Māori Party claims ERC exclusion is deliberate

updated By Tema Hemi

National Party leader Simon Bridges, who heads the Government's Epidemic Response Committee, is being blamed for the lack of Māori presenting to committee meetings. Māori Party co-leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer claims the exclusion is deliberate.

The Māori Party say a Māori voice is lacking at this time of despair.   

Co-Leader of the Māori Party Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says, "This is not the time for Simon to be politicking at the expense of our future."

Many across the Māori spectrum are criticising the Epidemic Response Committee for its lack of consultation with Māori.  

Ngarewa-Packer also says, "Now everyone I've spoken to across the iwi spectrum, across the health, education, Te Kohanga Reo, are all available. So he needs to be challenged and Simon needs to be able to show that there's a better approach to equity and the solutions."

Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust says they're disappointed the committee hadn't approached them to speak at the committee. 

The Co-Chairman of the Te Kōhanga Reo Trust Daniel Procter says, "Why is it that Māori have to invite themselves to these types of committees. Which begs the question, where does the Treaty of Waitangi come into effect in the running of this committee? The stance of Te Kōhanga Reo is that we are very anxious about what authenticity of their decisions.    

Procter says decisions made by the committee directly affects the future wellbeing of Māori children.  

Procter also says, "There are many learnings that should be valued throughout the time of the lockdown. The main thing is is that we don't leave those learnings there but instead nurture them into the future." 

In the six weeks since the committee was established, two Māori organisations - Te Whakaruruhau o Ngā Reo Irirangi and FOMA have been invited to speak.