The Government has announced the creation of new Māori Crown relations agency after New Zealand First objected to the first proposal for one.

The new unit, the Office for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti [the bridge,] does not have the word partnership in its title.

It is understood that New Zealand First objected to "partnership" being in the title of the agency and the portfolio of the relevant minister, Kelvin Davis, as was originally proposed.

But the new agency puts "Māori" first in the title ahead of "Crown" in both the name of the agency and in the title of the portfolio. He was previously the Minister for Crown Māori Relations.


He will now be the Minister for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti.

Announcing the new agency, Davis said the name reflected feedback from hui he held across the country about his portfolio that Māori should appear first in the relationship.

"The Māori name, Te Arawhiti, refers to the transition phase we are in, that is 'the bridge' between Māori and the Crown," he said.

"The agency…will help facilitate the next step in the Treaty relationship – moving beyond the settlement of treaty grievances into what it means to work together in partnerships."

The new agency will consolidate several other offices into one agency, including the Crown-Māori Relations Unit, the Office of Treaty Settlements which negotiates treaty settlements on behalf of the Government, the unit considering foreshore and seabed claims (the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Team, and the settlement commitments unit.

Titewhai Harawira and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the announcement. Photo / NZ Herald
Titewhai Harawira and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the announcement. Photo / NZ Herald

According to Davis' statement, the agency will have responsibility for developing a new engagement model between Māori the public sector.

It will also provide leadership across the public sector on other matters "including the constitutional and institutional arrangements supporting partnerships between the Crown and Māori."

Veteran Māori activist Titewhai Harawira and other members of an advisory group to Davis joined Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the cabinet room last week for what had been billed to media as an announcement.


It was delayed for a week while further talks were held with New Zealand First.