Labour leader Chris Hipkins has declared it will back Māori in its fight against the Government’s policies.

It was Hipkins’ first chance to speak in a te ao Māori context since the change of Government, with Rātana widely considered to be the start of the political calendar year.

Hipkins said progress had been made in rectifying the relationship between Māori and the Crown over time.

“Now is not the time to turn our back on that progress.”

He warned the new Government would talk up their aims but would be less inclined to discuss what they wanted to do with Māori “and even less inclined to talk about what they want to do to you”.

Hipkins said as it was a coalition who had signed on to support one another’s policies National still had to explain them and take responsibility for them, rather than “simply apportion” them to the two smaller parties.

He said the Government’s policies were “emboldening” others and encouraging and fostering racism in New Zealand.

“Labour remains committed to lighting the path forward.”

However, he acknowledged the party did not “get everything right” while in Government, particularly failing to “make sure we were bringing non-Māori New Zealanders along on that journey”.

He said the party would increase its efforts to that end, and fight the Government’s policies.

“To some extent that’s our fight, but it’s more your fight.

“We are here to walk alongside you.”

National and New Zealand First will be welcomed onto Rātana Pā around 1.30pm today. Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters will also make their case to those gathered.

Coalition leader, ACT’s David Seymour, confirmed yesterday he would not attend, saying it was mostly a religious event with not a lot of relevance in the contemporary era.

Yesterday, Te Pāti Māori were welcomed onto the Pā alongside the Kīngitanga, a break from tradition in joining other opposition parties today.

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