Rawiri Waititi made a point of order in Parliament today wondering “why two Pākehā women are talking about Māori issues" as Judith Collins questioned Jacinda Ardern about freshwater rights.
In Question Time today, the Māori Party co-leader said Ardern and Collins should be speaking to “Māori themselves, there’s a room full of us”.
Speaker Trevor Mallard didn’t rule the Prime Minister or Opposition leader should address his question.
“The one thing I am not going to take responsibility for is the Member’s wondering,” Mallard said to Waititi.
Waititi’s point of order came after Collins asked Ardern, “When is she going to tell the rest of the public exactly what is the commitment she made to the Labour Māori caucus and the collective referred to in her Government’s Cabinet paper on the meeting around freshwater and resource management control?”
Ardern answered saying issues surrounding freshwater have been going on for many years and the Labour Government is committed to “working together” to solve it.
“I say publicly what I say privately,” Ardern finished her response.
That’s when Waititi rose to make his point of order.
“I’m wondering why two Pākehā women are talking about Māori issues and not talking to Māori themselves, there’s a room full of us.”
The debate comes as Ngāti Kahungunu announced in February this year it will join forces with Ngāi Tahu to take legal action against the Crown over shared control and management of freshwater.
South Island iwi Ngāi Tahu also lodged a statement of claim in the High Court in Christchurch at the end of last year, seeking recognition of its rangatiratanga over freshwater in the takiwā.
Speaking to media at the time, Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment David Parker said he welcomed the legal action.
"We are, of course, in a separate process involving Māoridom in our attempts to address water allocation," he said.
Parker said the Government was planning to focus on water allocation issues this year after spending last term focused on improving water quality.
The Government was already liaising with iwi, council and agricultural groups over the issues, he said.