‘Momentous’: Ardern issues historic Maori apology and $155m in redress
“We lost our country. We lost our language. We lost our identity and that has created inequalities and disparities for our people ever since,” she told TVNZ.
“We have clear ambitions to ensure that we return to who we were. We were entrepreneurs. We exported abroad. We flourished.”
Ardern acknowledged that the then government was responsible for “devastating longstanding prejudice”.
“As a result, you hapu and whanau [families] have experienced significant socioeconomic deprivation and lived in worse conditions than non-Maori. You were prevented from reaching your full social and economic potential and had to fight to maintain your Maniapoto identity and language.
The Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and hundreds of Maori chiefs, is regarded as the foundational document of NZ.
Misunderstandings about its meaning and translation continue to haunt attempts at reconciliation and Maori full participation in modern life.
Since 1975 – when the Waitangi Tribunal was established – governments of all political persuasions have sought treaty settlements to rectify these wrongdoings, signing dozens of settlements and apologies.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little said he wanted the apology to “lay the groundwork for a new partnership to ensure the future well-being and prosperity of Maniapoto”.
“When Maniapoto rangatira [Maori chiefs] signed the treaty in 1840, they expected to build a partnership with the Crown,” he said.
“More than a century after that, the Crown repeatedly broke the promises it had made, leading to devastating loss of life and land, and social and economic hardship.”
The apology followed a two-day celebration of a new “whare tupuna” [ancestral house] built in Te Kuiti.
Meanwhile, the last major public poll of 2022 has underlined the tough task ahead of Ardern’s Labor Party to win a third term in next year’s election.
A TVNZ-Kantar poll released on Monday confirms the predominance of opposition National party, with 38 per cent support to Labour’s 33 per cent.
If those figures are repeated in the 2023 election, National would rule with a majority in a coalition with the right-wing ACT party, which took 11 percent of the vote.
Citing the rising cost of living and inflation, Ardern told TVNZ that there is “no doubt it’s a tough time to be in government”.
“It’s our job to break through because we have the privilege to rule, and that’s what we do,” she said.
The numbers are a stark contrast to where Ardern and Labor finished last year, with a lead of 41 to 28 over the centre-right National.
National has led Labor in the last six polls published by broadcasters, TVNZ and Three.
A big difference is opposition leader Chris Luxon, who took over 12 months ago, which coincides with the start of massive support from National.
The former Air New Zealand CEO posted his best-ever personal support in the TVNZ poll at 23 percent.
While Ardern continues to lead the way, she clocked her worst result of 29 percent.