Iwi Leaders assess major issues facing Māori

By Maiki Sherman

A number of big issues are discussed at these forums. Apart from the budget there were also two other major topics discussed by the ministers, including the Māori language strategy and freshwater rights. 

As elections fast approach time is running out for ministers to get their bills underway, which is why the Minister of Māori Affairs is hugely focused on the Māori language strategy.

The strategy has almost reached its end destination. It's currently being drafted into a bill. In essence, it returns power over the language back to iwi by establishing Te Mātāwai, a body that will have control over the Māori Language Commission, Te Māngai Pāoho and Te Pūtahi Pāoho through a board of 12 members.

Seven will be iwi appointed, three will be appointed by key stakeholders and two will be government appointed.    

Breaking down the budget was a key topic for Bill English. From the budget was $5 million over two years secured through the ILF Freshwater Group for its initiative, Te Mana o Te Wai.

It's expected the bill regarding freshwater will have its first reading next month. The major task for both parties now is to negotiate the true meaning of Māori rights.

Over the coming months a number of meetings will be held to discuss the meaning of those rights. Meanwhile only time will tell if these ministers will continue to sit at the table alongside the iwi leaders following the general elections.