Govt promises to close the gaps - but not by targeting Māori

The Government has promised to close the gaps between Māori and Pākehā, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it won't be doing that by targeting Māori. 

"We are specifically targeting things like poverty. An actual by-product of that is it will positively impact Māori," she said when asked whether Māori should be targeted with affirmative action in an effort to level out rates of inequality. 

The comments came after Ms Ardern made an historic speech from Waitangi's Te Whare Runanga. She's the first female Prime Minister to be given speaking rights during the pōwhiri.

During the speech, Ms Ardern talked about the distance between Māori and Pākehā.

"The distance between here and there is unemployment, poverty that exists among whānau, those who don't have access to mental health services, incarceration of the Māori people disproportionate to everyone else," Ms Ardern said.

"That is the distance. I believe in our power to change."

But the Government won't attempt to close those gaps by taking affirmative action for Māori.

"We should put extra emphasis wherever there are disproportionate figures. There are disproportionately more Māori represented in poverty and unemployment and in our health statistics," Ms Ardern said when asked whether the Government will target Māori.

"What we came here to say, though, is we don't have all the answers on our own. This is not about Government coming in and posing solutions. We know what the problems are, and we've got to work on them together," she said.

Labour's coalition partner New Zealand First has had a long-standing opposition to "race-based" policies, such as affirmative action.



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