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July 23, 2014

Conservatives Need a Lesson in Cultural Competency

Māori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says the Conservative Party’s policies to get rid of the Māori seats, shut down the Waitangi Tribunal and implement ‘one law for all’ are ignorant, dangerous, and are not welcome in our political system or our country.

“New Zealand needs leaders that understand that indigenous rights are human rights, that cultural diversity and representation is good for democracy, and that the constitutional basis for our nationhood lies in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We want all aspiring members of parliament to understand that dedicated Māori electorate seats distinguish our democratic process in Aotearoa,” says Mr Flavell. “The push for binding referendums by the Conservatives ties into their view around the Māori electorate seats that ‘what is good for one is good for us all.’ The Māori electorate seats are a conversation between Māori and the Crown, not for the majority of New Zealand making a decision for a minority.”

“We must not forget the first race-based law was introduced in 1858 – the English Laws Act which in one single statute imposed the culture, customs and conventions of Britain on all New Zealanders. We have been in catch-up mode ever since, trying to build a more representative parliament that encompasses all New Zealanders, not just those with a British passport. There is such competition to vie for votes based on drawing out inflammatory attitudes that unfortunately are still prevalent in some quarters. Politicians have a responsibility to educate and inform, not act in such a way as to provoke incite racial division and tension.”

“The Māori seats have been an important mechanism to try to protect and develop Māori interests, and Colin Craig needs to know that his party has no right to step in and try to take the rights away from tangata whenua – only tangata whenua have that right to determine what is in our best interests,” says Dr Pita Sharples.

“Labour has tried in the past through the Foreshore and Seabed Act and by opposing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People – and look how that went down. We have been down that track before and we do not want a repeat run. The reality is the New Zealand Government – after advocacy from the Māori Party – signed up to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People in 2010 and it is here to stay.”

“It is so disappointing, in 2014, to hear the rhetoric espousing ideals of a vanilla nation, ‘beyond the colour of our neighbour’s skin’,” says Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Māori Party. “The Māori Party has always been proud to initiate initiatives around cultural competency in health, in education and across the social sector. Culture counts. We do not want to ignore or render irrelevant the rich cultural diversity that characterises our communities.”

“We have had over 170 years of attempts of assimilation from various politicians and political parties, and we continue to suffer the consequences of that policy to this day. The old assimilation policy is hidden behind a few new terms and slogans, such as One Law for All, but the intention is the same and we know all about it. In this day and age there is no place for political leaders who know nothing about our history and know nothing about us. There is no excuse for being ignorant and we the people will never ever tolerate policies that aim at taking things away from us without our informed consent. No more.”

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