National leader Christopher Luxon says the idea of co-governance might be something Māori can understand but it's not something the average New Zealander can wrap their head around.
”It’s the responsibility of the government to point out this is what co-governance is or isn’t and take it to New Zealand and sell it to them”.
“it’s not clear what [this government] is talking about”.
In 2019, a government working group created a discussion document on options for Aotearoa to adapt to meet the obligations of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which New Zealand had signed up to.
The report, He Puapua proposes among other options, a Māori court system, health system and joint government bodies, across all government agencies.
Luxon, who was talking to Neil Waka on Te Ao Tapatahi, said National did not support a two-system governance model and would rather have a single system with “deep targeting with the engagement of community organisations, iwi, local government and local business being able to deliver services”.
Luxon thinks Maori outcomes were more positive under a National-led government. “With the focus of Treaty settlements, the Maori economy boomed and there were very good educational outcomes.”
“We want one system in this country but our system has to have enough innovation and components in it to target people on the basis of need”.
Luxon doesn’t support ACT's David Seymour's call for a referendum on the Treaty.
”What I see a need for is a more elevated, smart conversation about co-governance that we can have respectfully in this country that we can have intelligently and maturely and get really clear with the government about what it is and what it isn’t."
Te Ao Tapatahi also talked to former New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd who has been following Luxon's stance on Māori issues since he became National leader.
After Luxon’s comments on He Puapua Judd said Luxon "sounds very slick, educated and well drilled in the message but off the cuff. He's not saying anything new.”
This is the message that Māori have had to deal with since Pākeha got here, which is to disenfranchise Māori and tell them as pāhekā that ‘we know best'”.
Judd thinks that politics may have changed Luxon from when he met him in the final days of his mayoralty. Luxon as Air New Zealand chief executive told Judd he wanted more Māori in the leadership of the flier. Judd said that he wants that version of Luxon back.
Judd says that after letting go of his fear and ignorance to engage with Māori in a Māori context, “I soon realised that I as a Pākehā was the problem”.
Judd says Luxon’s comments "trigger us to stay in that same place which is to disempower and keep Māori from any real decision making”.
Judd says if Luxon "wants to have a ‘mature conversation" then "He Puapua should be leading us".
"in fact, it is the type of document that should have been signed straight after the treaty”.
“He Puapua is not about division it's about inclusion, it's about empowering Māori to do things for Māori by Māori.”