New Zealanders protest 'anti-Maori' government policies
Thursday, May 30, 2024       13:47 WIB

Wellington, May 30, 2024 (AFP)
Thousands took to the streets to protest New Zealand's centre-right government and its policies toward the Indigenous Maori population Thursday.
Demonstrators turned out in Auckland, Wellington and other cities, accusing Prime Minister Christopher Luxon's government of undermining long-standing legal protections.
Luxon's administration has floated plans to switch the names of some departments from Maori to English and to shutter Te Aka Whai Ora, the Maori health authority.
The government is also mulling a review of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, an agreement between British colonial powers and Maori chiefs which protects Indigenous rights.
Primary school teacher Odessa Stewart, originally from the Rongowhakaata iwi (tribe), told AFP she was protesting to protect the future of her three children.
She said New Zealand's one-million-strong Maori population feels threatened.
"Change needs to happen. Hopefully, the government hears us and upholds the Treaty," Steward added.
Luxon was elected last October. Te Pati Maori (the Maori Party) organised the rallies to coincide with the presentation of his administration's first budget.
"We have to take a stand against all these anti-Maori policies implemented by this government," Te Pati Maori said in a statement.
"We must also take a stand against all the policies that will destroy the whenua (land) that our mokopuna (future generations) will inherit."
Lunchtime traffic was brought to a halt in central Wellington where the streets were packed with protestors, many waving the red-and-black Maori flag and singing the song 'Tutira Mai Nga Iwi', which calls for unity.
"This is just reflective of the movement against the government and the policies they have been implementing," opposition Labour lawmaker Carmel Sepuloni told AFP at the rally.
"They have kicked the hornet's nest. This was supposed to be the government's day -- budget day -- that has been hijacked as a direct result of the things they have done."
The Prime Minister's Office was unavailable for comment, but on the eve of the protests Luxon said he hoped they would be "legal and peaceable and lawful".

Sumber : AFP

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