Te Pāti Māori frustrated by Govt's incremental approach

December 22, 2022

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is honest about it. Nothing this year tops the arrival of her twin mokopuna, but she and Rawiri Waititi reckon it's been a solid year for Te Pāti Māori.

The co-leaders said their biggest challenge and greatest achievement was being unapologetic Māori voices in Parliament.

“None of it is kaupapa that we own. We’re just a platform to be able to springboard all the other advocacies and narratives, historians, kaikōrero, activists," Ngarewa-Packer said.

They were thrilled with the political participation and engagement from Māori communities, such as getting 70,000 people to sign a petition calling for the country to be called Aotearoa.

“You cannot tell me people don’t want to participate," Ngarewa-Packer said.

Waititi added: “We’re just the ringaringa and the waewae for our people in here. And the arero."

They have been frustrated by the piecemeal nature of the Government’s approach to policy - in electoral reform or when it comes to deep sea mining.

“We should just put the pou in the ground and say: ‘No. Let’s clean this up.’ Not incrementally, but let’s do it all in one hit," Waititi said.

The pair's big concern for election year is the impact of the rising cost of living, especially on Māori.

"We have a political year where our people are becoming expendable. Whether you're two brothers in a South Auckland garage or whether you come from a community that must have kai delivered at schools," Ngarewa-Packer said.

She said there was an "imperative to redistribute wealth".

"The child poverty stats aren't improving for Māori and Pasifika, yet we're the growing population.

"The way our rangatahi, the way our whānau aren't well. When you're not well, you can't learn. If you can't learn you don't earn. Those are still critical grassroots matters that are even worse now."

1News sat down with each political party leader to reflect on the year that's been. Watch the rest of the interviews in this series: Jacinda Ardern, Christopher Luxon, David Seymour, Marama Davidson and James Shaw