15 Aug 2009

Maori flag consultation a farce - Labour MP

10:08 pm on 15 August 2009

Labour MP Shane Jones has described the national Maori flag consultation process as a farce, and says the Maori Party is using the debate to ignore the real issues facing Maori.

The Maori Party says the tino rangatiratanga, or Maori sovereignty, flag has emerged as the clear favourite at 21 hui attended by thousands of people around the country.

The party says the hui environment is the most comfortable place for Maori to discuss their opinions on an official Maori flag.

However, Mr Jones says it's a lot easier to run a series of hui than to create policies and programmes that encourage social empowerment and wellbeing, economic growth and employment of Maori.

Ministry of Maori Development policy director Tipene Chrisp says attendance levels at the hui have exceeded expectations. He says people support having a Maori flag and feel it will be important symbolically in the relationship between the Crown and Maori.

The last of the hui was held in Dunedin on Thursday.