New Zealand is racist. That's according to Gena Moses-Te Kani the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge Tangata Whenua co-chair.
"Fundamentally we are a racist nation, so it's very hard to do anything without acknowledging that first."
Leaders of the national research entity operating under a Treaty-based co-governance structure say it’s an important step towards establishing genuine equality for Māori.
Building Better Homes Towns and Cities (BBHTC),a National Science Challenge dedicated to exploring sustainable housing solutions through community-driven research is led by Tangata Tiriti and Tangata Whenua co-chairs and co-directors who share equal authority and accountability.
Launched in May 2016, the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge is focusing on improving the quality and supply of housing and creating smart and attractive urban environments.
BBHTC Tangata Tiriti co-chair Hope Simonsen says political attacks on co-governance encourage ignorance and fuel racism.
"It's just absolutely ridiculous to think that we can work within the confines of a western structure and get good outcomes for Māori."
Moses-Te Kani also says the journey towards co-governance is challenging.
"When I started in the challenge I was the only woman in governance, there were two Māori out of six. We didn't have a kāhui and we purposely decided the kāhui wasn't the way to go."
With public consultation on co-governance expected to begin later this year following Iwi and Māori consultation on He Puapua, BBHTC is encouraging organisations championing this approach to step forward and highlight the facts to help drown out divisive discourse.