Opposing MPs question Te Mātāwai process

By Harata Brown

Some opposition MPs are criticising the appointment process to Te Mātāwai, the organisation responsible for revitalising the Māori language. NZ First MP Pita Paraone is calling for greater transparency in the appointments and Labour MP Peeni Henare says the process isn't clear.

Only one member has been appointed to the Te Mātāwai board and the entity is already getting flak from opposition MPs.

Paraone says, “At the end of the day, if we know how the representatives are appointed, then I will be satisfied.”

According to Henare, “I question NUMA's process to appoint Willie (Jackson) as the urban representative. I wasn't party to any meetings or the appointment process in Auckland. Not at all.”

Urban Māori leader John Tamihere confirmed that the National Māori Urban Authority (NUMA) Sub-Committee, which he chaired, appointed Willie Jackson as the Urban Māori member to Te Mātāwai.

However, Mr Tamihere wouldn't confirm who was part of the Sub-Committee, who made the appointment.  

“That's why I think the process is different for some. Some inform the public, but in relation to NUMA, we have no idea what process they followed,” says Paraone.

13 members are set to be appointed to Te Mātāwai by the end of July. Along with urban member Mr Jackson, representatives will be made up of iwi, Crown, community, media, and education Māori language stakeholders. 

Minister of Māori Development Te Ururoa Flavell told Te Kāea, “I am not a fan of judging who will be appointed by the various groups before they are appointed to Te Mātāwai. The process is that iwi and groups will appoint their own representatives.”

Mr Jackson declined to comment on the selection process but says he stands by his comments that his appointment is not about his ability to speak te reo Māori, but rather his ability to advocate for the best interests of Māori language revitalisation.