New Zealand Māori protesters delay traffic decrying new government budget News
© WikiMedia (Ulrich Lange)
New Zealand Māori protesters delay traffic decrying new government budget

New Zealand’s Indigenous protesters on Thursday caused severe traffic delays in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. The opposition party Te Pati Māori and Indigenous activist groups initiated the protest against the government’s proposed budget, allegedly compromising the country’s ability to protect Indigenous rights.

The government announced their new budget plan on Thursday, making significant cuts to Māori resources in areas such as the disestablishment of Te Aka Whai Ora (the Māori Health Authority) and funding for Māori housing. In a press release from the Green Party Teanau Tuiono, the spokesperson for Pacific peoples, stated “I can summarise this Budget in one word: pathetic.”

Te Pati Māori, therefore, spearheaded the protest with an Indigenous group, Toitū Te Tiriti (Honour the Treaty). They called for Māori people to go on strike for the day and “disconnect” themselves from the economy on social media. The group added that they intend is to “demonstrate the beginning of a unified Aotearoa response to the Government’s assault on tangata whenua and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.” Previously, Te Pati Māori have also expressed concerns over several policies implemented by the recently elected government in October, including how they will affect the Māori population, their rights under the nation’s foundation document, Te Tiriti O Waitangi, and attempts to redress the wrongs of colonisation.

On the other hand,  New Zealand’s prime minister Christopher Luxon expressed his resistance to the protests, stating it would be illegal for Māori and non-Māori allies to boycott work in support of Indigenous rights. Condemning the “unlawful protest” action, Police Minister Mark Mitchell also said, “My expectations are that law-abiding Kiwis going about their daily business, their rights are protected above those who choose to break the law.”

Deputy Leader of New Zealand First Shane Jones told local media source NewsHub that asking whānau (family) to go on strike for a day was “mad” and that the strategy by Te Pāti Māori and Toitū Te Tiriti looked like a Black Lives Matter campaign, stating “not many of our whānau can afford to give up $200-$300 to take a day’s strike.”

New Zealand Transport Agency wrote on X that the traffic and delays from the protests have since cleared.