21 Oct 2017

Pressure on Māori MPs to deliver in new govt

4:25 pm on 21 October 2017

The pressure is on for all Māori MPs in the new government to deliver changes that were promised during their election campaign.

Labour's Māori MPs featured first in the list of the 2017 caucus team in the party's congress booklet.

Labour's Māori MPs featured first in the list of the 2017 caucus team in the party's congress booklet. Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

Labour's deputy leader Kelvin Davis described Māori representation in the next government as "massive", saying that he knows now there have been be some wins for Māori.

The parties that make up the new Labour-led government have 18 Māori MPs.

One New Zealand First policy looks to be already off the table - Winston Peters said his party didn't get enough support to hold a referendum on the Māori seats, which means they're staying for at least the next three years.

A senior Māori National Party member and Ngāpuhi kaumatua said he was not sad Mr Peters formed a government with the Labour Party.

Rihari Dargaville said he was proud Mr Peters decided to go with the will of the people for a change of government.

He also said National was to blame for the current socio-economic state of Māori.

"Though I must say they've managed the economy very well but the deprivation of our people is their fault."

Former Labour Party MP John Tamihere wants the new government to close the growing inequality gap.

Mr Tamihere is the chief executive of Te Whānau O Waipareira Trust in West Auckland that supports urban Māori and provides various health, youth and social services.

He said Māori in urban centres had struggled in the past nine years under the National government with issues such as homelessness, high unemployment and high incarceration rates.

Mr Tamihere said Mr Peters had made his choice based on the people wanting change but said that was not going to happen overnight.

Māori communications consultant Scott Campbell said having such a strong Māori caucus within the Labour government would be positive for Te Ao Māori.

Mr Campbell said the National Government pushed through many treaty settlements in the last three years and believed all unresolved settlements would be revisited by the new incoming government and iwi should expect huge changes.

"Some of those treaty settlements will have to be looked over by the Labour Government... how Labour deals with treaty settlements going forward will be very interesting to see.

"There a huge opportunity with the Ngāpuhi settlement now and hopefully that settlement goes back to the table and I suspect there'll be huge changes with how that settlement is set up at the moment," said Mr Campbell.

The treaty settlement for the biggest iwi in the country, Ngāpuhi, has been stalled for years and National's pull back from the negotiations left the two opposing groups, Tūhoronuku and Te Kotahitanga, to decide who would represent the iwi.

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