National leader Judith Collins questions Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's ruling out of separate Māori Parliament

National leader Judith Collins is questioning Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's ruling out of a separate Māori Parliament, brushing it off as "spin". 

Collins has been calling for a "national conversation" about recommendations made in He Puapua, a Government report commissioned in 2019 that sets out a roadmap to co-governance between the Crown and Māori by 2040. 

It proposes a Māori Health Authority and Māori wards in local councils, which the Government has implemented. The report also suggests separate court and justice systems, and a Māori Parliament or Upper House. 

The suggestion of a separate Māori Parliament was put to the Prime Minister in Parliament last month by ACT leader David Seymour. Ardern said the Government had "no intention of making such a constitutional change".

But Collins isn't taking Ardern at her word. 

"It is important that just because the Prime Minister said this, that we should question that - what she says - because she also said that there would be no new taxes, that they weren't going to have a capital gains tax, but they effectively did that," she told Magic Talk on Monday. 

"We had Grant Robertson, the Finance Minister, saying no changes to the bright-line test, and lo and behold, a few months later guess what? There are changes.  

"I simply look at the evidence, and the evidence is department after department, agency after agency, is pursuing this path, all of which is shown in the He Puapua document, and that is the evidence. 

"I would take the evidence over the spin any day."

National leader Judith Collins is concerned about recommendations made in the He Puapua report.
National leader Judith Collins is concerned about recommendations made in the He Puapua report. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

Collins told National Party supporters in a speech over the weekend she had been leaked a copy of draft recommendations from a recent hui where the Department of Conservation (DOC) discussed how to better reflect the Treaty of Waitangi's principles in it policies.

The draft document recommends transferring the DOC estate to Māori. 

"Provide for the delegation, transfer, and devolution of functions and powers within the conservation system to Tangata Whenua," the draft document reads. 

Collins said she believes most New Zealanders would accept the Treaty of Waitangi is an "extremely important" part of the constitution, but would "question the interpretation that's being applied" by the Government. 

"And it's being applied by stealth," she says. 

"My view is there needs to be a national conversation on this rather than just Government agencies, with the obvious approval of the Prime Minister, going ahead and basically devolving all the things that we would be looking at as being owned by the New Zealand public, like the DOC land, for instance. 

"We already have Treaty settlements. We already have these to address the breaching of the Treaty by the Crown back in the 1860s. These are already being done now and almost completed. There's only a few more to go. 

"This is entirely new interpretation and a radical interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi and it is one that every New Zealander deserves to have their say on."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promised not to introduce a separate Māori Parliament.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promised not to introduce a separate Māori Parliament. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson has prepared a Cabinet paper outlining a possible Government response to the He Puapua report recommendations. 

The Government has never released the full report publicly and, because it's never been to Cabinet, it hasn't agreed a position on it. Collins says she was leaked an un-redacted copy of the report by someone concerned about the recommendations. 

Ardern said in Parliament last week the report wasn't released to the public over concerns it could be misconstrued as Government policy.  

Paradoxically, the He Puapua report was commissioned as a response to former Prime Minister John Key - Collins' old boss - signing New Zealand up in 2010 to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.