National signals plans for Māori, leader has more to learn about Māori Development

updated By Jessica Tyson

Māori Development spokesperson for the National Party Joanne Hayes has signalled a plan she has in place to support Māori but admits the new leader Todd Muller has a lot more to learn about her portfolio.

Changes to the leadership within the Party meant that Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett were demoted to the backbenches by Muller.

Hayes will keep her post as the spokesperson for Māori Development and Whānau Ora. She also picks up Treaty Negotiations and is number 37 on the Party-list.

She says she and two others have been working on a Māori Development plan since last year and it includes sections around Treaty Negotiations, Whānau Ora, Whare Kāinga, “and how we would look at it to actually empower Māori to be able to pick up and take control of their own destiny.”

But Hayes admits Muller doesn’t really know her portfolio Māori Development “that well”.

“That’s why I’m meeting with him and Nikki this morning to talk about my portfolios and where they siting the party,” she said on Tapatahi today.

Hayes says Muller is a likeable person.

“He has got a brain on him that thinks really deep and hard to what he’s doing," she says.

“I remember when he first came into Parliament, I met him. He was given the arduous role of being the Crown-Māori Relations person to which he was feeling quite uncomfortable about and he made that very well known to Simon Bridges when Simon took over, so he does think about positioning.”

Hayes says the National Party wants to concentrate on re-building the economy following the impact of COVID-19 and Muller wants to focus on small businesses.

“The Māori economy is actually made up of small business. That’s the majority of our economy is of small business so I’ll be working with him around how we’re going to do that, how we’re going to empower people, empower our small businesses. I mean, Māori tourism has taken a very big hit.”

Hayes says Muller understands the importance of the Māori economy but she is going to work with Muller and the deputy Nikki Kaye to help get “his head around” the Māori Development portfolio.