Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis has launched a stinging attack on Parliament's Opposition parties, saying their privilege had been built on the misery of others, including his own hapu.
He talked about an ancestor of his who had signed the Treaty of Waitangi in the belief that his valued possessions and resources would be his forever.
"But that was a lie.
"The Opposition fail to acknowledge that their prosperity was made off the back of my whānau's misery."
Davis is the Labour deputy leader, the Minister of Māori-Crown Relations, Children and Corrections, and the MP for the northern Māori seat of Te Tai Tokerau. He led off the general debate for Labour.
His speech appeared to be a response to comments by Act leader David Seymour saying his party would abolish Te Puni Kokiri - the Ministry of Māori Development, Te Arawhiti – the Office of Māori-Crown Relations, the Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Women's Affairs.
Act and National have also opposed a raft of Government proposals expanding models of co-governance between Crown agencies and Māori, saying it would give Māori more rights than other citizens.
Kelvin Davis said his tupuna had signed the treaty in the mistaken belief his possessions and resources would be his forever. Photo / Michael Cunningham
"Equality means we should start on the same playing field and that we should all have the same shot," said Davis.
"But history has meant we don't start on the same playing field.
"There is neither equality or equity in Aotearoa and the Opposition's goal to slash and burn the Ministry of Māori Development, the Office of Māori Crown Relations, the Office of Women's Affairs, the Human Rights Commission, the winter energy payment and the fees free scheme are all examples of agencies or policies designed to create equity for those who haven't benefitted by a system historically designed and propped up by and for the benefit of predominantly privileged Pakeha men."
The Opposition wanted to protect the status quo because it was their system that looked after their needs and they liked to think that if only more people were like them, then all the world's problems would fade away.
"They conveniently overlook the fact that their wealth, their privilege and their authority was built off the backs of other people's misery and the entrenched inequality across generations."
His tupuna four great grandfathers back was a rangatira who signed He Whakaputanga [the declaration of independence] and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
He had been the owner-operator of two alehouses. He had market-sized gardens that fed the hapū. He had collected customs duties off trading and whaling ships that went into the Bay of Islands.
Kelvin Davis on a visit to Mangaroa Prison in 2021. Photo / Paul Taylor
"He was setting his hapū, my hapū, up to be productive and successful both socially and in commerce."
He had signed the treaty in the mistaken belief that his valued possessions and resources would be his forever but that was a lie.
"His property rights were forgotten. He was told he couldn't collect the customs duties; only the Crown could.
"His pā and gardens were torched. He was arrested and imprisoned without trial or charges. He was told he couldn't operate in the hospitality space because he needed to be licensed but all of his means of revenue were confiscated.
"He was a chief who was made destitute by the system that created intergenerational poverty and inequity.
"He was made to relocate to a small area of the Bay of Islands. The pā that was torched and confiscated was recently sold for millions of dollars privately.
"His descendants who could have had lives of prosperity if Te Tiriti o Waitangi had been honoured now number in the tens of thousands and I would estimate that 80 per cent of them live on the breadline."
"My hapū in the day were left with nothing," said Davis.
"They could have done with a Ministry of Māori Development to help them get back on their feet. They could have done with Te Arawhiti, the Office for Māori Crown Relations because I can tell you at that point the relationship between the Māori and the Crown was pretty sour.
"They could have done with the winter energy payment because they were made homeless when their pā was razed to the ground because they were made homeless at the start of winter.
"They could have done with the Human Rights Commission because their human rights were horribly violated and, as most of us are a product of our upbringing, the lack of equality through the generations has led to gross inequity."
- by Audrey Young, NZ Herald