More details have emerged about yesterday’s private meeting between the Prime Minister and the Māori King.
Kiingi Tuuheitia reiterated the importance of te reo Māori and insisted Māori maintain their mana motuhake or self-determination.
The meeting was held just days out from a national hui at Tūrangawaewae Marae in Ngāruawāhia where thousands are expected to meet to discuss some of the Government’s policies, including its proposed Treaty Principles Bill.
Private secretary to Kiingi Tuuheitia, Ngira Simmonds, said several issues were raised with Christopher Luxon during the meeting, including plans to roll back the use of te reo Māori in the public sector.
“We talked about te reo Māori and some of the policies and the direction that we’re seeing in the Government. It is of concern to the Kiingitanga,” he said.
“For us, we will speak te reo Māori and we will kōrero our reo, no matter what the decision or direction of any Government.
“And the Prime Minister was very supportive of that.”
Māori Development Minister Tama Potaka was also present for the meeting which took about an hour and a half.
“What we’re looking for now is how Māori can lead the entire nation. We believe mana motuhake (self-determination) will enable success for everybody and won’t be a style of leadership that will be detrimental to other people who live in New Zealand.
“We consistently gave that message to the Prime Minister yesterday.”
Simmonds said the Prime Minister did not offer any assurances but was open to continuing discussions.
“Continued conversation and dialogue, even through the things we don’t always agree on, are the ups and downs of political life.
“I think all prime ministers need to understand the significance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the role of te iwi Māori in the life of New Zealand.
“It can’t be something that can ever be dismissed.”
1News understands representatives from Te Pāti Māori, the Greens and Labour will attend the hui on Saturday, but it’s unclear whether anyone from the Government will.
Simmonds said: “We are prepared to welcome all. No one will be turned away. If they do come, we would ask they come and primarily listen. We’re not specifically seeking the attendance of members of Parliament. Our particular focus for this hui is te iwi Māori.”