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17th of January 2018

Politics



Government Ministers' attack on iwi leaders slammed by National

National Crown/Māori Relations spokesman Todd Muller says two Government Ministers have been "deliberately antagonistic" ...

National Crown/Māori Relations spokesman Todd Muller says two Government Ministers have been "deliberately antagonistic" towards the Iwi Chairs Forum.

The Opposition has labelled two Government Ministers' attack on iwi leaders "arrogant" and "deliberately antagonistic".

Two senior Maori Ministers, Shane Jones and Willie Jackson, have disregarded the mandate of the Iwi Chairs Forum (ICF) in the lead-up to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's meeting with the group at Waitangi in February.

Last month Jones said "Halley's Commet would be back" before he would meet with the leaders after they threatened Supreme Court action if the Government didn't address Māori rights to freshwater.

Government Minister Willie Jackson attacked the Iwi Chairs Forum for never representing his constituents - Māori living ... MAARTEN HOLL/STUFF

Government Minister Willie Jackson attacked the Iwi Chairs Forum for never representing his constituents - Māori living in Auckland.

On Tuesday Jackson said he wasn't interested in the ICF's concerns about charter school closures because they had never spoken for his constituency in Auckland.

READ MORE:* Willie Jackson says iwi leaders have never represented Māori in Auckland* Māori freshwater rights set to be a stumbling block for coalition Government* Willie Jackson: 'I wanted to destroy the Māori Party'

National's Crown/Māori Relations spokesman Todd Muller said both Jones and Jackson's comments were a "remarkable attack" on the ICF's mana.

"Willie Jackson talked about the iwi leaders' group not representing his constituency - for a start he's not a constituent MP - secondly as we understand it he was standing initially for the Māori Party only to jump across at the last minute as part of a deal.

"So it surprises me he has such a level of personal antagonism to leadership in Māoridom, which I would have thought in his role is a critical relationship," Muller said.

The annual meeting between Government Ministers and the ICF at Waitangi would mean discussing some challenging issues, which "history would suggest you navigate from a position of mutual respect, not a position of mutual antagonism," he said.

"Rogue or not, they're the Government and they speak for the Government, so I'll be very interested to watch and listen to the iwi leaders' considered response to their comments."

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National Party leader Bill English said progress between the Crown and Māori "could go backwards" as a result of some Ministers' strongly held positions.

"I think these ministers are sounding off and there's a few ego issues there but these ministers will need to get over themselves because the Iwi Chairs Forum is a very useful body for Government to work with," he said.

However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern isn't concerned about her Ministers and MPs holding "individual opinions on a range of issues".

"I'm not concerned by that at all. I as Prime Minister have a range of options and invitations to engage directly with a whole range of forums and I take those invitations at face value and I'm keen to engage."

She said she didn't think Jones and Jackson's comments would make it difficult for her when she meets with the ICF at Waitangi.

 - Stuff

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