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Maori watching leadership with interest

Georgina te Heuheu
National Maori Affairs and Treaty Negotiations Spokesperson

9 October 2001

Maori watching leadership with interest

National's Maori Affairs and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations spokesperson Georgina te Heuheu says Maori will be watching with interest the performance and direction of National under its new leadership.

"Caucus has made a judgement that the National Party is better able to position itself for the long run with Bill English at the helm. Maori are interested to know how that is going to affect Maori representation for National in the Parliament, and the development and implementation of Maori policy by a National-led Government.

"There is a renewed interest in centre-right political philosophy among Maori, as Maori seek to determine their own futures, and help shape policies for the future.

"This is reflected in increasing interest in the National Party, and naturally Maori are keen to see the National Party's representation in Parliament reflect not only the new face of the Party, but the new face of the country.

"Many Maori are also very appreciative of the empowering policies that were a feature of the previous National Government, and acknowledge the role that Mrs Shipley, and previously Mr Bolger, played in promoting those.

"Both the Maori vice president, Wira Gardiner and I will be concerned to ensure that the new leadership has good solid advice on Maori policy, and that a future National Government builds on the gains made by Maori over the last 10 years.

"In addition, it is reassuring to know that Bill English has taken a strong interest in Treaty issues over a long period of time, and was a key member of Cabinet when the previous National Government settled some very important Treaty claims.

"I know he has a keen appreciation of such issues and a great passion as a New Zealander, both of which will be needed as we, as a country, seek to complete the Treaty settlement process and move forward together. "In Opposition, as in Government, National has an important role in helping shape our shared future.

"I would like to pay tribute to Mrs Shipley's commitment to Waitangi, and the annual celebrations she attended there. The ease with which she joined with the people of the north over the last few years, to promote the importance of the celebration, will always be appreciated. I know it was also reassuring to many New Zealanders to see her there.

"Maori are increasingly concerned over the sidelining of the Labour Maori MPs, and all of us are concerned that the Labour Government has allowed the Treaty settlement process to stall.

"I look forward to working with Bill English to ensure that Treaty issues, issues that affect all of us, are not allowed to be sidelined by the Labour Government," Mrs te Heuheu said.

Ends

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