“Jacinda Ardern needs to drop her Government’s covert plan to redefine the Treaty and have an honest conversation with New Zealanders,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“This Government has unleashed an avalanche of race-based policies and giving Māori greater rights when it comes to conservation land could be the latest.

“The list of race-based policies is a long one: the Māori Health Authority, exempting some Māori land from rates, Māori wards, giving Māori greater rights under the RMA, and a government procurement quota for Māori businesses.

“The Options Development Group’s report, leaked to ACT last week, recommends ‘the delegation, transfer, and devolution of functions and powers within the conservation system to tangata whenua” and discusses giving iwi preferential access to concessions and permissions.

“Jacinda Ardern today told Parliament she hadn’t even read the ODG’s report. She then claimed that the principle of delegating power to tangata whenua had existed in the Conservation Act since 1987. What nonsense. The ODG is proposing to rewrite the Act to include such principles.

“New Zealanders should have equal access to the conservation estate.

“This Government is slowly but surely redefining our nation’s constitutional arrangements without talking to New Zealanders first.

“Ultimately, this is a question about what the Treaty really means. Does it mean that all New Zealanders are equal before the law? Or does it mean we are a partnership between two collectives, and our rights depend on who our grandparents are?

“ACT believes all New Zealanders should have equal rights and opportunities.

“This Government’s divisive policies will set New Zealanders against one another. It must stop exploiting our differences and focus on the common dignity of all New Zealanders.

“ACT exists to have honest conversations about difficult issues like this and to unite New Zealanders behind good ideas.”