Tauranga-based iwi Ngai Te Rangi has made an urgent claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, accusing the Government of attacking Māori culture and language.
The Ngai Te Rangi Settlement Trust says the National-ACT-NZ First coalition is breaching Article 2 of the Treaty by failing to protect te reo Māori.
Trust chairman Charlie Tawhiao said the breaches included the Government taking advice on how to stop paying extra to any more public servants who are fluent in te reo, and instructing departments to use their English rather than Māori names.
He said introducing a Treaty Principles Bill was also be a breach as it would remove affirmative action for those who had been disadvantaged by discrimination.
Tahiao said the Government was trying to limit the use of te reo and reduce its mana.
The group’s application for an urgent hearing said there was “no alternative remedy” thanks to the “number and speed of actions already taken by the Government” to enact its agenda since forming at the start of December.
In addition to breaching the Treaty, the Ngai Te Rangi Settlement Trust has accused the Government of “acting contrary to key sections of Te Ture mō Te Reo Māori 2016 (Māori Language Act)” and “breaching Article 1 of the Bill of Rights… by purporting to suspend the operation of the principles of Te Tiriti”.
Examples cited included Transport Minister Simeon Brown’s direction to Waka Kotahi / NZ Transport Agency to use its English name first, and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ similar instruction to Te Whatu Ora / Health New Zealand.
“Active protection of te reo Māori by the Government under Article 2 of Te Tiriti in its role as the Crown Treaty partner and the provisions of the Māori Language Act and tikanga as the first law of New Zealand, require the coalition Government not to take the actions they have taken, and not to take any more actions of this sort,” the iwi’s statement of claim said.
The iwi also took issue with the lack of commitment to consultation with Māori before introducing a Treaty Principles Bill to Parliament.
“We didn’t want to, but attacks on our language, culture, mana and tino rangatiratanga will be passionately resisted,” chief executive Paora Stanley said in a statement on Monday evening, accusing the Government of acting like a “drunken sailor with no concern or idea on the process required to change policy and law”.
“To be clear, getting government organisations to change names requires more than a press release. By filing an urgent tribunal case it will ensure the law is followed, and a gentle reminder, it is a law for everyone, including the purveyors of hegemony.”