Winston Peters wants to rename Te Whatu Ora to Health New Zealand and change “every government department [name] back to English”. Photo / Michael Cunningham / NZME
NZ First leader Winston Peters is warning of a “conniving, cultural cabal” using Māori to “further their own agenda”, as he proposes stripping government departments of te reo names, mandatory prison sentences for people who assault first responders and more funding for frontline agencies.
Peters also claims the government is “furiously trying to put co-governance on the backburner” but believes Labour and National MPs still believe in the plan as a central aspect of the government’s Three Waters legislation, which is currently being reviewed amid Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ refocusing on the cost of living crisis.
The party leader gave his state of nation address in the Auckland suburb of Howick this afternoon, urging those in the audience to “take our country back” while referencing national issues including the cost of living, education, health, crime, climate change and division racial division.
Peters’ speech contained several policies, including renaming Te Whatu Ora (Health New Zealand) and changing “every government department back to English”.
“This is not an attack on the Māori language – it is an attack on the elite virtue signalers who have hijacked the language for their own socialist means. This conceited, conniving, cultural cabal doesn’t represent hard-working ordinary Māori - they only seek to use Māori to further their own agenda,” he said.
Decrying the current level of crime, Peters promised that, if he is elected, anyone who assaulted a police officer, paramedic, firefighter or Corrections officer while on duty would receive a mandatory six-month prison sentence.
Being part of a gang would also be an “automatic aggravating factor” in sentencing, Peters said.
That added to Peters’ commitment to ban gang patches in public, which he announced late last year after National had announced it would do the same.
Peters said his party would also further fund St John, Plunket, Mike King’s Gumboot Friday charity, rescue helicopters, surf lifesaving and Pharmac - but did send a message to the last.
“We will ensure Pharmac has more funds to get the medication to the people that need it most – but the first thing we are going to do is sort Pharmac out. It will concentrate on performance not puffery.”