Tēnā koutou katoa, 

This Government is attacking Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This is an attack on all of us and what makes us unique as a country. Recognising the deep interconnections between health, Te Tiriti justice, and environmental sustainability, we’re uniting to condemn these attacks. Te Tiriti is the essential basis for structuring relationships in all aspects of life in Aotearoa, including the economy. Respecting Te Tiriti is a  foundation for good health and environmental sustainability; dishonouring Te Tiriti is a way to entrench health inequities and environmental degradation. 

We specifically reject the following actions and proposals:

  • Attempts to “redefine” Te Tiriti o Waitangi or Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles by Parliament or referendum
  • The repeal of general Te Tiriti clauses in legislation, and the decision to stop including these clauses in new pieces of legislation. These clauses are designed to reflect the Crown’s Te Tiriti commitments in law and give direction to judicial considerations.
  • The review of the Waitangi Tribunal and potential reform, which could undermine the ability of tangata whenua to hold the Crown to account for historical and contemporary breaches of Te Tiriti. 
  • The repeal of the Natural and Built Environment Act, which strengthened tangata whenua partnership in environmental decision-making, with improved environmental health outcomes for all.
  •  The proposed Fast-track Approvals legislation, which will over-ride existing RMA processes (and other protections, including under the Wildlife Act) for iwi, hapū and communities over environmentally destructive developments in their region, particularly on land that is not included in Treaty settlements.  Instead, it puts decisions in the hands of Ministers, who may decide not to consider those directly affected. This is an attack on Article 2 of Te Tiriti, as well as on all our rights to participate in decisions which affect us.
  • The repeal of the Three Waters legislation, which would have placed tangata whenua expertise at the table of regional water decisions to improve environmental and health outcomes. The repeal means greater risks to safe drinking water, a fundamental basis for health, as well as threats to the restoration and protection of rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers.
  • The attacks on te reo Māori, which expresses the profound connection of tangata whenua to Te Taiao. Changing public service department names and their reports has given rise to more general anti-te reo Māori abuse in schools and wider society. Te reo Māori is at the core of mātauranga Māori which holds vital keys to the environmental problems facing us.
  • Reversing the ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration permits, which will bring direct harm to the moana (ocean) and people, as well as lock us into further decades of fossil fuel emissions that are driving climate chaos.
  • The repeal of the fair pay agreements, which allowed unions to negotiate industry-wide deals for pay and conditions. This is critical for a just transition for workers in climate-affected and carbon-polluting industries, for whom climate justice requires re-training and sometimes new employment.
  • The repeal of the Spatial Planning Act, the reversal of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development, and backtracking on public and active transport investments. This will further lock in sprawling, un-regulated housing development and car dependence, driving up climate pollution while worsening the housing and transport affordability crises. These crises already underpin unjust access, health and social outcomes for Māori, breaching Article 3 of Te Tiriti, and making low-income households more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
  • The replacement of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater, where Te Mana o Te Wai provided clear direction that put healthy water and healthy people before corporate profit, and provided the most significant protection of drinking water sources against contamination and waterborne illness.
  • The abolition of Te Aka Whai Ora, which is a further breach of te Tiriti. Te Tiriti-based action on health equity includes a Māori-designed and centred, holistic and preventative focus, which saves lives, improves health equity, and reduces the environmental and financial costs of the health system.

As the undersigned, we call on Parliament to fulfil their collective duty to stand up and protect Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Te Taiao. We can do better than this, by supporting Matike Mai,  a constitutional transformation based on Te Tiriti, and by protecting Papatūanūku.

350 Aotearoa
OraTaiao: NZ Climate & Health Council
Peace Movement Aotearoa
Parents for Climate Aotearoa
Aotearoa New Zealand Human Rights Foundation
Choose Clean Water
Climate Club
A Rocha Aotearoa New Zealand
Ngā Ringa o Te Auaunga – Friends of Oakley Creek
Pax Christi
Presentation Sisters Aotearoa New Zealand
Generation Zero
The Methodist Informal Tiriti Honouring Network
Tangata Tiriti Aotearoa
Mauri o te Moana
Oil Change International
Go Eco
Common Grace Aotearoa
Zero Waste Network Aotearoa
Coal Action Network Aotearoa
WWF-New Zealand
Climate Justice Taranaki
The Basket Hauraki
Migrants Against the Acceptable Standard of Health Aotearoa
Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki
System Change Aotearoa

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This letter was published as an ad in the New Zealand Herald on 16.04.2024.