Māori Party Co-leader challenges Simon Bridges for lack of Māori voices on Epidemic Response Committee
Māori Party Co-leader and Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is challenging Simon Bridges and the Epidemic Response Committee on the fact that only two representatives from Māori organisations, and not one iwi representative or Māori health or education expert, have been invited to present to the committee over the last six weeks. Bridges, who chairs the Committee, is understood to have sole discretion over who is invited to present to the Committee.
“Māori have led an extensive pandemic response effort across the country and National leader Simon Bridges choosing to ignore our voices is a clear example of deliberate exclusion, and that he’s willing to let divisive politics get in the way of Māori wellbeing,” said Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.
“The Epidemic Response Committee is the primary method of holding Government to account and scrutinising their decisions during the pandemic. It is completely unacceptable for Māori voices to be left out.
“Simon Bridges choosing not to invite one Māori health or education expert is just beyond belief. The other members on the Committee also have a responsibility to challenge him and force him to invite Māori into the room.
“Not talking with Māori health experts is political negligence and shows that Simon Bridges is willing to let racist politics take precedence over public health. Our experts such as Dr Rawiri Jansen, Prof Papaarangi Reid, Assoc Prof Sue Crengle and the whole national Māori pandemic group, Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, have played a crucial role in the country’s public health response – the voices of he and his colleagues must be heard by decision-makers.
“The pandemic has highlighted just how far Simon Bridges and the National Party are willing to go in inciting racism to appeal to the redneck sections of his voter base. He is using the committee to attack Māori, such as on iwi checkpoints, without giving us the same platform to respond or bring our voices to the table.
“One of the core reasons for the Māori Party is to call out politicians using their political power against our people. That’s why we are asking our people to return us Parliament at this years’ election to be an unapologetic voice for Māori,” said Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.