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'Millions of dollars in lost productivity': Mass Te Pāti Māori protest to choke roads

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Mon, 4 Dec 2023, 2:04PM

'Millions of dollars in lost productivity': Mass Te Pāti Māori protest to choke roads

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Mon, 4 Dec 2023, 2:04PM

Mass protests planned for tomorrow are expected to result in gridlock on the main highways heading into Auckland’s city centre, likely causing millions of dollars in lost productivity, Te Pāti Māori party says.

Disruption is expected across North Island roads tomorrow morning as Te Pāti Māori calls for nationwide action in response to the Government’s “assault on tangata whenua and Te Tiriti o Waitangi”.

Te Pāti Māori party secretary Lance Norman said they were expecting hundreds - potentially thousands - of vehicles to join convoys heading slowly into Auckland’s city centre along the state highways from the North Shore, the northwestern and southern motorways.

“We are sending a clear message to Government on day one that we are not happy.”

Last month National agreed to support Act’s policy for a binding public referendum on defining the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi through its first stage.

The commitment does not ensure there will be a referendum, as National and NZ First have not pledged any support beyond the committee stage, but does ensure there will be a national conversation about the issue.

Norman said the protests had emerged after iwi leaders and Māori providers met soon after the new Government was announced, and confirmed last night a national day of action for the first day of Parliament on Tuesday.

”Every city will have some sort of protest, road block, march,” he said.

The protests are expected to cause "gridlock" on Auckland motorways tomorrow morning, Te Pāti Māori says. Photo / Dean Purcell

The protests are expected to cause "gridlock" on Auckland motorways tomorrow morning, Te Pāti Māori says. Photo / Dean Purcell

The protests were in response to the National, Act and NZ First coalition’s policies around Te Tiriti o Waitangi - such as Act’s bid to redefine the principles, scrapping of the Māori Health Authority and Oranga Tamariki policies along with repealing the smokefree generation law.

Not all protests have been organised by the party, but the party is helping to facilitate and advertise the different actions.

In Te Whanganui-ā-Tara/Wellington the protest planned to shut down the Terrace Tunnel but would now gather Aurora Terrace above State Highway 1.

The protests come as MPs will be sworn into Parliament on Tuesday.

”The key message is we have a Treaty that says we are a partner and for the first 140 years it did not go so well and the last 40 years we have had some good wins - now this new Government wants to take it all away.”

Norman said they had been in communication with police right from the beginning.

”In New Zealand we have the right to peaceful protest. Police will be there to facilitate and make sure there is no rule-breaking.

”We understand a lot of people will be unhappy but we have been talking nicely to this Government and so this is the reaction.”

Te Pāti Māori party co-leader Rawiri Waititi. Photo / Erica Sinclair
Te Pāti Māori party co-leader Rawiri Waititi. Photo / Erica Sinclair

In a social media post earlier today, Te Pāti Māori said it would be demonstrating the might of tangata whenua and tangata Tiriti working together.

The party has described it on social media as “our first hit out and tomorrow”, coinciding with the opening of Parliament, where all the MPs are required to swear an oath of allegiance to the King of England.

“The revolution of Gen-T [Generation Tiriti] standing up for and protecting the rights of all of our mokopuna.

“Asserting the mana of Te Tiriti o Waitangi as enduring and everlasting.”

Auckland protesters are being told to meet at 7am at the start of all three major motorway routes into the city.

Auckland Transport, police and NZTA are working together to prepare for possible disruption across Auckland’s motorway network.

“Further information and advice for the public will be provided later today, and we urge people to watch for updates on our website and social media channels,” an NZTA spokesperson said.

Police, Auckland Transport and the Auckland Mayor’s office have been approached for comment.

There are also meeting spots throughout Hauraki-Waikato, Te Tai Hauāuru, Te Tai Tokerau, Wairarapa and Wellington, including the Terrace Tunnel.

“In alignment with the opening of the 54th term of Parliament, we, Te Pāti Māori, are making a nationwide call to get our people beating the streets with their feet and their voices,” the Te Pāti Māori spokesperson told teaonews.co.nz on Sunday.

This will be “just the start” of a series of protest actions over the next three years, they said.

“This national protest is in direct response to the Government changes that seek to rapidly dismantle three generations’ worth of work under an agenda that blatantly disregards the place of Māori in Aotearoa and looks to marginalise us as tangata whenua,” a copy of the pānui supplied to teaonews.co.nz on Sunday says.

Protest locations

Whangarei: New World Regent, 167 Bank St. 7am.

Auckland: Palmers Albany Garden Centre, Hugh Green Dr and Greville Rd. 7am.

Washworld Pod, Hobsonville, Hobsonville and Brigham Creek Rds. 7am.

BP Bombay, Mill Rd. 7am.

Hampton Downs: 20 Hampton Downs Rd. 7am.

Rangiriri: 10 Talbot St. 6am.

Ohinewai: Ohinewai Hall, 1 Lilley Ln. 7am.

Hamilton: Te Ara Hou Village, 100 Morrinsville Rd.

Te Kohao Health, 951 Wairere Dr.

The Base, Te Rapa Rd.

Braemar Hospital intersection, Ohaupo Rd.

Killarney and Kahikatea Rds

Five Cross Rds roundabout, Enderly.

The Wayward Pigeon, 2 Gordonton Rd, Chartwell.

Founders Theatre, King St and Norton Rd.

Rotorua: Rotorua Energy Events Centre, Queens Dr. 7am.

Tauranga: Whareroa Reserve, Taiaho Pl, Mount Maunganui. 6.30am.

Gisborne: Heipipi (Endeavour) Park, Gladstone Rd and Customhouse St. 7am.

Hastings: Hastings Clock Tower, Russell St South. 7.30am.

Palmerston North: Skoglund Park, Thames St. 7.15am.

Hawera: Town Square, 9 Union St. 7am.

New Plymouth: Cobb and Co, 198 Courtney St. 7am.

Tokoroa: Tokoroa Youth Park, Roslin St. 7am.

Porirua: North City Shopping Centre, 2 Titahi Bay Rd. 7am.

Masterton: The Farriers Bar and Eatery, 3 Queen St. 9am.

Wellington: Aurora Terrace bridge. 7am.

Christchurch: Bridge of Remembrance, Cashel St. 5.30pm.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader and Waiariki MP Rawiri Waititi. Photo / Erica Sinclair
Te Pāti Māori co-leader and Waiariki MP Rawiri Waititi. Photo / Erica Sinclair

Labour MP responds to protest

Labour MP Peeni Henare said it did not surprise him that Māori were moving to protest against what he said “seems to be an aggressive Māori agenda” from the Government.

However, he said he did not agree with some of the rhetoric being used by some, including Te Pāti Māori, saying it “incites anarchy”.

”Te Pāti Māori yesterday shared a screenshot of another user’s post on Instagram which described the Government parties as “white supremacists”.

”The post first referred to the backdown on the smoking reforms and said “well done to those who voted in the white supremacists and their Robert Muldoon thinking”.

Te Pāti Māori has previously described the Government’s repeal of the smokefree reforms as amounting to “genocide”.

Henare said he did not agree the Government were white supremacists and disagreed with such rhetoric.

“I don’t agree with that rhetoric. That kind of language I think just incites anarchy.

”We’ve got a job here to represent the views of our whānau and our communities and I’ve always been clear when I’ve spoken to them that the best way to do that is here in [Parliament} with meaningful debate and a strong push against this Government.”

He said Māori needed to be clear about exactly what they were fighting against.

”Our whānau are ready. We’ve been up for this fight for decades, so it doesn’t surprise me. The only thing I would ask for our whānau is we continue to remember and care for each other and to be clear about what we are standing up against.

”At the moment, the new Government has made their agenda but with very little detail. So it’s important we know what it is.”

Last week Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi told Te Ao News the Government wanted to “remove all trace of us as Māori”.

“Our language, our place as tangata whenua, our efforts to improve Māori health and include cultural considerations within Oranga Tamariki. It also wants to wipe out what our ancestors envisaged through the Treaty of Waitangi,” he told the outlet.

Waititi likened the policies to being “consumed by an evil monster” – “He taniwha kikino kei te kai i a tātou”.

In a Herald column last week, former politician and broadcaster Tukoroirangi Morgan said in just over a month the new coalition Government had rendered Māori “an almost nullity”.

“The last time that occurred was in 1877 when the then Chief Justice James Prendergast proclaimed the Treaty was ‘worthless’ because it had been signed ‘between a civilised nation and a group of savages’ who were incapable of signing a treaty,” he wrote.

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