NZ Election 2020: Hauraki-Waikato candidates quizzed on if Māori flag should always fly on public buildings

Two candidates hoping to represent the electorate of Hauraki-Waikato have been quizzed on whether the Māori flag should be consistently flown on public buildings.

The Māori flag, which is known as the tino rangatiratanga flag, was unveiled at Waitangi in 1990 on the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

But it wasn't until 2010, that the flag began officially flying on "significant sites" like the Auckland Harbour Bridge and government buildings on Waitangi Day.

On Wednesday night, at The Hui's Hauraki-Waikato electorate debate, host Mihingarangi Forbes asked the two candidates whether they would commit to flying the Māori flag alongside the New Zealand flag on all public buildings every day.

"Often that is the case and has happened during Waitangi Day. Many councils are looking to do that voluntarily," Labour's Nanaia Mahuta responded.

Forbes pushed Mahuta on the question, but the incumbent electorate MP wouldn't commit. She said she supported the mana of hapu and iwi "to fly their flag".

"What I know is that councils have relationships with their local hapu and iwi, and it would be a conversation to be had. I think in the Waikato we have a flag that we absolutely would like to see."

The Māori Party's Donna Pokere-Phillips was unequivocal when asked.

"Absolutely, and I would celebrate the day that that happens," she said.

The decision to fly the Māori flag on Waitangi Day was made under the previous National-led Government after Māori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples undertook consultation on what Māori  flag should be flown.

More than 1200 submissions were received, with 80 percent favouring the tino rangatiratanga flag as the preferred national Māori flag.

"The Māori flag will not replace the New Zealand flag, but fly alongside it, to recognise the partnership the Crown and Māori entered into when signing the Treaty of Waitangi.  No changes are being made to the status of the New Zealand flag," then-Prime Minister John Key said at the time.

Dr Sharples - co-leader of the Māori Party which provided confidence and supply to National - said flying the flag was a "simple way to recognise the status of Māori as tangata whenua and their contribution to New Zealand". 

"Flying the Māori flag symbolises the Crown-Māori relationship which has grown out of the Treaty."

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