He Puapua wasn't released over concern it could be misconstrued as Government policy - Jacinda Ardern

The Prime Minister has revealed the He Puapua report about Māori co-governance wasn't released publicly over concern it could be misconstrued as Government policy. 

It comes as the National Party and ACT accuse the Government of sneaking through Māori policies by stealth, with cries of separatism. 

A decade on and the signing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People is causing a meltdown in Parliament.

MPs squabbled on Tuesday over a report which deals with how New Zealand could fulfil the commitments it made by signing up at the UN.

"Quite clearly there is a plan, it is being implemented, and we are going to call it out," National leader Judith Collins told reporters. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Parliament expressed disappointment over how the debate had played out. 

"The groundwork for us being able to have a decent conversation about these issues has not been well established by the debate I've seen from members of this House."

The Opposition is accusing Labour of sneaking through separate systems for Māori, using the recent announcement of a Māori Health authority as an example.

Ardern's response: "If something isn't working, fix it! Our health system is not working for Māori. They are dying younger than other New Zealanders and so we are fixing it."

The report, He Puapua, was prepared by Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry for Māori Development. It has not yet been to Cabinet and wasn't proactively released. The Government only made it public after it was forced to. 

ACT leader David Seymour asked Ardern in Parliament why the Ombudsman had to get involved over the document's release. 

"Because of a concern that it would be misconstrued as Government policy," Ardern said. "I rest my case."

Seymour told reporters the Government has been doing "everything it can to obfuscate and obscure this report". 

The Prime Minister says National and ACT are taking the race debate back a decade.

"I would have liked to have thought as a nation we'd kind of moved on from that kind of political strategy."

National MP Chris Luxon tried to reignite one of the most contentious standoffs in our recent history, the foreshore and seabed debate, asking the minister in Parliament to rule out Māori ownership. 

"Can he rule out this Government implementing the He Puapua recommendation to provide increased Māori ownership of the foreshore and seabed?"

Both sides could have handled this better. Labour could have front-footed it all because the Government needs to address Māori inequity, and National could tone down some of its inflammatory rhetoric.