Māori Party calls out ACT leader David Seymour's 'race baiting'

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says she isn't surprised the ACT Party hasn't engaged with Tiriti experts when writing its proposed Treaty Principles Act.

ACT is calling for a referendum on co-governance arrangements with Māori at the next election and has drafted a new interpretation of Te Tiriti principles which they want turned into law.

When asked by The Hui host Mihingarangi Forbes which Māori Treaty experts he had engaged with, Seymour said none

Despite Māori and the Crown signing the founding document of Aotearoa, a new version of the document's interpretation has been drafted without any input from Māori.

"It highlights how disingenuous Mr Seymour is and how his real intent is to race bait and incite anti-Māori support," Ngarewa-Packer told The Hui.

Joining Ngarewa-Packer is Labour Minister Kelvin Davis, who says Seymour "should be smart enough to know that you can't just sweep Te Tiriti under the carpet".

"As a country we've come a long way since the days of Don Brash and his racially divisive politics, so it's a shame that ACT have decided to dredge up the old playbook," he says.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed by more than 500 Māori chiefs in 1840 at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. In 1840, it is estimated that Māori made up 97 percent of the country's population. 

Crown breaches began almost immediately with disputes over land and resources.

Māori have consistently petitioned the Crown over land confiscation and Tiriti breaches. In 1975 the Waitangi Tribunal was established which committed to hearing Māori claims against the Crown. 

Seymour told The Hui the current interpretation "results in abandonment of liberal democracy and creates a New Zealand that does not have a place for all".

Davis said the country had made huge gains during the past 20 years. 

"Both our government and the National Government have signed treaty settlements that include co-governance arrangements," he said.

Seymour argued the Treaty Principles Act says everybody in New Zealand has the same political rights and duties. 

But Davis says the fact that Seymour "hasn't engaged with any experts on the founding document of our country, or bothered to attend any of the Te Paparahi o Te Raki Waitangi Tribunal hearings up North over the past decade, says it all really".

He ended with: "How can you propose such radical and divisive change without understanding it?"