The creation of the Crown/Māori Relations portfolio shows the Government’s commitment to a strong, ongoing and healthy relationship with Māori, that allows the Crown and Māori to work together better on matters of mutual interest.
The Crown/Māori relationship is rapidly evolving and maturing, particularly as many Māori groups move in to a post-Treaty settlement era. The creation of the portfolio is an opportunity to build on this foundation by focusing on the health of the relationship and the contribution it can make to a positive and successful future for Māori and Aotearoa.
As we approach the last remaining historical Treaty settlements it makes sense for us to be asking what the future Crown/Māori relationship should be. We need to develop a true and practical partnership that exists beyond the negotiating table.
And we need to improve outcomes for Māori. To do this it’s vital that the Crown/Māori relationship is strong.
Saying “the Crown/Māori relationship” is a simple way of talking about the multiple relationships where different parts of the Crown (e.g. Ministers and agencies) engage with Māori (as whānau, hapū, iwi, Māori organisations or other interest/sector groups) on a broad range of issues important to Māori.
It means Māori who have a relationship with the Crown – which is all Māori. It includes whānau, hapū, iwi, Māori communities and Māori national or regional or local interest, including groups or organisations or collectives including pan-Māori organisations.
The Crown basically means the government – it’s made up of Ministers of the Crown and public service departments. Crown entities and local government are not the Crown.
The regularity and quality of Crown/Māori relationships varies across public sector agencies.
Existing engagements and relationships will continue, but an initial priority for the portfolio could be to develop a new relationship framework that will guide Ministers and the public sector.
Existing engagements and relationships that already work well could be used to inform improvements, and support agencies, in other areas of the Crown/Māori relationship.
At a broad level, the portfolio is responsible for the health of the Crown/Māori relationship. Avoiding breakdowns in the Crown/Māori relationship, because it’s operating better, will be one sign of success.
The Minister is interested in hearing thoughts on how we could measure the health of the relationship.
The Crown/Māori relationship is a two-way relationship. Too often in the past the Crown has told Māori what the relationship will be. This is not the best way for the Crown/Māori relationship to operate.
It’s important that the Minister for Crown/Māori Relations discusses his initial ideas, and whether or not they are the right ones to focus on, with Māori and more generally New Zealanders.