Rawiri Waititi lashes out at 'Māori bashing' in Parliament as Jacinda Ardern challenges Judith Collins to say 'partnership'

Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi has lashed out in Parliament over "Māori bashing" as the Prime Minister questioned why Judith Collins won't say "partnership". 

Jacinda Ardern once again faced questions from the Opposition leader in Parliament on Wednesday about the Māori Health Authority, part of the Government's huge health sector shake-up

Collins has described it as "separatist" and claims it's part of a plan to implement He Puapua, a report commissioned by the Government in 2019 that sets out a roadmap to co-governance between the Crown and Māori by 2040.

When Collins asked Arden to explain the veto power the Maori Health Authority will hold, Ardern said: "My question to the member is why she won't say partnership."

"We do need to ensure that the Māori Health Authority has a view and a say in the delivery of those services for Māori because we haven't done that to date and we haven't reached Māori as a result to date," Ardern said. 

Collins also tried to reignite one of the most contentious standoffs in our recent history, the foreshore and seabed debate, asking Ardern to rule out full or partial governance of it to Māori.

Waititi interjected during the face-off, saying: "I'm wondering why two Pākehā women are talking about Māori issues instead of talking to Māori themselves. There's a room full of us."

Waititi also lashed out when a question he wanted the Prime Minister to answer about whether racism exists within her Government was transferred to Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson.

"I want to know Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's opinion," Waititi said afterwards. "This is another form of censorship, much like the watering down of the motion to declare Uyghur Genocide. This place is riddled with rules that actively silence our voice.

"Until the Government can admit and accept that racism exists within the very walls of Parliament and within their ranks of Government, my people will continue to suffer."

Waititi said in Parliament that over the last two days all he had heard in the House was "Māori, Māori, Māori bashing". 

When Mallard said Waititi was out of order, Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer put a tough question to the Speaker. 

"Why is the Speaker allowing the racism that is coming into this House and the treatment to tangata whenua that we've been experiencing and listening to solidly for the last two days?

"Is the Treaty respected in the basis of this Government and this House or not?"

Mallard said her question was the subject of a PHD dissertation, not an off-the-cuff Speaker's ruling.

"I think members pointing fingers at each other doesn't really help in this particular circumstance. I think the questions, the answers and the debate is a responsibility for the members who take part and the question of racism is something that I look out for very carefully," Mallard said. 

"I think it's fair to say though that people have different standards and balancing racism against the ability of members to express their views and the rights to free speech in this House is something which requires a balance and certainly it's something which I would take a lot of care intervening on. 

"If the member is unhappy with the actions of particular members then the appropriate thing to do is to seek appointments with them and talk it through with them."

ACT leader David Seymour gave Waititi some advice on how to ask a question of the Prime Minister for future reference to make sure she answers it. 

"He was very frustrated that his question got transferred to Willie Jackson and I could appreciate that. I was just explaining how we usually make sure that the Prime Minister can't transfer the questions away."

Waititi said he was "sick and tired" of the term 'unconscious bias' being "bandied about to soothe Pākehā fragility". 

He said Māori "deserve to know if there is racism in the Government and Government departments and we deserve to see an adequate plan about what they will be doing to stop racism against tangata whenua, how that plan will be measured and by whom".