked on the same day of Kīngi Tuheitia’s nationwide hui-a-motu which was held over concerns about the new government’s policies on indigenous rights.

“These principles include giving the government the right to govern all New Zealanders and giving rangatiratanga or chieftainship to all New Zealanders,” the documents said.

Critics have said these proposals will become a threat to Māori rights to mana motuhake.

But Potaka, who is also Minister for Māori Crown relations, says the document is just a draft and is something he has yet to see.

‘Dedicated to protecting te reo Maori’

With the proposed bill criticised as posing a threat to rangatiratanga or Māori chieftainship, Potaka says rangatiratanga does not come from a document.

“What our tipuna signed was actually just an affirmation of what already existed, which was rangatiratanga. Our rangatiratanga does not come from a document, it does not come from the government. It comes from our tipuna, it comes from our maunga and our awa.”

Potaka says he’s dedicated to protecting te reo Māori in his role as Maori development minister.

“The first thing I’m going to do is to speak Māori more and more often… particularly in the Whare Paremata (House of Parliament).”

“We are working very hard to understand the impacts of where the most recent government have left us financially and I’m determined on making sure that we tautoko through the government budget processes coming up.”

Hero image: Māori Development Minister Tama Potaka at the Rata Church celebration Photo / Te Ao News

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