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Protest keeps it peaceful

Hundreds of protesters gathered in the Masterton town square yesterday for a “peaceful” rally initiated by Te Pāti Māori [TPM] to coincide with the Budget announcement in Wellington.

TPM urged those who agreed that the government had made an “assault on Tangata Whenua and Te Tiriti o Waitangi” and were devising “anti-Māori” policies
to take a nationwide stand.

Wairarapa protest organiser Aperahama Matenga categorised the rally as a “mokopuna-friendly” peaceful activation time to kōrero [discuss] about “threats against the treaty”.

“I thought it was just going to be the normal half a dozen of us. It blew my mind when I came around the corner,” he said.

“I’ve been told this is not going to be the last, and I am sure you will hear more.”

Sophronia Smith said she was there to oppose the repealing of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 under section 7AA, which she believed undermined Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“I am a social worker and a practice leader for Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa,” she said.

“We work directly in the space with Oranga Tamariki, so it affects us and the Tamariki, of whom we are the katiaki.”

She said the lunchtime activation allowed students from Kura Kaupapa Māori o Wairarapa to take part, and some whānau had taken the day off work to go on a full strike.

Bruce Pauling, a Wairarapa “born and bred” pākehā man with a “wahine toa proud Māori wife,” said he was there to support the kōrero regarding government actions of “denigrating” and “trivialising Māori” and “attacking reo”.

“I feel it’s disgusting,” he said.

“We’ve got all the other bills that have been put through parliament, which is undermining any progress made toward recognition and upholding the principals of Te Tiriti,” he said.

Reon Te Maari-Kerr, who organised a Wairarapa hīkoi in December, said the rally was about airing frustrations over the government’s “negative impacts on Māori culture, whenua, and all New Zealanders”.

The rally yesterday included speeches and waiata.

Mike Butterick, Wairarapa MP, said it was “Kiwi culture” for people to gather to express and listen to the opinions of others.

“Any group is free to protest as long as their actions are peaceful and lawful.”

Butterick, who was at parliament for the Budget, said, “Many New Zealanders, including Māori, will be interested in how the Budget will help them and their families.”

“I believe delivering a responsible budget will support New Zealanders with the cost of living and boost essential frontline services.”

Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty said everyone had the right to protest.

“As long as it’s peaceful and doesn’t interrupt others going about their day, it’s all good in my book.”

“The Prime minister can’t have it both ways – he encouraged the Groundswell protests but has packed a sad over this one. This Government has made some choices that are hurting a lot of people, so it’s no surprise some wish to push back.”

Green Party list MP Celia Wade-Brown said her party supported whānau wanting to express anger at the Government for being “anti-Māori”.

“It’s up to whānau to decide how they participate,” she said.

Last year, thousands of people responded to the first Māori Action Day, which was organised by Te Pāti Māori and held in main centres and rural communities.


  1. The Maori Party does nothing but complain, and is constantly perpetuating a fantasy that Maori never ceded sovereignty (when that it what the Treaty actually says). While this rally may have been peaceful, people within the party are shouting “revolution” and apparently proclaiming that they can “overthrow the government” anytime they like. This is unhelpful in the extreme. Do us all a favour, and stop giving them coverage.

  2. Stop being a leftist paper 📃 😤 all you ARE DOING IS STIRRING UP RACIALISM. There is talk of starting up A Maori Government is that your new HEADLINE?. PLEASE STOP TEARING 😢 😭 🤧 THE COUNTRY APART.

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