Mahuta was on a Foreign Affairs mission at Waitangi Weekend – but Jackson kept “co-governance” alive for party politicking

Buzz from the Beehive

We found just one fresh announcement on the Beehive website this morning, when we made our first visit since 4 February.   It was posted in the name of Nanaia Mahuta, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, and explained why she was not at Waitangi at the weekend.

Two more statements were posted later in the day.

Both of them bestow benefits on Maori.

The treats of Waitangi, you might say…

Pākinga Pā site to be gifted back to local hapū

An historic Northland pā site with links to Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika is to be handed back to iwi, after collaboration by government, private landowners and local hapū.

New initiatives to unlock Māori science and research resources

The Government is investing in a suite of initiatives to unlock Māori and Pacific resources, talent and knowledge across the science and research sector.

The Pākinga Pā site will be transferred to a Whenua Tōpū Trust to manage in perpetuity on behalf of Ngāpuhi thanks to “the generosity and respect shown by  private landowners” and a $750,000 investment by a Government regional economic development fund.

The second announcement involves the establishment of two new funds that will provide up to $10 million per year to Māori organisations to build Māori research capacity, capability and aspirations over the next five year.

But today, Point of Order has focused on the travel plans of Nanaia Mahuta, who – until Jacinda Ardern resigned as Prime Minister last month – was also Minister of Local Government and a zealous champion of Three Waters and co-governance.

Incoming Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, reshuffling the Cabinet, dropped her from eighth to 16th and gave the Local Government job to Kieran McAnulty, who was promoted from being an unranked minister outside Cabinet to 18th on the list.

According to  RNZ:

Hipkins said Mahuta’s “portfolio load has been reduced to focus on Foreign Affairs”.

“I do expect she will be out and about travelling more, when she took on the portfolio in the first place she wasn’t able to travel, and so had other portfolio responsibilities in addition to that whilst the border was closed.”

He thought everybody accepted she would have to travel more than she had been.

At the weekend she packed her bags, but not to travel to Waitangi.

Rather, according to Thomas Cranmer:

… newly demoted Minister, Nanaia Mahuta cancelled a reception and speech that she had planned to give to invited foreign guests at Waitangi, opting instead to fly to India to repair a relationship described last year as “not in good health”.

Her travel plans were announced on Saturday:

Advancing our relationship in India

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta departs for India tomorrow as she continues to reconnect Aotearoa New Zealand to the world.

The visit would begin in New Delhi where Mahuta would meet Vice President Hon Jagdeep Dhankar and her Indian Government counterparts, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda.

She will then travel to Mumbai to promote New Zealand’s education, trade, and tourism interests in India’s commercial and industrial capital.

“Reconnecting New Zealand remains a key priority as we look to strengthen our economic resilience and progress ties with our international partners,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

“Aotearoa New Zealand and India have an energetic and vibrant relationship. We share strong people-to-people links with more than 240,000 people of Indian descent calling New Zealand home.                                                                           

“We also share ambitious goals between our countries and I will be reinforcing our commitment to supporting closer private sector collaboration and improved air services.

“The visit will also provide an opportunity to progress indigenous engagement, following initial discussions by Minister Whaitiri during her visit last year.”

With a focus on economic recovery and resilience, Mahuta said she will meet with the Chair of the India New Zealand Business Council and host a roundtable with NZTE representatives.

These discussions will allow her to underline our strategy for lifting our bilateral commercial and economic ties.

“New Zealand sees India as a core and influential partner in the Indo-Pacific and we have welcomed their participation in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. This framework offers a key vehicle for engaging with India as part of a broader regional agenda.

“Both of our countries value each other’s perspectives on the Pacific region and we will discuss opportunities to work together in climate change and our views on regional security.”

Mahuta recalled that when Minister Jaishankar visited New Zealand last year, both agreed that “the relationship was ready for its next phase”.

She said she looked forward to building on this momentum and joining the International Solar Alliance, which India and France established in 2015 to promote solar energy cooperation and climate action globally.

Mahuta returns to New Zealand on Sunday 12 February.

In her absence, plenty of other politicians have pitched in to keep the co-governance debate alive.

It’s reasonable to suppose some of the discussion was conducted in the private meeting rooms of Waitangi’s Copthorne Hotel & Resort, where the National Iwi Chairs Forum (NICF) deliberates in secret upon Maoridom’s next moves.

As Chris Trotter observed:

It is there, in the days leading up to Waitangi Day, that New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, will either face down the men and women driving the stake of co-governance into the heart of the Settler State – or see Labour spiral slowly to defeat.

Willie Jackson has certainly been banging on about it, according to Newsroom.

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson says the ship’s sailed on explaining co-governance to the public, which is why it needs to be reframed in a way it can be understood.

“David Seymour and Christopher Luxon have successfully transitioned a section of the New Zealand public into thinking that it is all part of a Māori take-over,” he told Newsroom in an interview at Waitangi.

“We have to reframe it, and we’re looking at possibilities… it’s just become so tainted.”

It looks like Labour’s Maori caucus will be calling the tune:

Cabinet’s discussions around how to re-pitch co-governance to the public in an election year will take place over the next few weeks, Jackson said, and the Māori caucus is meeting in the coming week to talk about some of the potential solutions.

Jackson will be doing his damndest to ensure “co-governance” (or whatever it is called) strengthens the political power of Maori tribal leaders.

“You heard the iwi leaders on Friday. We can’t betray our people in terms of throwing them under the bus, but I’ve asked them to have a pragmatic look at things and we’ll work in tandem with them.”

And (apparently to promote the politically divisive potential of the issue):

A sure way Māori will get “thrown under the bus, crushed and killed” is under a National-ACT government, Jackson says.

“What we’ve already got in place is all the frameworks and set-ups that we used to dream about. But this is politics in 2023 and race is high on the Seymour-Winston Peters-Luxon agenda, so for us we must relook at things in terms of what’s working and what’s not.”

Jackson’s message to iwi leaders is to “work with us or you work against us”.

“They’re going to have to trust people like myself, Kelvin Davis, and Nanaia to navigate this.”

Did he imagine there would be no response?

ACT leader David Seymour called for Hipkins to “swiftly and categorically condemn Labour frontbencher Willie Jackson’s violent rhetoric about the prospects of Māori under an ACT-National government”.

Talk of Māori being ‘thrown under the bus, crushed and killed’ under a National-ACT government’ was “violent, divisive, unnecessary, and offensive”.

Seymour took issue with the PM, too:

“Chris Hipkins claims that ACT has made the issue of co-governance divisive. He needs to clean house and pull Jackson into line.”

Of course, Hipkins had a great change to “clean house” when he decided who should have which ministerial jobs – and pushed Jackson up the pecking order.

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