ACT MP Karen Chhour takes patu to Labour MP Willie Jackson for accusing New Zealand of 'institutional racism'

ACT is accusing Labour MP Willie Jackson of "perpetuating a victimhood mentality" for saying we have "institutional racism" in "every area of New Zealand society".

Appearing on Newshub Nation on Saturday morning, the Māori Development Minister said Māori have been singled out, underfunded and sidelined.

"It's not just in the justice system - it's been in the health system, we've talked justice, we've had Oranga Tamariki, it's in the media - we've been sidelined in the media," he said.

"So in every area of New Zealand society, we have institutional racism. It's one of the reasons I came into politics... I got sick and tired of our people being singled out."

But ACT's Social Development and Children spokesperson Karen Chhour calls these "inflammatory comments" which will "only perpetuate a victimhood mentality".

"Constantly blaming racism for the problems faced by Māori is wrong. We can't move forward as a nation if that is our only response," she says in a statement.

"Rather than using such divisive language, our Government should be uniting New Zealanders behind good ideas that lift everyone up.

"Jackson's comments also promote a narrative that all Māori are the same and that we don't have our own individual aspirations."

Jackson warned that this 'institutional racism' won't end until there is more funding for "by Māori, for Māori" solutions, and cited Oranga Tamariki as an example.

"We had all the criticism in terms of the racism... this Government has responded," said Jackson.

"We've got an all-Māori board, a Māori chair, we've got an interim Māori CEO, and there's a plan in terms of by Māori, for Māori funding. So I think we're finding our way through this. We've got a Prime Minister and a Government who are committed to change." 

But Chhour criticised Jackson, saying Labour had shown it doesn't believe in 'by Māori, for Māori' solutions in the past.

"[Jackson's] waatea (organisation) sponsored a charter school, but his own party completely opposed the concept and shut it down," Chhour says.

"Labour likes to believe it is the saviour of Māori, but it clearly has no idea how to fix our country's deeply-ingrained problems.

"This Government has had nearly four years, but it has done nothing but spout empty rhetoric and throw money aimlessly at social and economic problems."