Politics | National Iwi Chairs Forum

Chris Luxon: ‘We’re not going to agree on everything’

Government coalition leaders discussed the Treaty of Waitangi “for a long time” today at the National Iwi Chairs Forum, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon says.

Prime Minister Chris Luxon (National), David Seymour (Act), and Shane Jones (NZ First) talked to iwi leaders on what Seymour says were 11 topics.

The forum started with a pōwhiri at the Turner Centre in Te Tai Tokerau followed by back-and-forth discussions for much of the day.

Luxon says he stood by his claims at Rātana last week that National did not wish to make amendments to the Treaty of Waitangi.

“I don’t know how many times I have to mention this but the bottom line is that there is no commitment, no intention, and no support to take the bill beyond the first reading. It’s part of our coalition agreement and that’s been our position.”

Established in 2005, the National Iwi Chairs Forum has a primary objective of enhancing mana motuhake - emphasising autonomy and self-governance.

Luxon says attending this hui and hearing out iwi leaders is an important step toward the government’s working relationship with Māori.

“I thought it was a very positive and constructive meeting. There was a good challenge from both sides but, importantly, I leave there feeling very encouraged that we can do business; that we can actually get on and put the programmes in place and programmes delivered to get the better outcomes that we want to see for Māori and non-Māori up and down the country.”

Seymour, who has previously shied away from meeting leaders from Ngāpuhi who he has whakapapa to, had no choice but to be there.

He says it was an interesting experience as he was not expecting to get some of the reception he got.

“After the speeches, just going around ‚having a bit of kai, talking to people ‚really mixed reactions, people asking for selfies saying, ‘I got to show this to my kids because you’ve changed my mind’ and other people say ‘We’ll never agree because we don’t want one person, one vote’. But I think actually we’re in a very good place.”

At some point the government will put the Treaty of Waitangi through the first reading, which means, after a debate, the House decides whether to start discussing the bill by voting on it.

If most members say yes, the bill goes to a committee that looks at it, listens to public opinions, and reports back to the House about it.

Luxon says he thinks he has made this clear to iwi leaders but other topics weren’t approved. “We’re not going to agree on everything, we’re just not.

“We’ll have differences on the best way to deliver those outcomes but I can tell you my overarching impression of that meeting was incredibly positive, very constructive and there was goodwill on both sides to want to make this work incredibly well and quite excited about the prospects of what we can do together in the coming years.”

The forum ends today as the coalition government makes its way to Waitangi for possibly more Māori kaupapa discussions.