Speech: Chris Hipkins - at Nga Whare Waatea Marae

Today, Chris Hipkins delivered a speech about Labour’s relationship with and ongoing commitment to Māori.

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, rau rangatira mā, tēnā koutou.

Te whare e tū nei, Ngā Whare Waatea

Te papa e takoto nei, takoto.

Ki ngā mana whenua

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

Walking through the gates of Nga Whare Waatea Marae, I couldn’t help but look through the windows of the kura- Waatea School.

Tamariki back from holidays learning beside their mates,

Art proudly displayed on the walls,

Kaiako sharing their love of learning.

A place where they grow their tamariki to be capable of operating across two worlds – te ao Pakeha and te ao Māori.

It’s a vision that reminds me of words spoken by Dame Whina Cooper.

Take care of our children.

Take care of what they hear

Take care of what they see.

Take care of what they feel.

For how the children grow, so will be the shape of Aotearoa.

What are we teaching our children this election?

I think of Willow Jean’s tamariki who had to hear how their mum was told off for speaking te reo Māori, and getting shouted down in a room full of people when she did so.

Our kids have heard candidates standing to be MPs refer to Māori as a disease, to be cut out and buried.

Children have scrolled past social media posts from the ACT party stating Tough on Crime - The best policy for Māori.

And they’ve heard Christopher Luxon’s say “Well buddy, you’ve got to vote on October 14 to get me into Government” when asked about signs that say ‘kura’ instead of school.

This rhetoric is incredibly bad for any of our children, but its especially Māori children.

I know how closely our kids observe the adult world and what I’ve seen in this election has really worried me.

But that will be much worse if that rhetoric makes the jump from things people say on the campaign to actually becoming government policy.

Christopher Luxon says that he doesn’t want to talk about race relations because he doesn’t want to focus on the negative.

That way of thinking is a cop out.

Race relations are only negative if what you bring to the table is negative.

I think when Māori thrive New Zealand thrives.

I think more kiwis learning te re Māori is good.

I think embracing and celebrating Maōri cultural identity is good.

Learning our history in schools is good.

And I think by Māori for Māori solutions work. National used to think that too.

In this election I’ve talked about how disappointing it’s been for National, ACT and New Zealand First to use race to divide us.

It’s a strategy that seeks to make New Zealanders believe if one part of society is getting something, then maybe others are missing out.

Cue the ‘special privileges narrative’,

Followed by a ‘one law for all” slogan,

Finishing with the good old call to ‘end race-based policies’.

Of course that couldn’t be further from the truth.

If Māori have special privileges why are health outcomes worse?

Why is Māori unemployment higher?

Educational achievement lower?

The last National leader to take this approach was Don Brash.

In 2005, I used to get incensed driving down the Hutt road and seeing those iwi/kiwi billboards.

I was outraged that a mainstream party would so blatantly seek to divide us.

But Don Brash didn’t win that election.

And in the closing days of this campaign my message to New Zealanders is let’s ensure Christopher Luxon doesn’t win either.

Because if Christopher Luxon wins, Maōri lose.

I’ve made a conscious decision this election to speak openly about race, because I actually think as a Government we could have done a better job at advocating the decisions we’ve made.

We have amazing Māori Minister’s who have made so much progress in the face of incredible odds.

But I don’t want the progress we make in race relations to be by accident, or advanced in silence.

I want to build real support for the more equitable country promised in Te Tiriti and which is the ongoing goal of Labour.

Our campaign slogan is ‘In it for you’ not ‘in it for some’. So, I’m going all in for everyone.

The same isn’t true of my opponents who plan to take $2,000 away from our most vulnerable children in low income households and give it to wealthy landlords.

They want to give 300 mega landlords a tax break of more than $1 million each.

Meanwhile those on the lowest incomes get the least.

That isn’t how we move forward together, we move forward by building trust in one another.

I believe that non-Māori have nothing to fear and everything to gain from Māori having more self-determination, better health outcomes, better education outcomes or co-governance arrangements.

I believe in honouring Te Tiriti.

I will speak out against racism.

And will continue to call out race-baiting that targets our Treaty partners.

Because here is a truth that Christopher Luxon, David Seymour and Winston Peters need to hear.

We will not always be the leaders of our parties.

We will not always hold seats inside Parliament.

We are temporary, but Māori, their place in Aotearoa is permanent.

They will remain tangata whenua long after we are all gone.

Not a single election campaign, a divisive slogan or a racist candidate will change that.

So instead of instead of stoking fear and appealing to the worst of us – how about we all commit to bringing out the best of us?

17 Māori leaders called on us to put an end to the use of race-baiting in election campaigns to win votes.

But not even their calls have stopped them in their tracks.

We already know Christopher Luxon will say anything to win votes this election – but what is he prepared to do to get the coalition of cuts across the line?

I’m not prepared to sit around a Cabinet with political parties whose candidates make openly racist comments about Māori in public forums.

I’ve ruled out working with Winston Peters – but Christopher Luxon won’t.

There’s no doubt in my mind those three leaders and their egos and their drive to sit at the head of the Cabinet table, will cause them to implode.

Unfortunately one of the few things they actually agree on is taking Māori backwards.

They want to do away with co-governance – despite the last National government building it into Treaty settlements;

They want the Māori health authority gone – despite it being the by Māori for Māori approach National used to support;

Māori representation on local boards – gone;

ACT is even trying to legislate Te Tiriti out of existence.

If they win, Māori lose.

Their common ground is you.

The future of our country cannot be built on the ruins of a people.

A country divided is not our future.

Because we are at our strongest when we are together.

When faced with challenges – pandemics, earthquakes and severe weather events, we look out for our neighbours,

In cyclone Gabrille is was marae who feed our communities.

We love our sport. We cheer on the All Blacks,

Chant ‘up the wahs’

We’re a country that proudly performs the haka at the local cosy club or on the tube in London.

We stand together –nuclear-free, against terrorism, against war and for peace.

If anyone ever sings the words Tutira mai nga iwi, we yell ‘Aue’ in unison.

This election – remember the things that make us who we are.

That make us great.

That make us proud.

We’ve beaten back before those who have tried to divide us.

We need to stand together again.

To our treaty partners, to iwi and hapū – to whānau here today I want to speak to you directly.

Teenaa koutou i to whakapono mai ki a maatou.

Ko taaku, me mau tonu ki taua whakapono.

Ka pukumahi tonu au, me aku hoa nei, hei painga māu, mā tātou

Thank you for trusting us to lead.

I ask you to trust us once more.

We will work hard to make you proud,

I’m in it for you

We have three more days to do something special, to rise up together to defend a better vision for Aotearoa’s future.

This election, and every election - let’s lead like our children are watching.

As Dame Whina said for how the children grow, so will be the shape of Aotearoa.

Let’s vote with our children’s future in mind.

Together, we can grow and shape a future they will be proud of.

Labour is seeing a late surge in support because voters can see what’s at stake.

So my message is this.

I’m in this for you, to stand with you and to partner with you.

Party vote Labour.

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