In his State of the Nation speech, Māori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples voiced his concerns over losing Māori electoral seats to a Pākeha caucus.
However Māori Labour MP, Shane Jones hit back claiming that with those words “Pita is trying to turn us into nobodies and he thinks our voices are powerless”.
The house was filled with Māori dignitaries for his speech but Shane Jones says, no invitation was sent to him.
He says “ in our time as well as Parekura’s all Māori politicians were invited to go to meetings like this. It’s a stupid idea for the Māori party to think that they are the only ones advancing the aspirations of Māoridom.”
Stand as Māori and work together was a key theme in the Minister’s speech, but his view differed in terms of working with other MPs.
Sharples says” it’s a battlefield, it’s a tough job because its very different we go there to battle. However Jones expressed his disgust with the Minister for not extending his invite to other Māori politicians.
However the spirit of unity for all Māoridom was echoed by the Minister of Māori Affairs, urging Mōari not to fight amongst one another but to put aside differences and come to a united stance on issues of importance to Māori.
Despite Dr Sharples laying down a challenge and ruffling the feathers of opposing parliamentarians, other memebers of the Māori realm praised him for his comments.
One of whom was the CEO of the Māori Language Commission Glennis Phillip Barbra who believed he had taken a good approach and understood that while some methods differed the goal for the majority of Māori was the same.
Chairman of Ngāpuhi Rūnanga Sonny Tau says “there are more Pakeha, Asians and Indians than us living here on our own lands so all of Māoridom needs to work together to moce forward if we don’t we’ll divide and fall.”
Only time will tell how Stand as Māori and working together will fare and whether this is something that will taken on board by all Māori MPs, regardless of the party they stand for.