At a public meeting in Tauranga, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters talked about the protests at Ihumātao, the Oranga Tamariki Child uplifts, and the tremendous economic performance of New Zealand that has resulted in its lowest unemployment rate in more than a decade.
The event at the Tauranga Yacht Club was hosted by NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell and was attended by many. Mr. Peters declared to the audience that New Zealand’s economy was performing well, proving wrong the prediction of many economists who warned otherwise.
Latest growth figures showed that New Zealand was outperforming Australia, the United Kingdom and Japan, while the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 per cent – an 11-year low.
He also said that the Coalition Government had an improved surplus and planned to have a balance investment in transport, which means regional roads will get a better deal than with previous governments.
Mr. Peters also shot down the media sensationalising the Ihumātao protests, saying it was nothing like Bastion Point and that divisions within Māoridom over the issue had been glossed over. He said the "unlawful occupation" was built on misinformation and most protesters were not mana whenua.
The Party Leader also called the criticism of Oranga Tamariki’s uplifts were ill-informed and that there should be no apologies when a child is uplifted from a dangerous environment.
Mr. Peters also highlighted the $1 billion allocated to the government agency in Budget 2019, as evidence of the Coalition Government’s commitment to improving the well-being of children.
He then took aim at the National Party’s farcical commitment to establishing a cancer agency, citing that when their party was in government, they were scornful of the idea. The Marine and Coastal Area Act, implemented by their party, had also opened the way for iwi to fight among themselves for the same coastline.
"Some iwi have lodged claims where they have, in a Māori sense, no rights at all". He said National's legislation had emboldened some iwi members to attack people who were using Tahāroa, near the entrance to Kāwhia Harbour in Waikato.