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Goff Spells Out Labour's Record At Ratana

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phil Goff
Phil Goff

By Grant Fleming of NZPA

Ratana, Jan 23 NZPA - Labour leader Phil Goff has used the annual political pilgrimage to Ratana to spell out his party's record for Maori and question the Government's ability to deliver on its promises.

Mr Goff and about 20 MPs, including deputy Annette King and former Treaty Negotiations Minister Michael Cullen, were led on to the marae at Ratana Pa near Wanganui this morning.

Political leaders descend on Ratana every January as part of three days of celebrations marking the birth of the founder of the religious movement, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

Labour had a 70-year relationship with the Ratana movement and when in government had delivered good outcomes for Maori, Mr Goff said today.

They included more than halving Maori unemployment from 18 percent to less than 8 percent, an almost doubling of the minimum wage and strengthened housing, health and education services.

It had also advanced the Treaty of Waitangi settlements process.

He contrasted that against National's record.

"Labour has not vacillated on the right of Maori people to representation through the Maori seats. We have consistently supported those rights," he said in a speech on the marae.

"We have never exploited race as a means to win votes."

He said the new National Government had "promised much", but was yet to deliver.

But before Mr Goff spoke, he received some stern words from Rata speaker Ruia Aperahama, who said that in doing a deal with the Maori Party, National had given Maori something Labour had failed to do in 80 years.

Mr Goff said Labour and Ratana were natural partners and should continue to work together.

Prime Minister John Key and a delegation of 26 other National MPs are due to be led on to the marae about 1.30pm.

Mr Key will be led on to the marae by Maori Party co-leader and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples.

Mr Key this week said the strong contingent, including several senior ministers, would show the Government's commitment to improving the well-being of Maori.

"We want to work hard to achieve a better future for Maori New Zealanders and I'll be talking about those issues and the commitments we're making on the marae."

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