Politics | Parliament

‘We’ve got to be talked to, not walked over’ - John Tamihere ahead of nationwide protests


Te Pāti Māori president John Tamihere says a national “Call to Action” planned for tomorrow is a response to what he calls a coalition government anchored on anti-Māori sentiment.

“We either lie down after 35 years of winning incremental, slow, painful change and then all of a sudden it gets turned over inside of three years by a minority-majority government.”

A series of ‘carkoi’ have been planned across the country, with the intention of disrupting traffic flows in many centres, including Tāmaki Makaurau, Wellington, Hamilton, Palmerston North and many regional centres for Tuesday morning. He says the intention and the timing of the nationwide protests is to send a powerful message to Wellington as Parliament opens its 54th term.

“So we’ll what happens tomorrow. I don’t have any feeling for how good the turnout will be. But the beauty about is it’s not a march on Wellington. It’s turning out in your own ‘hood’ whether it be in Kaitāia or Kaikohe or Dargaville or Whangārei or wherever to just show that we are there ready to do something that says ‘we’ve got to be talked to, not walked over’.”

‘Putting us back 50 years’

Tamihere tells there are too many policies to be introduced by the coalition government to list but one in particular he is frustrated with is the proposal to remove section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act, which ensures tamariki put into the care of Oranga Tamariki are connected to and know their whakapapa.

“That immediately puts us back 50 years. For the first time in the history of this nation, the Crown was obliged to enter into partnerships with Māori in regard to whānau whānui, hapū and iwi solutions where we love our children and those that are in difficulty with them and we build our own system around that rather than using non-Māori systems, take all the resources and fail us and then ultimately we get blamed for the failure.”

“It is a proxy for everything else that they are doing, from winding back the clock on the Māori language, which has been an official language in this country since 1987. So the coalition is founded and anchored on what they all agreed with first, which was anti-Māori sentiment and they’ve built their coalition off of that base.”

Labour Māori development spokesman Willie Jackson says he isn’t surprised Māori are taking action so early under the new government.

‘Good on them’

Last month, while coalition talks were being finalised between National, ACT and NZ First, Jackson warned Māori would not take too kindly to any perceived attacks on kaupapa Māori.

“To everyone, this government has come in and come out with some really sad ideas in terms of where Māori fit in this country. I think there is a huge frustration among our people.

“While they’re not rolling out a referendum, you’ve got attacks on te reo Māori, attacks on the Māori Health Authority, there are question marks in terms of Māori funding, and there is a huge level of frustration amongst our people at the moment. I say good on them,” Jackson says.

While the action is intended to cause public disruption, Tamihere is calling on those participating to do so in a legal and disciplined manner.

“As the anti-vaccinators did, as the freedoms people did as the anti-three waters did. Māori have the same rights as Pākehā to legal protest and we intend to test that up and down the country at short notice. It will be amazing to see what occurs tomorrow at such short notice to see exactly what capability and capacity the Māori nation has up and down the country.”

Aroha and peace reminder for Wellington

The leaders of Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika are urging protestors to observe tikanga during their presence in the capital on Tuesday

“Our tribal leaders laid down Te Kahu o Te Raukura during the occupation of Parliament grounds last year, and it remains in place today,” chairperson Te Whatanui Winiata says.

”Te Kahu o Te Raukura consists of three feathers representing honour, peace, and goodwill. It is symbolic of aroha and peace over our ancestral whenua which reflects our core principles and tikanga as Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika,” Winiata says.

“Taranaki Whānui acknowledges kaupapa that are expressed through the form of protesting within their takiwā.

”Taranaki Whānui will continue to advocate for the rights of our people, while also asserting our tikanga and respecting the rights and interests of others.”

Mr Winiata said there will be continuing kōrero and hui among Māoridom to collectively determine a way to maintain and uphold the rights and interests of all people.

Police Assistant Commissioner Sandar Venables confirmed Police are aware of the planned protests, and are preparing for the disruptions.

Police are working with organisers to provide advice on lawful protest, as well as any health and safety implications and officers will be highly visible across the roading network throughout the morning and, in some locations, will put measures in place to prevent protestors putting themselves and motorists in harm’s way.

Unlawful behaviour will result in enforcement action, either at the time or following the event if safety issues prevent immediate action.

Venebales says motorists in these areas are advised to plan ahead to mitigate any disruption to their travel, while anyone travelling to the airport or has any other time-sensitive commitment is advised to allow more time for their journey.

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