Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has hit out at David Seymour this morning, accusing the ACT leader of purposely trying divide New Zealand.

She and New Zealand First deputy leader Shane Jones joined Breakfast this morning following Seymour’s State of the Nation address yesterday, where he doubled down in his defence of the highly contentious Treaty Principles Bill.

The proposed bill would see the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi redefined.

The ACT leader, who on Friday was appointed as Associate Justice Minister with responsibility for the Treaty Principles Bill by Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, said that New Zealand has been told to become a “Tiriti-centric” country.

“This divisive idea has been fuelled by unelected bureaucrats and judges promoting a ‘partnership’ interpretation of our founding document,” Seymour said in a speech yesterday.

“Ultimately, if we say the Treaty Principles Bill is divisive, what we’re really saying is we can’t do anything where people disagree in this country, and that’s one of the biggest problems – we’ve lost the ability to disagree agreeably.

“There are some in Māoridom who are upset, there are some in Māoridom who are very happy. We will deal with everyone as humans.”

When asked what she believed Seymour was thinking in making his comments, Ngarewa-Packer retorted, “I’m not the right person to ask what David Seymour’s thinking on a good day”.

“I think from David’s perspective he wants us to be more divided, which is why he’s moving to eradicate over 50 years of jurisprudence,” she said.

“But the reality is from te ao Māori and from where I’m sitting, we’re anything but divided – we’re extremely united.”

Ngarewa-Packer said Seymour’s stance is due to the “privileged position from where he sits in New Zealand”.

“He keeps talking about [if] Māori leaders are doing enough and judging and talking about what our world should be,” she said.

“The reality is that Māori have done exactly what we should be doing when the fundamental basics of our Treaty, or whakapapa, is challenged, which is unite.

“He wasn’t at Ngāruawāhia, te huia or te motu, he wasn’t at Rātana, so he can’t talk about something he’s not involved in from his privileged position.

“We’ve got to remind ourselves, if the boot was on the other foot for Māori and we were doing this to Pākehā, a violent revolution would occur.”

Jones defended Seymour’s stance and shook off descriptions of the new government as “white supremacist” and “the enemy of Māori”, saying there is “sadly going to be a lot of hyperbole around for the foreseeable future”.

“I think we’ve got to openly acknowledge [that] the last election did reflect that a lot of New Zealanders are uncertain as to what the direction of travel [is] for the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. What is the direction of travel for the Waitangi Tribunal, which is now initiating a constitutional inquiry, including self-government?” he said.

Jones said New Zealand voters “are entitled to reflect through their voting preferences a desire for a reset”.

“The final shape and form of any reset … at the end of the day will be addressed through a political process, and David [Seymour] is one participant in that political process.”

Though he is not privy to specific recommendations for the bill, Jones said New Zealand First is still committed to supporting it.

“Our party will abide by the coalition agreement. I haven’t seen the content of the bill … but a debate is going to happen.”

Share.