He Puapua: National still troubled by 'separatist' document

By Stefan Dimitrof

National MP and former deputy leader Dr Shane Reti says there are still some troubling aspects in the controversial report He Puapua that National needs to think over in coming months.

Reti, the former deputy under the previous leader Judith Collins, says under the new leadership there is a new way of thinking.

"There are parts of Heipuapua that remain as troubling as they were before although sometimes when you go into troubling areas you need to explore them further.

Collins last year damned the paper, a discussion document, as "separatist".

The document was written for Te Puni Kōkiri three years ago and looked at how to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people, which had been signed by the last National government under Sir John Key. Owing to Covid-19 the document was put aside and was not taken to the cabinet during the Labour–NZ First government.

The document was leaked to National last year, which criticised it for suggesting among many other possibilities, co-governance and a Māori upper house in Parliament.

Collins’ claims about it so so enraged the Māori Party's Rawiri Waititi, he performed an impromptu haka in Parliament, resulting in him being kicked out for the day with his co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

Exploring the issues

But Reti told Te Ao Tapatahi today that the National caucus is very exploratory at the moment on “issues like co-governance, what is a good position to be in that meets most of the needs, wants and aspirations of most people most of the time.”

Meanwhile, National will stand candidates in the Māori electorate seats, yet in the past it had said its plan was to eventually abolish Māori seats, so what precipitated the change?

Reti told Te Ao Tapatahi National had made a commitment to positively change the relationship between the Māori and the Crown.

At a special general meeting, National inserted a Treaty of Waitangi clause into its constitution last year “reflecting the fact that we understand that we need to do a better job with our relationship in the Crown/Māori space”.

There was also a challenge put forward by Ngāti Hine chair Te Waihoroi Shortland to National to provide a reason for Māori to vote for National.

Challenged on whether National had any new policies that target the inequities of Māori Dr Reti responded that now wasn’t the right time to release such policies due to the current electorate cycle. “You could come up with the policy of the century and it could be taken up in the next budget, we have been working for quite a while on policies that will make a difference and reduce inequities.”

The state-of-the-nation address by Christopher Luxon failed to address anything to do with Covid-19. Reti says it is understood that Covid-19 is a big part of what is going on right now but National is more focused on the families that are struggling to pay rent and that are struggling to put food on the table which needs solutions sooner rather than later.

“The focus on the state of the nation was on the cost of living and the economy. When you have the economy working well. then you have the ability to do all the social goods that the government would like to take.”