The Māori Party has saved two positions within the Human Rights Commission from being disestablished and merged into one role.
It successfully argued for statutory recognition of the roles of the Race Relations Commissioner and Equal Opportunities Commissioner.
The Human Rights Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament on Thursday that intended to disband the roles of Race Relations and Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioners. The responsibilities of these two roles were intended to be shared among other Commissioners.
You only need to look at the comments made by Mike Hosking regarding Māori wards in the past week to know that these distinct positions are necessary, Māori Party co-Leader Te Ururoa Flavell said.
“These roles make strong contributions to enable a more equitable and balanced society, and we will continue to promote their importance,” he said.
Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said the recent publication by right wing blogger Cameron Slater of a severely racist cartoon is another strong example of why we need these important roles.
She said using the issue of child abuse to convey racist commentary is both repulsive and hateful.
“Child abuse is a whole of population issue that affects people of all backgrounds.
“We've seen and experienced racism. We've seen it highly prejudiced areas. So when we heard the Minister wanted to merge these roles we opposed it,” she said.
A former advisor to the Human Rights Commission, Bobby Newson (Ngāpuhi), applauded the Māori Party's intervention.
“I support the Māori Party and what they have said in support of those two roles. They shouldn't be touched. Both of those roles need to remain separate.”
The Māori Party urged Justice Minister Amy Adams to continue these roles in the new structure of the Human Rights Commission.
“Yes, Amy has agreed. It was debated over six months for this to be successful in stopping the merger of the roles. The Equal Employment Opportunities and Disabilities roles need to be left unmerged as well,” Ms Fox said.
With racism being a topic of major discussion this week Marama Fox wanted the world to know that racial discrimination still exists in New Zealand.
“Racism and prejudice should receive world attention. All prejudiced people are doing is hurting our own. We need to collaborate, we need to honour the treaty. We as Māori need to say to racists - we don't agree with this, stop it. If not, we will force you to.”