National | Opinion

2024: a year for Kotahitanga

Opinion – Hūhana Lyndon, Green Party List MP based in Tai Tokerau (Green Spokesperson for Health, Māori Development, Whānau Ora and Forestry).

As I pen these whakaaro I hold our tamariki and tai tamariki close in my heart and recognise Christmas holidays are not always happy times for many in our community, pressures of the cost of living are real. Many of our whānau feel the bite of Christmas cheer.

I acknowledge those who work tirelessly to serve those most in need. I reflect on the past two weeks in our kāinga where we have lost loved ones and, in particular, our youth. There is much to consider in these trying times in how we can support our young people and their families in times of turmoil—we mourn with those who mourn.

I propose 2024 is a year for kotahitanga, for unity across te iwi Māori and our communities for good. With coalition agreements made and an ‘ambitious’ 100-Day Plan in place, the Coalition Government means business and intends to crack into significant change.

But what is this change?

The 100-Day Plan outlines 49 key actions.

Of these 49 key actions, 19 of them use language like ‘stop’, ‘repeal’, ‘abolish’, ‘cease’, ‘remove’, ‘cancel’, ‘withdraw’.

Of the 19 work programmes, legislation, or policies that the coalition government will stop or end, what is the plan to replace or improve what they are ending?

As we saw in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the coalition government threw parliament into urgency, seeing a swath of legislation put through the house with two notable repeals that will have a significant impact on te iwi Māori: the repeal of the Fair Pay Agreements Legislation and the repeal of the Natural and Built Environments and Spatial Planning Act.

Fast-tracking These two pieces of legislation will impact us on the front line—for fairer pay and working conditions and throwing hapū and iwi back into the old RMA regime with provisions for fast-tracking consents—an area where we face daily capacity challenges in the kāinga. Our people and taiao are at risk.

And there is more to come.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi 1840 and its tuakana, He Whakaputanga 1835, are our pillars as mana i te whenua. There are more challenges to come in 2024; now is a time for unity.

We have heard the cries of outrage from whānau, hapū and iwi since the changes were announced. The Kingitanga has called a Hui Taumata this month with the theme ‘Taakiri Tuu te Kotahitanga, Taakiri Tuu te Mana Motuhake’ unity together as we strive for self-determination. I am hopeful.

As an uri of Tai Tokerau and Ngā Hapū o Ngāpuhi, our kaupapa is intergenerational; e kore e tuku te mana rangatiratanga ki te Karauna, our hapū did not cede sovereignty to the Crown. Waitangi 2024 is set to be an important opportunity to uphold these values as the Kāwana joins us at the home of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

In the call for Kotahitanga, leadership is required at all levels. This isn’t a woke movement of Māori and non-Māori calling to protect Te Tiriti o Waitangi, our reo and taonga. This is upholding those things that are uniquely indigenous to Aotearoa, New Zealand. The protection of our taiao and our people requires us to stand up for tika and pono.

Titiro ki te taumata – I take a long-term view, as tangata whenua we are enduring and through many successive governments we have been impacted, and we maintain our rangatiratanga. This will not change for 2024. I am hopeful, I believe in whakapapa and in the ability to strengthen and test relationships. It’s our responsibility, it requires us to be courageous as Te Iwi Māori with the Coalition Government.

In conclusion, I return to my introduction, thinking of our kids. As a mum and uri of the North, I worry about many of the proposed legislative changes to come. I consider the health and well-being of our people as paramount, the protection of our taiao and knowing climate change is NOW, and needs us to be brave and challenge local and central government. Our future depends on Kotahitanga and upholding the articles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.