This is Jacinda’s fourth Waitangi Day as Prime Minister and thankfully she wasn’t just offering the public holiday of Matariki in two years on the Treaty grounds, in fact, it was what wasn’t spoken this year that offers Māoridom the most hope.
The decision by the Government to simply overrule the deeply problematic petition threshold provision for Māori Wards on Local Councils was proof positive that Jacinda is walking the talk when it comes to Māori aspiration.
The usual Right Wing voices have been apoplectic in predicting the end of Western civilization as we know it if Local Councils are allowed to flex their conscience and install Māori wards to allow for representation. They claim these divisive and effectively racist petitions are desperately needed to prevent ‘Maori privilege’.
By refusing to buy into race-baiting dog whistles, this Government simply blocked this loophole regardless of the vitriolic frisson it would generate showing that Labour are prepared to ensure Māori representation isn’t just lip service and they will make the big calls when required.
When you consider the housing crisis, the inequality crisis, the poverty crisis and the Covid crisis all hit Māori the hardest, a public holiday in 2 years time and stopping racist petitions from blocking local Māori representation is the least Labour can do.