Health Minister Dr Shane Reti's iwi makes public appeal for him to stop the scrapping of smokefree laws

The Health Minister's iwi is making a public appeal to him to halt the scrapping of some smokefree laws. 

They say the coalition's plans will harm their people and say the Health Minister folding to minor partners on something so crucial tramples on his mana. But Dr Shane Reti disagrees. 

During the peak of the pandemic, Dr Reti got on the tools with his iwi Ngātiwai to get Kiwis jabbed.  

He's now the Health Minister and Ngātiwai again wants the doctor's help.  

"What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people. We're sick and tired in our communities of having to bury our whanaunga, bury our whanau earlier due to smoking-related illness," said chair Aperahama Edwards.  

The Ngātiwai Trust Board are making a public appeal to Dr Reti and to Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, who are both of Ngātiwai descent.  

"We have an obligation to give voices to anything we see as wrong and this is something fundamentally wrong. There's nothing good in this," said Edwards.  

Dr Reti responded to that by saying the Government was "committed to reducing the smoking rates and remain committed to doing that".    

When Newshub tried to ask Peters about the iwi's comments, he instead wanted to know how much our reporter knew about the group and if Newshub knew how much Māori smokers have been taxed.  

The smokefree generation, reduced cigarette retailers and lowered nicotine levels combined were estimated to save 8000 lives.  

But they're going up in smoke after ACT and NZ First got scrapping them into their coalition deals.  

"Our concern is that those involved will not only be synonymous with the decision to repeal but the outcomes of that decision," said Edwards.   

But Dr Reti again said the ambition was to drive down smoking rates.   

Dr Reti isn't the only doctor in National's midst. Its Bank Peninsula MP Vanessa Weenink is a GP.  

Asked on Tuesday if she supported denicotinisation, the MP said that was the responsibility of the Associate Minister of Health.  

She used to support it, posting on Facebook two years ago when the measures were proposed: "The nicotine level idea is a good one."   

She said she now had a role as a backbench MP and it wasn't appropriate for her to comment.