'Enemy of Māori': Christopher Luxon's Government sent clear message at Rātana Pā

A "three-headed taniwha" and the "enemy of Māori" - that's how the Government has been described at Rātana Pā on Wednesday, as it was sent a strong message from Māori not to mess with the Treaty.

Tubas and trombones - the familiar uplifting tones of the Rātana brass band - were the most welcoming sound the Government would hear today.

In speech after speech, the Government was taken to task and some in the audience even booed Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.

"Te Tiriti o Waitangi is sacrosanct in our view," said Rahui Papa, Waikato-Tainui iwi leader.

"We don’t expect to be just spoken to. We want to be walking side by side," said Kameka Manuel.

"If there is any measure of meddling with Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Māori will not sit idly by," Papa added.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon pledged to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty).

"The Government has no plans, and never has had plans to amend or to revise the Treaty, or the Treaty settlements that we have all worked so hard together to achieve. The Government will honour the Treaty."

While his coalition partners scolded the speakers for bringing politics onto the pae.

"Haere mai ki Waitangi [come and visit Waitangi]," said New Zealand First (NZF) deputy leader Shane Jones.

Jones told the crowd Waitangi was the place for this conversation.

"I love debate. Come to Waitangi, I will see you there, tēnā koutou katoa."

And the usually-silent crowd made their voices heard.

"I may have achieved the distinction of being the first politician ever to be booed at Rātana," Jones told Newshub.

Government representatives were welcomed in onto Rātana Pā in a a second pōwhiri.
Government representatives were welcomed in onto Rātana Pā in a a second pōwhiri. Photo credit: Newshub.

NZ First leader Winston Peters didn't escape the flak.

"Well face up to it, that’s the way Māori are, not blaming everybody else," he said, to boos from the audience.

Newshub asked the PM if he was surprised at the Government being labelled the "enemy of Māori" and a "three-headed taniwha".

"No, what I'm focused on is making sure that I have good conversations with Māori leaders, which I have been doing over the last year or so," Luxon told Newshub.

"I sense that the mania that gripped iwi in the Seabed and Foreshore is starting to trickle through over the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi," said Jones.

The Government's agenda dominated the agenda at Rātana. Front and centre was the ACT Party's Treaty Principles Bill.

"I think the only one that needs Lesson 101 on Te Tiriti o Waitangi is David Seymour, but he's not here to listen to the cries of the people," said Nika Rua.

National and New Zealand First have agreed to support ACT's bill through a first reading in Parliament, to be debated by the public at the select committee stage.

But that's where it ends.

Newshub asked the PM if he can rule out supporting the bill past first reading.

"I've been really clear about it. As a coalition Government, we don't have a commitment beyond first reading," Luxon replied.

"As you know, as a National Party, we've had a long-standing position that we have no intention and no commitment to progressing a referendum, so it's pretty straight forward for us," he added.

Newshub also asked Winston Peters the same question.

"I said I've had enough of novice day," Peters responded.

"Nack off for goodness sake, I'm not wasting my time."

It's dead legislation walking, but its architect, David Seymour, will not back down.

"They’ve said they have no commitment to go further. They've also never ruled out going further so that’s good enough for me," he told Newshub.

Holding out hope as his bill creates fear.