Winston Peters Speech - August 8th

New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters

Tauranga Yacht Club,
7pm, 8 August 2019
“National and Maori Party’s Reckless Revision and Division”

 

Good evening and thank you for coming along.

In the last few months you’ve heard all sorts of stories about the state of the New Zealand economy. And if you have been listening to the local Member of Parliament then it’s all bad news. Except it’s not - bad that is, but very good. The latest growth figures show that New Zealand is outperforming Australia, all of Europe, the United Kingdom and Japan.

Of course when you hear comment about the state of the economy it pays to ask just what is the background of the person giving the opinion, and can both that opinion and that person be trusted?

For example, two days ago I heard an economist say that there was a lack of confidence in the New Zealand share market. What’s extraordinary about that is that our share market is at an all-time record high. Which suggests that this economist doesn’t know how the share market works. That is, when confidence is down the share market is down and when confidence is up the share market is up. Either that or share market watching is like a spectator sport where people in the stands claim to understand more than the All Blacks down on the field. Now you would call that approach moronic in sport and you should call these commentators out in the same way. Then again there is an old English saying “the malady of the ignorant is to be ignorant without knowing it”.

Exports from New Zealand in 2019 are going at record levels and imports are down, which means we are starting to better pay our way.

Earlier this week, on the very day where a number of economists were saying that unemployment was going to go up even to 4.5%, it instead went down to 3.9%. This is the lowest New Zealand has seen in 11 years. But your local MP, had said this in a tweet “Its started. Unemployment is up. Is anyone seriously going to debate that this isn’t because of the Ardern Peters Govt’s policies? Its time they acknowledge their responsibility and make serious changes for NZers’ sake”.

Therefore by Simon’s logic it’s very simple; unemployment going down has got to be the work of Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters.

And the Government has an improved surplus. All whilst at the same time investing in seriously high operating spending to 3.8 billion per annum, and by lifting our capital spending to historically high levels as well. In short, we are running an economy for the 21st century, with more business, more science, more research and development, and more desperately needed infrastructure. Our plan is to have a balanced investment in transport. That means roads in the regions are getting a massively better deal out of this Government. This means improving road safety, investing in public transport and you guessed it, it means investing in other modes of transport as well, such as rail and maritime movements.

With this Government we are in the 21st century, fobbing off Members of Parliament who are trapped in the previous one.

There are many issues we could have talked about tonight, but let’s look at the disgraceful politicisation of people’s misery and woe conducted by the National Party.

In their nine years they did virtually nothing to help Pharmac funding for cancer or other ailments, virtually nothing to help those suffering from rare diseases, and now in Opposition they say they are going to start a new cancer agency. Now hearing that, you would not have thought that in 2015, when last in government, they would have abolished Cancer Control New Zealand. On the 8th of July that year Dr Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Health at that time, said it was “no longer needed”. 

And when the public were demanding of National in 2017 further funding of Pharmac to provide more cancer medicine, Dr Coleman said that it was “not the government’s job to choose which medicines get funded”. Yet Simon Bridges came out last week and nominated two cancer drugs to be funded, just like that. He promised $200million over four years, which is the total cost of the two drugs he has nominated over the next four years.

When political parties were talking about establishing a cancer agency in July 2017 that micro-meddling muddler, Hon Steven Joyce, Nationals campaign manager said: “It’s a waste of money to spend $10million on an agency”….”a new agency wouldn’t solve anything”. The then short-term National Party leader Bill English said, “creating another bureaucracy is not going to create more cancer treatment”…”its marketing- it’s just another bureaucracy”.

Are you beginning to smell a rat?

New Zealanders have been thanking us for our common sense polices and for using our experience to keep the ship of state on an even keel. Whether it’s not having an extension of the National Party’s Capital Gains Tax, or ensuring that people get higher wages, more work, a stricter and more focused immigration policy, or standing up in particular for Provincial New Zealand, that’s what New Zealand people expect New Zealand First to do, and that’s what we are doing.

Rebuilding railways, addressing climate change and erosion with a billion trees programme that is ambitious and visionary, but above all essential. We are out there doing it, not yapping like a badly bred dog, at the front gate, barking at everything and anything going by. Does that remind you of someone?

And tonight New Zealand First would like to talk about recent events taking place within Maoridom. If one turned on the news these past few weeks there have been constant images of discord and protest. Ihumatao and the Oranga Tamariki uplift controversies have dominated the news cycle but the coverage has provided only distorted and untruthful representations of these issues. 

 

Ihumatao

Let’s turn to the unlawful occupation of Ihumatao, in Mangere, South Auckland. The protestors, 99% of whom have no whakapapa to the area and are without the mana to speak on the issue, have occupied the site for the past three years.

Some have called the issue a lightning rod for a national discussion on Māori land rights. The issue is being sensationalised in the media as this generation’s “Bastion Point moment”.

I say to those protestors, if you’re looking for your Bastion Point moment, this isn’t it.

The fact these comparisons are being drawn in the first place exposes great ignorance. Clearly, the facts of the case are not being accurately reported to the public.

The media have glossed over the deep divisions within Maoridom over the issue, and have accepted, without question, the claims of the protestors.  

But an even cursory look at the facts is enough to know the premise on which the protest is based is seriously flawed.

For one, the so-called ‘protectors’ claims that the site was a burial ground has been shown to be false. The land destined to become a housing development in point of fact were once wheat fields.

The historical record has been deliberately distorted. The protest, to put it simply, has been built on misinformation.

This is recognised by all those in Maoridom who are familiar with the facts of the case.

The original alienation of Maori from Ihumatao involved the wartime confiscation of land from those sympathetic to the Kingitanga movement.

But today, Kingitanga wants the development to proceed, respecting the wishes of the mana whenua of the area and recognising the facts of the case.

The local iwi, too, the mana whenua of the area, support the development.

They recognise what is important to Maori:

  • First World education standards;
  • First World health services
  • First World incomes, and;
  • First World housing, which this development supports.

They accept Ihumatao has already been covered by a Treaty of Waitangi settlement, representing the full and final settlement of claims to the area. Political parties including the Maori party supported that settlement, but now they want to do a somersault.

Meanwhile the local iwi want to look forward, not back.

Now, if the protestors had the kind of case the media would like you to think they have, you would expect their claim to be borne out by some kind of evidence. But the authorities have roundly rejected their claims.

The Ihumatao development has been extensively tested in the courts including in the Māori Land Court, Environment Court, and the United Nations, and Heritage New Zealand has rejected their claims about the archaeological significance of the site. Their claims, at every turn, have failed.

Fletchers, to their immense credit, have ensured a higher level of protection for the area than was required by the law, have given 25% of the land back, and reserved some of the housing for the mana whenua of the area.

Yet, the media is calling the situation a ‘tragedy’. The real tragedy here is the behaviour of the protestors. And some seriously uninformed commentators.

Kaumatua and kuia of Te Kawerau a Maki, Tainui and Te Akitai have come onto the site and pleaded with the protestors to return peace to their village.

They consider the behaviour of the protestors damaging to their marae, their tikanga. Ninety-nine percent of the protesters have no whakapapa to the site, no mana to speak on the issue.

They do not understand tikanga or how to observe proper protocol. In fact, they’ve shown blatant disregard for it, and it is clear they do not speak for the mana whenua of Ihumātao.

Through the media’s sensationalising of the issue, a dispute over a plot of simple farmland has become a flashpoint. These tensions are being heightened by comments such as that which came out of the Maori Party last week, who claimed the Government’s position of not buying back the land reflected the Crown’s “racism”. Now that’s not what they said when the Treaty of Waitangi settlement occurred.

They know very well that to buy the land back would undermine the principles of the Treaty settlement process that has been followed in this country for decades. They know such a step would reverse the progress made over the past generation towards settling the historical grievances of Maori.

Incendiary, irresponsible comments like those seriously jeopardise our country’s race relations.

 

Marine And Coastal Area Act

Our race relations are also being jeopardised in another way: namely, through the race-based claim to New Zealand’s coastline.

In 2005 the Foreshore and Seabed Act was in place. Being an initiative from New Zealand First. That legislation had been supported by every costal Iwi in New Zealand. The then Maori Party knew that and so they kept quiet between 2005 and 2008. However straight after the 2008 election they joined with the National party government to repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act and replace it with the Marine and Coastal Area Act.

National's Marine and Coastal Area Act opened the way for New Zealanders with Maori ancestors to claim title to the foreshore and seabed, overturning the previous Government’s Foreshore and Seabed Act.

When it was passed by Christopher Finlayson and John Key in 2011, New Zealand First warned it would haunt the country for decades. Now, thousands of claims are being made by coastal iwi for the ownership of swathes of New Zealand’s coastline.

These claims of ownership amount to over 10 million hectares of beaches and seabed out to 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres). The area claimed is equivalent to over one third of New Zealand's total land area.

Not only has this locked us in to decades of costly negotiation, applicant groups engaging with the Crown can apply for taxpayer funding of between $162,000 and $412,000 depending on the complexity of the case.

And Iwi are now opposing other Iwi for the same coastline. Some Iwi have lodged claims where they have, in a Maori sense, no rights at all.

Worse than this, National’s legislation has emboldened some coastal Maori to take the law into their own hands.

The most egregious examples come from the Waikato, at Taharoa near the entrance to Kawhia Harbour. There, members of Ngati Mahuta, an iwi which has filed a claim for the foreshore and seabed, have tried to restrict any and all public access, and in more than one case, shot at members of the public surfing at the beach.

More and more stories have emerged of bullies, who claim to ‘own’ the coastline, threatening and intimidating those using the area. Yet, no arrests have been made in relation to these incidents.

This situation was avoidable. Had the National Government listened to the voice of reason, namely New Zealand First, we would be in a situation where access to our coastal areas remained our birthright, and would be held in trust by the Crown on behalf of all New Zealanders in perpetuity.

Now, we face decades of claims and untold hundreds of millions of dollars of legal fees, and emboldened radicals patrolling our beaches, trying to prevent the public, including Maori, enjoyment of what is rightfully theirs.

The situation at Taharoa has become intolerable. The actions of these lawbreakers, and others like them all around the country, threaten the bicultural foundation on which our country is based.

 

Oranga Tamariki Uplifts

Something else that is jeopardising our race relations is the current inflamed and ill-informed rhetoric around Oranga Tamariki uplifts. Oranga Tamariki is being accused of institutional racism for its uplifting of Maori children from their parents.

Social workers are being harassed and threatened, and some Oranga Tamariki offices have even had to close because of fears for the safety of their social workers.

The children uplifted from these circumstances are being called “New Zealand's own 'stolen generation.'” How insulting to the experience of aboriginal Australians is that?

The facts are that the children being uplifted face perilous situations. Every two days in this country, a child is admitted to hospital with non-accidental injuries. And in the past 20 years, over 100 children have been killed in New Zealand, 80% of whom were killed by their parents.

There should be no apologies when Oranga Tamariki uplifts a child from an abusive, dangerous or otherwise neglectful environment. We know the system isn’t perfect. No one is saying that. Oranga Tamariki is a system this Government inherited and is a system which we've got to keep on working to improve.

And the Government is doing more to improve the wellbeing of our nation’s vulnerable children than any other has done in a generation, having invested $1 billion in Oranga Tamariki in Budget 2019 to protect our most vulnerable. But we have made it clear that Oranga Tamariki will not stop uplifting children if there is a continued danger to those children.

And that continued danger, if not confronted head on, is to wantonly condone criminal behaviour and ignore it because race is involved.

And the incidence of the brutalisation of children in Maori homes remains unacceptably high. To put an end to the uplifting of Maori children, Maoridom first needs to take its responsibilities to protect them, seriously.

We heard chants from the protesters who converged on Wellington last week of "not one more child to be taken". What we should have heard were chants of "not one more child to be abused". Not one more child to be victimised”

To change that kind of attitude will require nothing less than a cultural renaissance within Maoridom.

 

There is a lot right about our race relations. Maori are succeeding across every front whether in business, the law, the arts, sports and academia. Maori are looking forward, not back.

What is sickening in the cases discussed here tonight is that minority interests within Maoridom are attempting to exploit tragedy to advance their narrow political interest of trying to refloat the Maori Party.  

But Maori voters decided in 2017 that the Maori Party had failed them and consigned that party to oblivion, and rightly so. Those voters saw how the Maori Party abandoned their flax-root supporters in favour of the brown table of the Iwi Leadership Group and their corporate interests.  

New Zealand First is confident that in 2019 ever greater numbers of voters prefer the path of development and opportunity than grievance and division. These voters won’t be fooled again by the backward looking posture and accumulated grievances of the Maori Party. That, New Zealand First is pleased to say, is a healthy sign within Maoridom and throughout all New Zealand and we applaud it.

 

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