Politics | Te Pāti Māori

Te Pāti Māori: Government using ‘scare tactics’ to discourage protests on Budget Day

Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

This article was first published by RNZ.

Te Pāti Māori has accused the government of using scare tactics to discourage people from participating in protests set to take place across the country on Budget Day.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon warned that calls from the Toitū Te Tiriti movement to strike in opposition of government policy on Thursday were illegal.

Labour leader Chris Hipkins told Morning Report he encouraged people to exercise their right to free speech.

But he said calling it a “strike” suggested people were being encouraged to stop working and there were only certain conditions they could do that under.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi told Mihingarangi Forbes on RNZ’s Mata podcast Māori were entitled to participate.

Waititi said people wanting to be a part of the kaupapa needed to assert their “rangatiratanga” and employers who punish staff for attending would be challenged accordingly.

“Look, if employers want to get wrapped up in employment law, well we can wrap you up in the Bill of Rights, we can wrap you up in human rights, we can wrap you up in Tiriti breaches, lets go but we’ve got to be brave enough and start to assert rangatiratanga.”

Co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said the government’s focus on the word “strike” being illegal was an attempt to overshadow the real kaupapa behind the national call to action.

“If we stay down in the weeds with that korero , if we are scared, then we will never ever break out of this racist agenda from the kāwana and how it is treating our whānau, our whenua, yes it is challenging our own mindset, but we’ve got to rise.”

Te Kaupapa - national activation #2

Te Pāti Māori and members of the Toitū Te Tiriti movement have issued a second “National Call to Action” urging tangata whenua and tangata Tiriti to participate in a series of “activations” across the country on Budget Day.

On RNZ’s Mata, Waititi said hīkoi and rolling car blockades would take place across the country to demonstrate a unified Aotearoa response to what he described as an “assault on Māori for being Māori”.

He said the government’s budget announcement would reflect the impact of the government’s rapid dismantling of legislation upholding its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.

“We have a Pākeha government, who will announce a Pākeha budget for a Pākeha economy. For far too long we’ve allowed them to assume absolute sovereignty and governance over us. This needs to stop.”

There are calls for Māori and tangata Tiriti to strike for the day and demonstrate the “might of our Māori economy by disconnecting entirely from it”.

Waititi said the government continued to underestimate the power of the “brown economy”.

“We are the ones that make the country’s tyres turn. We are the people who are working on those trucks; driving those busses, working on the ports, working in the airports, we are the teachers, the lawyers, the doctors, the nurses. We make up a lot of the country’s GDP.”

Ngarewa-Packer said the biggest asset for the Māori economy was its people. She said the Toitū Te Tiriti movement was a “revolution” being led by Gen-T (Generation Tiriti).

“Our biggest asset is that the majority of the Māori population are under the age of 40, that is our Māori economy we have and we respect our taiao. That is our Māori economy, being sustainable and being innovative, that is our future.”

Rally, hīkoi and rolling car blockades will be held at 29 locations across the country and a hīkoi to Parliament will begin in Wellington at midday tomorrow.

Thousands responded to a National Call to Action in December last year and Waititi believes the turnout will be even bigger this time around.

Luxon warned Te Pāti Māori and the Toitū Te Tiriti movement about the rhetoric they are using.

He said people had the freedom to express their views but it would be illegal for people to “strike”.

ACT Party leader David Seymour has labelled Toitū Te Tiriti as a “small group who are fantasists about race”.

He told RNZ that he had not seen anything constructive come from the movement and his focus remained on a budget for “all New Zealanders”.