Māori Party pres calls for independent commissioner for Māori issues

By Tema Hemi

Māori Party president Che Wilson is calling for an independent tikanga commissioner and office of Māori issues.  Wilson says this independent tool would be funded by the Crown to be a watchdog for Crown engagement and to help hapū and iwi to navigate issues that have been established as a result of Crown intervention. 

Wilson wants to see more cohesiveness from government when dealing with Māori. 

"It is said that Māori will correct Māoridom's mistakes but it's still the government that oversees that process.  Some iwi say not to get involved in other iwi matters but again, mostly it's the decisions of the Crown that urge most Māori to want to support others."

Wilson believes ongoing Māori issues require an independent commissioner of their own. 

"There is an independent commissioner for children, one for the environment and for other issues in our country.  Then it is only right to have one for Māori issues."

It is expected that this office would be able to critique the processes of government, similar to an ombudsman, as well as facilitating tikanga processes to help restore balance between hapū and iwi.

Wilson says, "Too many times, the Crown establishes solutions which create more problems.  The likes of Te Puni Kōkiri, they oversee all issues that pertain to Māori.  Te Arawhiti have their role in terms of the government's relationship with Treaty partners, but at times there is incohesiveness within that relationship and there is no judge to mediate between the two parties."