Politics | Christopher Luxon

'What do we do about that radical organisation, the Waitangi Tribunal?': Luxon responds to Māori-related questions at public meeting

Christopher Luxon speaking at his "Back on Track" public meeting in Birkenhead. Photo / Alex Burton / NZ Herald

National leader Christopher Luxon has revealed views on several Māori-related matters during question time at a public meeting on Auckland's North Shore on Wednesday, a NZ Herald report says.

Luxon was speaking at the first in a nationwide series called “Get NZ Back on Track” at Birkenhead Bowling Club where about 250 people gathered to hear him deliver a half-hour speech on his three priorities - “fix the economy”, “restore law and order”, and “improve health and education outcomes”.

But most of the questions he received afterwards were expressed as complaints about other issues, especially race relations and the role of Māori in society, the NZ Herald says.

“Where do you stand on the fact that the Māori language is given priority?” asked a woman called Rita, who said she had emigrated from Britain 20 years ago. The audience applauded.

Luxon made it clear his party stood for “one person, one vote”. It would “scrap the Māori Health Authority” and say “no to co-governance and separate systems”.

“That is not to say you can’t have innovation within the system,” he added. He gave the example of charter schools, some of which had a clear Māori focus.

Part of the audience for Christopher Luxon's public meeting in Birkenhead. Photo / Alex Burton / NZ Herald

But on the language, the NZ Herald says, he told the largely elderly and overwhelmingly Pākehā audience: “I want to remind you that the average age in this country is 38. That means most of us came through school with some degree of familiarity with the use of te reo.”

However, with some Government agencies using Māori names, he said it could be “really difficult and really unfair when people don’t know who to contact”.

“Having said that,” he added, “if you want to learn te reo, that’s fantastic. I’m trying to do it myself.”

Another questioner asked: “What do we do about that radical organisation, the Waitangi Tribunal, which has done nothing to assist race relations?” He was applauded too.

Luxon responded that his party wanted to “improve outcomes for Māori and non-Māori”. He suggested most Māori are more concerned with the cost of living than co-governance.

But, he added, “Māori rangatira have tended to do a good job administering local resources”. He didn’t explain how that relates to co-governance.

He said: “Most New Zealanders are on board with the Treaty process,” but then said “We need to move on” and “the thing that unites us is being Kiwis first and foremost. That will be my approach.”

Asked later if he was worried about the nature of the questions, Luxon said it was important to “disagree without being disagreeable”.

From time to time, the NZ Herald says he slipped into hyperbole, including Waka Kotahi is "spending all its money on te reo road signs."

In fact, Waka Kotahi spends most of its money on maintaining and upgrading state highways.