Māori Green MP Elizabeth Kerekere says her party did not get elected to Parliament so National could tell it what to do.
She was responding to National MP Simeon Brown expressing shock that she and her party-co-leader Marama Davidson, together with Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt, had gone to visit the Mongrel Mob Kingdom at the weekend.
Kerekere says the event was very successful and a great hui that started with a powhiri and ended with great kai.
She says the Green Party is clear that its priorities with Maōri “are that we are here to listen to our whanau, hapu and iwi so that they have a say in the issues that affect them. So we choose who we visit.”
She says these whanau are struggling to find a home, struggling to heat the one they have and getting access to health and education as are any Maori across the country.
She notes that some agencies find it convenient to scapegoat them as gang members.
“The stigmatising that happens with that gives them an excuse not to provide service or protect them and it is the right of everyone in this country to be cared for by government departments.”
She says the party’s MPs may or may not meet other gang members.
But, asked if Brown was just playing to anti-Maori parts of his party, the first-term MP was dismissive.
“For the same reason I don’t appreciate anyone saying what the Greens should do, I’m not going to tell Simeon Brown what to do. I hear what he says and I get on with the work. It’s not going to stop us doing what we do.”
“Let us not forget we've got an entire health overhaul happening partly because of the massive failure of government to look after Maori, so that sees us in poorer health and dying.
Praise for Wāhine Toa
“Let’s talk about the criminals here - let’s look at the recent Waitangi Tribunal report into Oranga Tamariki on uplifting of children. In a different world they would be prosecuted for their behaviour. They are protected at the moment but we need to do things in a different way.
If that means going to talk to people other people won’t listen to, that’s what Greens do, she says.
Kerekere says her favourite part of the Mongrel Mob event was meeting the Wāhine Toa (the women’s chapter of Mongrel Mob Kingdom), which the women in Waikato formed and is starting to spread out among the country.
”I’m very excited by this. This is where we see women leaders are stepping up inside that particular gang and across the country particularly in caring for our tamariki.”