“ACT is appealing to the Government to make openness and inclusion the non-negotiable condition for work on our country’s constitutional future,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Labour’s consultation on He Puapua is already dividing rather than uniting, asking only select Māori groups about our constitutional future. Closed door consultations on matters of national significance treat the majority of New Zealanders as outsiders.

“If the response to He Puapua is being designed by a process of exclusion, how will the Government ever get an outcome of inclusion?

“If Labour really cared about New Zealand being a modern multi-ethnic society, it would have consulted the modern multi-ethnic society that is right on its doorstep. But it doesn’t.

“Labour commissioned He Puapua, then tried to suppress it, until ACT unmasked it in Parliament. The Declaration Working Group asked the Māori Development Minister multiple times to release it. Now, on a Friday when the Prime Minister is out of the country, it tries to sneak one past the public.

“You have to wonder if there hasn’t been a palace coup by the Māori caucus intent on decolonising the Beehive.
 
“Today’s release also says something about the Government’s priorities. We’ve known for weeks that record inflation would be reported, and it was a 30 year record. Imagine if the Government released a response to record inflation today, but no. The day after it was revealed we have highest inflation in a generation, the Government’s priority is to divide the country up with exclusive consultation on our constitutional future.
 
“Liberal democracy matters. Every adult New Zealander gets one vote. Superficial characteristics like race, sex, sexuality and religion are not relevant to our rights. Being the first in the world to achieve that is New Zealand’s greatest political achievement.

“It’s vital that, if New Zealand is going to have a debate about its constitutional future, it is open to all. A debate about separatism being carried out for the few tells us all we need to know.

“The Government is taking the whole country on the path to being an ethno-state. As Professor Elizabeth Rata put it, ‘He Puapua envisages a system of constitutional categorisation based on ancestral membership criteria rather than the universal human who is democracy's foundational unit.’
 
“If there’s to be a constitutional conversation, everybody deserves to be part of it. This constitutional conversation is about excluding most New Zealanders from having full political rights, and the Government has started as it means to go on.”