Thousands of people from around the country are expected to meet at Tūrangawaewae Marae in Ngāruawāhia on Saturday to discuss concerns about the coalition Government’s plans for Māori, particularly its policies on te reo and Treaty issues.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon met Kīngi Tūheitia on Monday ahead of the hui.
Jones told Morning Report the policies were what the public voted for.
“What the country voted for was a revamp and a reset, and a reset’s on the way.
“Transitions are always awkward, but there’s nothing in the coalition agreement that negates or delegitimises the Māori language.”
He believed strengthening te reo Māori should happen around the kitchen table, not in Government documents.
“The place where the language exists and can grow from strength to strength is at the kitchen table in the hearts and minds of the people, not in KPIs with bureaucrats.”
Large gatherings at Tūrangawaewae Marae were not unusual, but this one had gathered a sense of crisis, he said.
“Virtually none of [the iwi leaders] have read the coalition agreement,” he claimed. “So I’m just worried it’ll turn into a monumental moan session.”
However, an iwi leader rejected Jones’ claims.
Ngāti Kahungunu chair Bayden Barber told Morning Report there may be some moaning but mainly it was about looking forward – “acknowledging that it’s going to be a challenging three years for many Māori, and strategising and planning how we collectivise and how we come together around some of these kaupapa”.
He said the Government should consider the wider public, not just its voter base, and the impacts of its policies on Māori.
“You’ve got a people who have been a foundation, one part of the foundation of this country, and that’s iwi Māori. We are a partner to the Treaty of Waitangi … the messaging that’s coming out and the impact that it’s having on us, the people, they need to read the room.”