I had two unique experiences this week relating to my recent comments that there was widespread institutional racism throughout New Zealand, which summed up for me where we are as a people on race relations and how much further we still need to go.
The first was with a senior member of the Judiciary, who thanked me profusely for being one of the few Cabinet Ministers who had called out institutional racism in New Zealand.
He told me how much it meant for those working at the coal face of that systemic bigotry to hear that truth spoken, as they strived to improve our legacy.
I was humbled, because it is those tirelessly trying to make things better who are the real ones to thank.
The second response to my comments was from a NZ white supremacist on YouTube, who attacked me as a racist for daring to call institutional racism out.
Between begging people to like and subscribe to his online ignorance through a thick British accent he lambasted me, by calling me a liar and a race hustler, for speaking a truth that he was too scared to engage with.
I recently wrote that one of the most difficult parts of being a politician is telling the truth when people are angered by that truth and frightened of it. While I personally don't have a problem calling a spade a spade, many politicians worldwide do and couch their words when it comes to controversial topics like racism.
Institutional racism in simple terms, is when the dominant culture continues to prosper at the expense of minorities. So obviously, that is non-Māori doing so much better than Māori and other cultures in this country.
It means that our people don't get the same chances and same opportunities, and live an existence where they are totally discriminated against. That sadly has been the Māori experience for far too long.
Pointing out that institutional racism is in every area of our society isn't a shocking new discovery. Report after report shows that Māori and Pasifika are consistently treated worse.
Māori make up 50.7 per cent of New Zealand's prison population, despite accounting for just 15 per cent of the general population. Also 46 per cent of Māori apprehended are prosecuted, compared to 9 per cent of non-Māori.
Māori make up 26 per cent of mental health service – while having more acute health issues and dying seven years younger than non-Māori. Add in educational under-achievement, plus repression of our cultural identity, and the case for institutional racism becomes overwhelmingly obvious.
When I say "there is widespread institutional racism", some people misinterpret this as me accusing them of being racist, which is wrong, but I can understand their confusion. Institutional racism, is not a term easily understood, and I know I have an obligation to explain what I'm talking about, because whenever you use the word racism, controversy is bound to follow.
However, some people deliberately misrepresent and lie about what Institutional racism and my view is. They hate people like me, they twist and misrepresent our view and call us radicals, activists and racists.
So, ironically the racists call us racists for advocating for our people and will do anything and say anything against us in their attempts to shut us down.
Pointing out institutional racism doesn't mean I'm accusing individuals of being racist; the majority of New Zealanders I've come across are good-hearted people, who would be the first to stand against racism, and that is our collective strength.
I have spent my life talking about these issues, and institutional racism was one of the main reasons I got back into politics.
Māori deserve a chance, we deserve equity in funding, "by Māori for Māori solutions", and I'm proud to be a Minister in a Government that is finally addressing this obvious injustice, with solutions that empower Māori rather than fail them.
In Jacinda Ardern, we have a leader who understands the importance of actively pushing for better outcomes – because of her courage, we have Matariki as a public holiday, we have Oranga Tamariki becoming transformational, and now a Māori Health Agency. We also have more direct funding for Māori than any other Government before.
This is what a functioning, positive Treaty partner relationship looks like. We are a better people for being honest with our history and failures rather than denying it.
• Willie Jackson is the Minister for Māori Development.