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Māori Party promise to provide 'unapologetic Māori voice' in Parliament

The Māori Party's co-leaders delivered their maiden speeches in Parliament today - pledging to be the pebble in the shoe of those holding onto colonial ways and to be a change agent for the recognition of Māori.

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Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer made their opening speeches in Parliament. Source: 1 NEWS

"I will ensure our unapologetic Māori voice will be heard and that our Māori cloak is felt and is present in every piece of legislation and bill passed in this House," Rawiri Waititi told the House. 

"You know what it feels like to have a pebble in your shoe?

"That will be my job here. A constant, annoying to those holding onto the colonial ways, a reminder and change agent for the recognition of our kahu Māori."

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The new MPs challenged what they call parliament's outdated institution in their maiden speeches. Source: 1 NEWS

He said it was time for the Crown to honour its Treaty obligation and partnership. 

Waititi referenced Stuff.co.nz's apology for the racist portrayal of Māori, for its "mono cultural view point that had sought to oppress tangata whenua" and for the negative narrative that reinforced and kept "our people at the bottom of the heap". 

"They have said sorry to Māori for aiding and abetting the system of racism that strips us of our spirit and our oranga, but they have taken responsibility for their failings. 

"When will the Crown do the same? When will the Crown own its failings and commit to doing better?" he asked.

"I refuse to let my tamariki or my mokopuna to one day sit in the same seat and ask the same question. We will no longer accept this approach as it allows the state to continue to feast on the dysfunction it has created amongst our people."

He said they would also no longer allow the state to fund itself "to steal more of our babies, adjust the system to lock out more of our people, a welfare system that keeps our people dependent and poor".

Rawiri Waititi. Source: Getty

"An education system that keeps my people dumb, a health system that keeps my people sick and a housing system that keeps my people homeless."

"This has to stop. It is time for Māori to look after Māori as we know what is best for us." 

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer began her speech calling the past decisions and actions of Parliament "unforgivable". 

"I stand here as a descendant of a people who survived a holocaust, a genocide, sponsored by this House and Members of Parliament whose portraits still hang from the walls," she said. 

"Members of this Parliament who sought our extermination and created legislation to achieve it.

"They confiscated all our whenua, imprisoned us without trial and murdered and raped our women and children and deliberately engineered our displacement for generations. 

"Fortunately their one generational plan was outlived by our forever generational resolve. Such is the strength of my whakapapa. The trauma of what they did to us still lives with us."

At the end of Ngarewa-Packer's speech, Poi E rang out from her supporters in the the public gallery.