Kīngitanga representative Rahui Papa has delivered a searing speech to Government leaders at Rātana, warning if there is “any measure of meddling” with Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Māori “will not sit idly by”.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon walked onto the Pā after 1.30pm today, joined by National caucus colleagues as well as Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and his NZ First caucus.

Fellow coalition leader, ACT’s David Seymour, has never attended Rātana and has not today.

Papa spoke in English for much of his speech, and began by saying it was “fantastic” the Government representatives had attended.

He said they would hear and feel the wairua (spirit or soul) of te ao Māori (the Māori world), one that was of “promise and hope”.

He said te ao Māori and the Government could agree that if it worked together “only good things will happen right across the length and breadth of our country”.

“[But] if there is any measure of meddling with Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Māori will not sit idly by.

“We will pull every lever that we possibly can.

“We implore you no we insist that you heed the call of Māori.

He said the disestablishment of Te Aka Whai Ora the Māori Health Authority had caused “some consternation among Māori” as had changing or reverting Government organisation names to English – one of the first of which was changing Waka Kotahi back to, in the first instance, the New Zealand Transport Agency.

“We will continue to call Waka Kotahi, Waka Kotahi [and] maintain the mana of our reo in the way we see fit.”

He said he would leave the Government with one message: “Te Tiriti o Waitangi is sacrosanct in te ao Māori”.

Papa said if clarity was needed on the what Te Tiriti o Waitangi was about, te ao Māori would offer that.

“We sure as heck don’t want you to be confused about the text of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”

”The Government will honour the Treaty’ – Luxon

Māori Crown Relations Minister Tama Potaka spoke, as did NZ First leader Winston Peters and deputy Shane Jones.

Luxon committed to attending Rātana in the future and said National valued its relationship with Rātana despite it being historically aligned to the Labour Party.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon speaks at Rātana

He said the Government had “no plans to revise the Treaty of Waitangi” or treaty settlements.

“The Government will honour the Treaty.”

He said National supported the revitalisation of te reo Māori and kohanga reo which had produced a new generation of confident te reo Māori speakers, and he wished he was one.

However, he said, as the Government represented all New Zealanders it was mindful of those who did not understand te reo Māori, and New Zealand was on a “journey” to embrace it.

The Government’s values were that it cared deeply about people, he said.

“I want all of you and all of New Zealand to flourish.”

He said that was shown by doing something about making life better for people, rather than “just talking about it”.

Luxon said it was the Government’s goal for Māori to have the same opportunities as everyone else, so long as they worked hard.