David Seymour is ‘a political idiot’ for pushing treaty principles bill, says Tuku Morgan

Waikato-Tainui leader Tukoroirangi Morgan calls David Seymour “a political idiot” in the latest episode of 30 with Guyon Espiner.

Morgan, a former broadcaster and politician, describes the ACT Party leader’s Treaty Principles Bill as “nonsense”.

The bill proposes revisions to interpretations of all three treaty articles, which, among other changes, would limit Māori co-governance arrangements included in Waitangi Tribunal agreements.

“Here we have a political idiot, who is trying to modernize a document that will nullify the 1840 signature,” Morgan says.

“It is an attack on an agreement that was confidently enshrined by those Rangatira in 1840.”

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has said the government does not plan to support the treaty principles bill beyond the select committee stage, but will not rule it out entirely.

If the bill went beyond a first reading, Morgan says the resulting protest action would be at a level “never seen before in the history of this country.”

“There are those of us… who don’t just sit still and do nothing,” he says.

“If this bill passes and goes beyond first reading, it will be hell, simple as that.”

Morgan, who was one of the founding members of New Zealand First and president of Te Pati Māori from 2016 to 2017, told Guyon Espiner he was not interested in returning to central politics but as president of Waikato-Tainui he still had “many” political shots to fire.

“We are now an iwi that has economic power, almost $2.4 billion in assets.

“We are capable of doing what we have to do to protect what is ours and protect the future of our young people. Because, in the end, it is the young people we serve.”

The interview with Morgan was recorded earlier this year and is released today as episode eight of 30 with Guyon Espiner.

In episode 3, Seymour criticized policymakers “lazily categorizing people by race.” She has said the Treaty Principles Bill will give all New Zealanders “equal respect and dignity, including equality before the law”.

* 30 with Guyon Espiner is out every week on RNZ, Youtube, TVNZ+ and wherever you get your podcasts.

Tukoroirangi Morgan

Tukoroirangi Morgan
Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

‘An opportunity that attracts our people’

Morgan says last year’s election revealed “an emergence of young Māori who are much more articulate, much more visionary about where they want to go”.

“But unless our people get serious about politics, make the leap and return to the Māori role, we will always be spectators to the political process.”

The Māori list was established in 1867 to ensure that Māori could participate in the electoral process.

At that time, the right to vote was linked to ownership of land under individual title, which was practically non-existent in te ao Māori.

There are seven Māori electorates and each guarantees a seat in Parliament.

New Zealand citizens of Maori descent can choose to register on the general electoral register or the Maori electoral register.

“There is an opportunity that attracts our people: to move from the Pākehā style to the Māori style,” Morgan says.

The Māori electorates and general electorates are separate and each elects its own member of parliament.

According to the electoral commission, there are currently 291,825 voters registered on the Māori census.

“We will always be spectators and an act of support for the main party, unless we return to the Māori list and create more Māori seats as a result.”

Since the introduction of MMP, ethnic diversity in parliament has improved, with Māori representation now at almost 27 per cent.

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