Politics | Treaty

Pacific people more concerned about rent and food than Treaty bill - Pacific Blues

National’s Pacific Blues chair Christian Malietoa-Brown talks about the repercussions of the time spent on discussion of the Treaty of Waitangi from their side.

The head of Pacific Blues, a National Party group, says he would have handled the treatment of ACT’s proposed Treaty of Waitangi bill differently.

Chairperson Christian Malietoa-Brown says that instead of National getting involved it should have left it to ACT leader David Seymour to figure it out on his own.

“I would’ve just given him (Seymour) a referendum and said ‘it’s all you, you do it by yourself’.

“Now, because it’s a bill, it’s under the government’s name, the government sponsoring this bill as part of the coalition negotiations, so now we are forced to take it through the first reading and the select committee and now it’s a government bill because of this stupid negotiation,” he says

Seymour has been campaigning to make changes to the Treaty of Waitangi principles to suit a more modern New Zealand.

Opposition parties and many Māori communities don’t want it touched but the more it’s talked about the more the government may have to go into a referendum and ask the country if it wants this to happen, he says.

Malietoa-Brown says it’s hard watching the Treaty of Waitangi get so much attention from the three coalition partners, as it steals focus off other major issues.

“It’s funny because when you watch on Twitter the right-wing people think the left is dividing the country, the left think that the right is dividing the country. The fact is both sides are dividing if you’re really honest.

“It’s because there’s been a lack of dialogue and a lack of discussion that’s actually seeking understanding and that’s actively seeking a resolution,” he says.

Among other things, the Pacific Blues are responsible for bringing in more Pacific members as the party lacks diversity.

Malietoa-Brown says that based on conversations in his community, Pacific people aren’t worried too much about the Treaty.

“They’re thinking of gas and food and rent and stuff. It’s just a certain class of the political part of the Pacific and the activist class of the Pacific [worrying about the treaty]..

Because when you got bills to pay and people to feed and you’re struggling to do that, I don’t think you worry so much about a lot of other stuff. It’s the certain class above that that has the privilege of thinking about these things.”