Labour MP Kelvin Davis has given his valedictory speech, using it as an opportunity to take a swipe at the Government’s proposed Treaty Principles Bill.

During his speech, Davis said “when we move forward, the status quo always tries to push us back and protect itself”.

“I’ve never been happy with the status quo, I will never cede to anyone this is as good as it gets for Māori.”

“So each time you come for us, each time you try to put us back in our box, we will not back down, we never have and today is no different.”

The proposed bill would see the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi redefined. The highly contentious bill was part of ACT’s coalition deal with National but Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has said the party has “no intention” to support it beyond the first reading and select committee.

Davis said since the 19th century governments have “put in place measures to control the influence of Māori”.

“The original four Māori seats were established to keep us in our place. Since Māori in the House have started to grow in numbers and reach, calls to abolish the seven Māori seats threaten to take us backwards.

“When we progress the Treaty partnership to a point it starts to mean something, calls for a referendum on the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi grab the headlines and scare the horses.”

He said there will be a time to debate the principles of the Treaty, which will be when “Te Tiriti is honoured in its entirety”.

“Articles two and three are yet to be fulfilled.

“Te Tiriti may not be palatable for some, but what was signed was agreed.

“There is no way I can be convinced that one group who signs any treaty can unilaterally make decisions that impact on it without first having a proper engagement, conversation, debate, call it what you want, with the other group that signed.”

Davis served as the Minster for Children, Minister of Corrections, Minister of Children and Minister for Māori-Crown relations during his time in Parliament.

He was first elected in 2008, and despite not being in Parliament for three years in 2011 after failing to be elected, Davis climbed to number two on the Labour Party list, and served as the party’s first Māori deputy leader from 2017 to 2023.

In December last year, Davis announced he would retire from politics after being elected as a list MP.

He earlier said he would call time on his career if he was not successful on being elected as a Te Tai Tokerau MP. In the 2023 general election, he lost the seat to Te Pāti Māori candidate Mariameno Kapa-Kingi by 517 votes.