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Greens issue wero on Maori seats

8 August 2005

Greens issue wero on Maori seats

The Greens are calling for political parties to publicly restate their commitment to the Maori seats, Maori Issues Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

The call comes after the idea of entrenching their status was raised by journalists at the Prime minister's post-Cabinet media conference today. Mrs Turei is a list MP who is standing in Te Tai Tonga in this year's election.

"National and NZ First want to do away with the Maori seats, but ultimately that is solely the prerogative of Maori themselves, something that is tested by the proxy referendum of the five-yearly Maori electoral option," Mrs Turei says.

"I call on all other parliamentary political parties who oppose Mr Brash and Mr Peters' agenda to loudly and clearly say that they support the seats continuation until such time as Maori themselves say otherwise.

"If these seats were about a ethnic preference, as Messrs Brash and Peters claim, then the argument that a proportional representative system such as MMP renders them redundant would carry more weight. But the fact is that the Maori seats are now about giving life to the Tiriti relationship between tangata whenua and tangata tiriti. A time may come where other structures mean that they are no longer needed to realise that relationship, but we're nowhere near that yet.

"The retention of the Maori seats is one of the areas in which the Greens find common cause with the Maori Party. We're also glad to see their newly announced policy stances on the RMA and genetic engineering.

"We are very pleased to see another Party as committed to Maori and community decision-making in resource management decisions as we are. Hapu and iwi in particular have had many years of struggle trying to get territorial authorities to take their decision-making role seriously - some local authorities do well, others very poorly. Maori often suffer the most perfunctory of consultations, with little respect for their status as mana whenua.

"The Greens have worked tirelessly to protect Aotearoa from the potential dangers of genetic engineering. Greens and Maori worked together throughout the GE-Free campaign to inform the public and to pressure the Government to introduce greater protection. GE remains a serious issue as evidenced by the recent reports of contaminated maize growing. The Maori Party's policy to reinstate the GE moratorium shows that the issue of GE remains high on the agenda in the Maori community, as it does across the country.

"In an MMP environment, it is critical that voters identify parties which can work together on particular policy platforms. We look forward to working with the Maori Party on these and other issues after 17 September," Mrs Turei says.

ENDS

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