Rātana gets political: Christopher Luxon calls co-governance conversation 'divisive, immature'

With a large number of politicians at Rātana, it was bound to get political.

National leader Christopher Luxon was directly challenged by the paepae to stop being afraid of co-governance. But he fired back saying the wider conversation was divisive and immature.

It was an all-mighty challenge on the pā.

"We know in an election year... everyone goes crazy. But it can't be a lolly scramble Mr Luxon," said speaker Rahui Papa.

But one issue, in particular, has become a flashpoint.

"We welcome you to not be afraid of co-governance, we welcome you to not be afraid of loosening the grip of power," said Papa.

But Luxon said National "does oppose co-governance in the delivery of public services".

Rātana is a celebration of the movement and the game of politics is usually kept to a minimum. 

But on Tuesday on the pā Luxon got stuck in, saying the co-governance conversation has  become "divisive and immature".

"The Prime Minister hasn't come forward, spent her huge political capital, making the case to the New Zealand people and taking them with her on it."

Luxon is refusing to accept any responsibility for the conversation he called immature, despite National's 2021 'demand the debate' campaign over co-governance.

"It's a new National Party under new leadership."

Speakers at Rātana raised concerns about rising racism as politicians try to win all the votes they can.

"There is a concerted effort for gaslightling, gaslighting racism, gaslighting misogyny, and it's got to stop," said Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa Packer.

"If people want to introduce racism where you get different rights based on your ancestry, that's something we should all be opposed to," said ACT's leader David Seymour.

"I think that race relations should not be ever used as an issue to divide New Zealanders with," said incoming Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

He believes it has been used by some politicians in the past to do that. 

Luxon's highly political speech was not designed for the audience at Rātana, rather, it was written and delivered for New Zealanders at home.

When it's an election year, every opportunity is a political one.