Whakatau 2023 | ACT Party

ACT launches campaign with vow to end co-governance

Act leader David Seymour at the party's 2023 election campaign launch in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Calvin Samuel

ACT is promising to end co-governance, which it claims comes at the expense of universal human rights.

At the party’s campaign launch at Auckland’s Civic Theatre this afternoon, party leader David Seymour said ACT would legislate that the principles of the Treaty were based on what the Treaty actually says rather than “revisionist interpretations”.

“We can ensure Māori language and culture are preserved, that every child has equal opportunity, and that the wrongs of the past are put right. Attributing separate rights through co-government will never achieve this, it only causes more division,” Seymour said in a statement.

“There is nothing in any of the three Treaty articles that suggests Māori should have special rights above other New Zealanders. The Treaty itself guarantees that ‘all the ordinary people of New Zealand ... have the same rights and duties of citizenship’.”

Seymour said his party would also repeal recent laws which gave different rights based on ethnicity, including Three Waters, and local government and health legislation.

“The public service is meant to serve all New Zealanders, but even administration and service delivery has become focussed on race. This isn’t a true focus on equity, serving citizens based on their measured need rather than their ancestry is.”

He said ACT would reorientate the public service towards a focus on equal opportunity and need “according to robust statistical evidence instead of racial targeting”.

Māori and Pasifika have regularly featured in statistics showing inequities compared to other New Zealanders. There have been many debates between political parties over how to tackle this.

Māori regularly face lower income and life expectancy, poorer education and health outcomes, and stigmatisation within health care, The Lancet health journal found in a 2019 analysis.

A 2012 Ministry of Health survey also found “persisting health inequities for Māori in New Zealand, and identify a number of challenges for improving Māori health.

The full policy is available here.

ACT is likely to be National’s coalition partner - but National party leader Christopher Luxon said while his party did not support co-governance in the public sector, there was some leeway when it came to treaty settlements.

Luxon has been campaigning in Palmerston North on Sunday morning.

He said he could only speak for his party on the issue.

“We just don’t support the co-governance of public services and that is something that has been different from what has happened in say, the previous National government, where there was co-governance in the context of treaty settlements and the management of local natural resources between iwi and also district councils and other stakeholders, and I think that worked incredibly well and I want to see more of that continue.”