Last week, Māori Party Co-leader and Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Debbie Ngarewa-Packer demanded to know where the Maori voices on Simon Bridge’s Epidemic Response Committee were and she deserves an answer.
To be fair to Simon, the lack of Māori voices heard during this pandemic is not his fault, it is a structural bias that simply sees Māori as the problem rather than a solution.
The Epidemic Response Committee has been set up to deal with this unprecedented event but the usual blindspot of the lived Māori experience means decisions getting made are done so without listening to indigenous voices.
To his credit, Simon has come out and stated he will work harder to ensure Māori voices get heard but when you consider National’s role in attacking Indigenous checkpoints to stop tourists from possibly spreading the virus to rural Māori communities, you wonder how hard Simon will try to listen when he is so actively trying to gag the Māori experience.
In any economic downturn, Māori, Pacifica, the young and working people are the first to feel the bite, if we are to rebuild our economy we must listen to those who had less to start with because they will also be the ones with the most to lose.