Teanau Tuiono: Pākehā protest organisers were hiding and pushing Māori to the front

By James Perry

Green Party MP Teanau Tuiono has been left saddened by the 23-day protest that occupied Parliament grounds until Wednesday when police forced protestors out.

He says it was disappointing to see Māori people and Māori symbols caught up in the protest that began as a pushback to vaccine mandate rules.

"I believe tino rangatiratanga is not about individuals but a collective. I go back to the Treaty of Waitangi. Article two talks about the tino rangatiratanga of our people. So we must focus on Māori as a whole, these people didn't. There was no tikanga, no kawa and no mana to their actions."

He has slammed the organisers and leaders of the protest and subsequent occupation and says it was largely driven by right-wing ideologies that never had the best interests of Māori.

"This is alt-right, right-wing, these are the beliefs of white supremacists. I was sad because we saw Māori in front of Pākehā. Where were the Pākehā in the live streams? Where were the New Conservatives? The people who're about fascism. They hid and pushed Māori ahead."

Threats to burn marae

He echoed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's comments immediately after protestors were removed from parliament that many people were caught up in disinformation, largely through social media.

"People have fallen down the rabbit hole. Maybe our people have spent too much time on Facebook and now believe lies. We need to create a policy so our families can learn the truth.

"One of my family members said they don't believe in mainstream media. I said never mind mainstream media, what about Māori TV, Te Karere, Tangata Pasifika, the voices of our people?"

Tuiono also acknowledged the mana whenua around the Parliament precinct who are left to pick up the pieces.

"My heart is with mana whenua and Te Āti Awa, Taranaki Whānau and Ngāti Toa. I heard some threaten to burn their marae. They've been telling these people to go home for a long time. The people of Marukaikuru (Shelly Bay) also had the same stance. So my heart is with those who are protecting its mauri and wairua."