The right-wing coalition has pledged to review the funding measures and remove references to a treaty with the Maori people.

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in New Zealand to express their opposition to the new government’s policies towards the indigenous population.

Protesters gathered outside Parliament and on highways on Tuesday after the small Te Pati Maori party called for nationwide demonstrations against the newly elected right-wing government.

The protests coincided with the opening session of New Zealand’s 54th Parliament, following an October election that ended the center-left Labor Party’s six-year reign.

In breach of protocol, Te Pati Maori, who hold six seats in Parliament, swore oaths of allegiance to the coming generation and the Treaty of Waitangi, a founding document between the British and the colonial-era Maori people, before pledging allegiance to King Charles.

The new National Party-led coalition has committed to reviewing positive discrimination policies, changing the names of some government departments from Maori to English and stripping legislation of references to Treaty of Waitangi principles.

“This is not a protest, this is an activation,” Te Pati Maori co-chair Rawiri Waititi told protesters in Wellington.

“Make your voices heard, let our voices fly and be proud of who we are today.”

New Zealand police said two people involved in the demonstrations were arrested and there were traffic disruptions in several cities, including the largest city, Auckland.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon, who is in coalition with the libertarian ACT New Zealand and the populist New Zealand First, called protesters’ criticism of his government “pretty unfair.”

“The reality is that we have been in government for a week,” he reportedly said. “We will do things for Maori and non-Maori.”

ACT New Zealand leader David Seymour accused Te Pati Maori of being more interested in “divisive theatrics” than providing solutions for Indigenous people.

“New Zealanders have elected a government that treats people equally regardless of race,” Seymour said in a post on X.

Source : www.aljazeera.com

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