Are there cracks in the coalition? Disagreement with NZ First forced Labour to abandon announcing details of Crown-Māori Relations portfolio

Cracks are appearing in the coalition Government with the the big influence of Winston Peters putting heat on the Prime Minister and hampering policy announcements and the passing of legislation.

1 NEWS understands disagreements within the coalition forced Labour to abandon announcing detail of its Crown-Māori Relations portfolio earlier this week.

Monday's cabinet meeting was a chance for the Government to lay out the detail of its new Crown-Māori portfolio, but in an unusual twist the information didn't follow.

"I'm not going to pre-announce cabinet papers," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said after the meeting.

1 NEWS now understands it was due to New Zealand First and Labour disagreeing over the detail in cabinet, postponing the announcement

In Parliament today, National's Gerry Brownlee said New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters "still hasn't stopped acting as prime minister. He is the veto on everything this Government does".

Mr Peters was unwilling to answer questions about the matter today.

Asked by 1 NEWS if New Zealand First veted the establishment of an agency for the Crown-Maori portfolio in the Ministry of Justice, he replied: "Well look I can't answer that question 'cause I don't have any recall of that."

"Send me a written question, I'll give you an answer because I'm not going to do it off the top of my head. I don't have a very present recall of that."

Asked why he can't recall given that cabinet was only held on Monday, Mr Peters said: "Well because I want to know the exact detail on that before I answer the question."

But NZ First minister Shane Jones didn't hide his contempt just yesterday, telling reporters: "[We] need to be realistic about what we can achieve in the next 24 months."

During Question Time today, National leader Simon Bridges asked the Prime Minister: "Can we no longer believe ministerial press statements unless they're signed off by Mr Peters?"

Ms Ardern replied: "No, ridiculous."

It is the latest issue in a string of disagreements.

Labour was set to repeal the three strikes law but was forced by NZ First to back down.

Then there's the refugee quota. Labour is keen to double it, but NZ First is in no hurry. 

And recently there's been disagreement on employment law, including whether to scrap the youth pay rate.

Asked recently on TVNZ1's Q+A if Labour can't get rid of the youth pay rate because NZ First won't agree, Employment Minister Willie Jackson said: "We agree to disagree sometimes."

Mr Bridges said today he thinks "people are talking about the tail wagging the dog for the first time right now in this Government".

Ms Ardern said: "We debate a number of issues, this is one of many, and we have good robust processes for each."

The Prime Minister was sticking to her mantra today, saying in the House: "All other policies go through a cabinet process."

It's a Cabinet process that's not always straight forward with a coalition government.

The influence of Winston Peters is also believed to be putting the Prime Minister under pressure from rival MPs. Source: 1 NEWS



National's Gerry Brownlee accused of 'phone bullying' after conversation with junior staff member at law firm

Allegations of phone bullying are being levelled at National MP Gerry Brownlee after a conversation he had with a junior staff member about a steel mesh class action.

However, the MP for Ilam in Christchurch strongly denies what he calls "outrageous accusations".

Mr Brownlee says he was just doing his job raising questions about the class action with a law firm, prompted by a letter placed in the mailboxes of his constituents.

Adina Thorn says a junior staff member at her firm was left so upset by Mr Brownlee’s 17 minute phone call that she had to go home.

"My office received a telephone call from a gentleman who didn't provide a name but then proceeded to ask a copious number of questions was aggressive, bordering on irrational and showed no respect for the steel mesh victims in the debacle," Ms Thorn said.

Ms Thorn said at the end of the call the man identified himself as National MP Gerry Brownlee.

Mr Brownlee’s version of events is in stark contrast to the account.

"I wasn't angry, and I wasn't aggressive. I represent a constituency where there's been a lot of new houses built in the period that they're talking about and I was actually worried about people receiving a letter that could create quite a bit of alarm for them," Mr Brownlee told 1 NEWS.

His call was prompted by a letter encouraging owners of new Christchurch builds to allow the law firm to investigate if they have non-compliant steel in their homes, after three mesh companies were found guilty of selling the product.

The law firm used a public relations company to complain to National leader Simon Bridges' office about the call and are awaiting a response.

The National MP for Ilam strongly denies what he calls “outrageous accusations”, saying he was just doing his job. Source: 1 NEWS

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Man with Down syndrome appeals to MPs, wants early access to KiwiSaver to visit brother and best friend overseas

"I want to do more", Tim Fairhall, a 39-year-old man who has Down syndrome, told MPs as he appealed for access to his KiwiSaver funds before age 65. 

He spoke to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee about his goal to visit his brother and friend overseas while he was still in good health.

"I won't live as long as most people," Mr Fairhall said. "It doesn't matter how long you live, as long as you make the most of your life."

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

Tim Fairhall had been working at Countdown for 14 years, and recently starred in a video made by the Retirement Commissioner's office to champion his case for early access to his KiwiSaver funds.

The money Mr Fairhall needs to travel with his mother is locked up in KiwiSaver until he turns 65, but Down syndrome means he is ageing faster than most.

He said his goal was to see his brother in Italy and his best friend in Canada.

"I have saved my money to do that.

"I have done lots of cool things in my life so far, and I want to do more."

His mother, Joan Fairhall, said her son and other people with Down syndrome had their savings "trapped" if it was invested with KiwiSaver.

"I want you do consider whether the current legislation is unfair and indeed discriminatory, whether it kidnaps and holds on to, and uses the savings of people in this category, but there is just no mechanism for them to get it out and use it fairly for themselves."

Tim Fairhall and his mum argue the rules as they stand discriminate against people like him. Source: 1 NEWS

She said previously, "If Tim survives till he's 65, and it's quite likely he will, he'll be a really old man then - the equivalent of about 90". 

For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6. 

Tim Fairhall wants to use his savings to travel while he is still in good health. Source: 1 NEWS


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Te reo not main priority for Māori trying to survive in regions - educator

Learning Te Reo Māori isn't the main priority for many Māori in Northland because they're too busy trying to survive, a Ngāpuhi educator says.

Evelyn Tobin is a strong advocate of Ngā Puhi reo and dialect but has seen the strength of Te Reo Māori in Northland diminish in recent years.

There are now fourth generation urban Māori who had lost connection to their homelands and marae, Ms Tobin said.

Ms Tobin believes there has been a passionate response by urban Māori to learn te reo.

But for many Māori in Northland, economic hardship may be preventing them taking up learning their own language, she said.

Ms Tobin highlights lack of employment, over-representation in social services and the building of a brand new prison in Ngāwha.

"My particular passion and commitment is in te reo - for many families there's a higher priority and it may be in fact as simple as to put bread and butter on their children's table at night."

Te Panekeritanga Māori school of Māori language excellence founder Sir Tīmoti Karetu said middle class educated Māori were another key group driving Te Reo Māori revitalisation.

"Part of ourselves is becoming a very middle class person of language - because it's the educators who are pushing out the boat.

"They also have the luxury of time and the economic luxury to indulge - the urban areas I think are much much stronger in their fight for the language than rural areas."

Mr Karetu said he never thought there would be a day where speaking te reo would be such a struggle.

"Because when I was younger you never heard English very much in the whole of the Tūhoe area."

- By John Boynton, Te Manu Korihi reporter

rnz.co.nz


Māori educator Evelyn Tobin Source: rnz.co.nz


Kiwi cartoonist defends Aussie colleague over Serena Williams depiction - 'There's not a chance he would even contemplate doing a racist cartoon'

New Zealand Herald’s cartoonist Rod Emmerson has defended Australian cartoonist Mark Knight after his depiction of Serena Williams was labelled as ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’.

“There is not a chance he would even contemplate doing a racist cartoon,” he told 1 NEWS today.

The image made headlines around the world and has caused controversy in the US with commentators saying it is an example of Australia’s "blind racism".

He says it has been blown out of proportion.

“I think people are trying to find something that is not there.”

But he says Mr Knight should have "understood the repercussions" of his image.

“We’ve got to be very careful before we put pen to paper.”

The cartoon comes after tennis star Serena Williams made several outbursts to the umpire at the US Open final.

Emmerson says Knight is “ … very big on sportsmanship and doesn’t like people throwing ‘wobblies’.”

This dominated the 6-2 6-4 final win by Naomi Osaka at Flushing Meadows on Saturday.

Mark Knight is in hot water after his depiction of Serena Williams was labelled ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’. Source: 1 NEWS


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