'Opportunists will stir division, but emerging generation want Treaty justice for Māori'

By Te Ao with MOANA
Treaty Minister Andrew Little says a "growing chunk" of New Zealanders have a better understanding of the country's history and want Treaty justice for Māori.  Photo/File.

There are opportunists eager to create division by claiming treaty settlements are giving Māori an unfair advantage, however, there is a growing population who have a better understanding and do want to right the wrongs of the past, Treaty Minister Andrew Little says.

Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little told Te Ao with Moana that there is a section of the New Zealand public who support the view that Māori are benefitting at their expense under the treaty settlement process.

“In the type of democracy that we’ve got, we know that there are people, opportunists, who will come in and stir things up. You know, that’s what 2004 was about with Don Brash," Minister Little said. 

"There is an audience for those who say, 'look, you know, Māori are getting all this advantage, you know, can’t we all be treated equally and fairly?' There is still an audience for that, so you’ve got to manage that."

The comments were made during the second of two Te Tiriti o Waitangi specials broadcast on Māori Television at 8.00pm on August 20th and 27th.

Despite, such views, Minister Little says there are growing numbers of New Zealanders who want to right the injustices experienced by Māori.

"But I think there is a growing chunk of the population, certainly an emerging generation, who do have a better understanding," he said. 

"I think we are still a long way behind, about truly understanding our history... But I think there is a generation emerging that has a natural curiosity, that not only wants to know and understand but wants to be part of the next long journey of putting it right."

"So, that at some point in the future, hopefully sooner rather than later, we can say we are as close as possible, we can get to the treaty partnership that was at least talked about in 1840.”

Minister Little was a panellist, with Ngāti Kahungunu iwi leader Ngahiwi Tomoana and legal expert Professor Jane Kelsey, on Te Ao with Moana.

WATCH the second of our two specials episodes on Te Tiriti o Waitangi here.

Part 1 - How just do you think treaty settlements are?

Part 2 - How hard is it to progress treaty settlements in a coalition government?

Part 3 - Has the fisheries settlement made a difference at the grassroots level?