Māori Party opposes anti-terrorism legislation bill

By Marena Mane

Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi, who opposes the anti-terrorism legislation bill, thinks it will exacerbate an already inadequate counter-terrorism system.

He believes that the best course of action is to take this legislation slowly.

“It’s about us, kia āta haere (taking it very slowly), and to make sure that we're creating protective measures for tangata whenua,” he says.

The ISIS-inspired terrorist attack on an Auckland supermarket on Friday has brought New Zealand's counter-terrorism legislation back into the spotlight.

The man who was killed by undercover police had been under surveillance since 2016 and had been in the legal system since 2017.

The government's new counter-terrorism legislation bill, which had its first reading in May, allows police to use warrantless search and surveillance to intervene when an individual or organisation is planning or preparing a terror attack.

Waititi says he does not want a repeat of the Tūhoe raids, which affected Tame Iti and his whanau as a result of warrantless searches and so-called "terrorism" activities.

No repeat  of Tūhoe raids

He says this is why the party opposed the bill because there wasn't enough due diligence to ensure the correct phrasing and protections were there for Aotearoa's marginalised communities, as well as tangata whenua who become targets in the event of a terrorist attack.

“Who determines whether somebody is up to any terrorism activity? These are the issues that the Māori Party has and we will continue to challenge back to ensure that the legislation is a true fit for Aotearoa.”

Waititi says that as the only tangata whenua Party in Parliament, it is the Māori Party's job to ensure there is a “Tiriti-centric conversation” and he says, “Who's doing the manaaki? Who is allowing all of these things to happen to ensure that we have the right legislation to protect people.”

Waititi says he expects to see more consultation with tangata whenua when establishing legislative processes to ensure a “Tiriti-led process.”

“This is to allow Māori to be able to implement our tangata whenua and Tiriti-centric obligations to be able to host and manaaki our people,'' he says.

Waititi likens the process of a pōhiri to welcoming those who are entering the country.

“We've got to make sure we have the right processes, and that we are able to prepare the marae to be able to go through these processes.” 

“That the wero is at the front gate, that the karanga happens, that the whaikōrero is able to decipher who is coming in peace and who is not, before we get to the hakari and before we get to the hongi.”