National Party leader Simon Bridges says that Maori seats and the Waitangi Tribunal should eventually go.
Bridges cited the Royal Commission in 1986, which proposed that if the country adopted the MMP system, it should abolish the Māori electorates.
That logic still stood, he said.
“We have more Māori in Parliament today than in a very long time under a MMP environment, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to impose that. . .
We not only have more Maori in parliament, we have more in senior roles – deputy Prime Minister, deputy leaders of National and Labour, and co-leader of the Greens. Only the Labour one holds a Maori seat. The National ones are there as electorate MPs in general seats, the other three are list MPs.
Ending Maori seats has been National Party policy for years. That it didn’t happen when National was last in government is due to it inviting the Maori Party into coalition.
And as Dame Tariana Turia, one of those invited into the coalition, pointed out in a discussion on Agenda in 2008 Maori seats didn’t give a Maori voice:
I think what our people are starting to realise though is that when they voted Maori people into Labour they never got a Maori voice, they got a Labour voice and that was the difference, and they’ve only begun to realise it since the Maori Party came into parliament, because it is the first time that they have heard significant Maori issues raised on a daily basis.
Maori should be asking themselves what they’ve got from this government after voting Labour MPs into all their seats.
They should also ask why they need Maori seats when there is no one Maori voice.
Maori seats have long passed their best-by date and the Waitangi Tribunal will pass its eventually too:
“When we have moved past grievance, which I hope all New Zealanders would like to see at some point in time and those historic[al] issues with settlements have been full and final, you do have to say what is the role of the Waitangi Tribunal?” he said.
While many people would say a new, updated role for the tribunal should be found, Bridges said that was not his view.
He wanted to be clear he still saw a strong role for the government in partnership iwi, hapū and Māori in general when it came to the likes of te reo and partnership schools.
The Tribunal has a role until the final Treaty settlements are made.
After that it should go so we can all get over the grievances and move on to growth, together.