The New Zealand Maori Council has thanked the public of New Zealand for being bold and brave when it comes to the two national referendum questions – one on the End of Life Choice Bill and the second on Cannabis. Speaking to media outlets on the announcement of the results from the Electoral Commission, Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki welcome the participation in democracy but also cautioned that more needed to be done on both fronts.
The number of voters who chose ‘no’ in the End of Life Choice referendum reached 33.8 percent. In the cannabis question, ‘yes’ received 46.1 percent of the vote so far, compared to 53.1 percent of ‘no’ votes. The eunthanasia question gathered a total of 1,574,645 ‘yes’ votes and 815,829 ‘no’ votes so far. There were a total of 1,114,485 ‘yes’ votes for cannabis reform, 167,333 short of the 1,281,818 votes for ‘no’.
“More work needs to be done on the safeguard measures around Euthanasia to ensure that there are no cracks through which the vulnerable and those at risk might fall. But I will say this time and time again – we still need to make sure Maori have a fighting chance at life and that means reform of the health system, better access to life extending medications and treatments as well as a fit for purpose pallitve care and end of life care system. We will continue to fight for the interests of Maori when it comes to access to world class health system.” Tukaki said
“I know there will be a lot of disappointment out there about the failure of the Cannabis referendum but can I just say this on the arrest and charge side of things – I expect the New Zealand Police to change their attitude to Maori – we are not your quota for arrests and charges and you have right now the discretion when it comes to Cannabis – use it. On the second front we need to treat this also as a health priority and ensure that we are doing everything we can around the treatment of addictions. The failure was an overwhelming response to the concerns many had but I would also strongly recommend to supporters of the “yes” side to focus their energy on continued reform” Tukaki said
“At the end of the day we need to move closer to action around reform of our health and criminal justice systems – these are tough jobs but we must be bold and brave by ensuring every New Zealander has a fighting chance at life and every New Zealander is treated fairly and equitably in our criminal justice system.” Tukaki said.