'It's a deliberate strategy to erase us' – Whanganui iwi prepare for national hui

Posted 1 January 1970 by Moana Ellis
Whanganui iwi leader Ken Mair.

Whanganui iwi leader Ken Mair. Photo: LDR / Moana Ellis

Whanganui and neighbouring iwi will travel to Ngāruawāhia at the weekend to meet with the Kiingitanga and other iwi concerned about the plans of the new coalition government.

Iwi leaders are expected to travel from across the country to Tūrangawaewae Marae on Saturday in response to Te Paki o Matariki, a royal proclamation issued by Kiingi Tuheitia late last year, calling for all iwi to unite.

Whanganui iwi leader Ken Mair said there was a strong desire by Māori around the country to take action against the new government’s policies and plans.

“I’ve never seen this concerted effort to undermine all the good work that our tūpuna have done in the past in this way … this attack right across the board, whether it’s our language, the Tiriti o Waitangi, health, smoking. It’s a deliberate strategy to basically erase us from legislation and policies.

“I think they’ve opened up a can of worms, [they’ve] opened up the bare cupboard.”

Te Paki o Matariki is the highest form of royal proclamation and the first issued by Kiingi Tuheitia in more than a decade. It came a day after nationwide protests against the new government’s moves to end co-governance policy and reinterpret the Treaty of Waitangi.

Mair said Whanganui iwi would be at Tūrangawaewae to listen.

“Everybody has the right to do what they believe is correct in trying to pull this government into line. I don’t know what to expect from that hui except that the king, te ariki Tumu and the Rātana tumuaki … will take the message from the hui to carry the mauri around the country.

“I suspect there’ll be quite a few actions, some co-ordinated, some not.”

Te Korowai o Wainuiārua chair Aiden Gilbert.

Te Korowai o Wainuiārua chair Aiden Gilbert. Photo: LDR / Moana Ellis

Te Korowai o Wainuiārua chairperson Aiden Gilbert said a group would travel from the central North Island to represent the three iwi Uenuku, Tamakana and Tamahaki.

He said the iwi collective’s main concerns were the dialling back of Resource Management Act reforms in which Māori seemed to have “more say”, and impacts on freshwater policy Te Mana o Te Wai.

Gilbert said there were many Labour reforms Te Korowai o Wainuiārua did not want reversed and he was concerned that the new government could have further repeals in mind.

“They haven’t started yet. They’ll start in March with their portfolios. We’ll get a clearer view in March, April, May.”

In an interview with RNZ on Tuesday, New Zealand First deputy leader Shane Jones said the national hui of iwi could turn into a “moan session”.

“What the country voted for was a revamp and a reset, and a reset’s on the way,” he said.

Jones told RNZ the strengthening te reo Māori should happen around the kitchen table, and not in government documents.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.