Health Coalition Aotearoa (HCA) fully backs Ngātiwai Trust Board’s public appeal to Minister of Health Dr Shane Reti and the Honourable Winston Peters – members of the iwi – to halt the repeal of New Zealand’s life-saving Smokefree law.
The iwi’s public letter particularly appealed to Dr Reti as Minister of Health and a “senior member of the National Party”.
“… we know that you have influence, and we also know that you see the proposed repeal of the Smokefree Act as morally wrong, both as a doctor and as an uri of Ngātiwai.”
HCA commends the iwi for holding Dr Reti and Mr Peters to account as the Smokefree law will dramatically reduce smoking rates in Aotearoa and its repeal will cost thousands of lives.
HCA board member Grant Berghan, a Ngātiwai member and experienced public health advocate, said Reti, Peters – and associate Health Minister (tobacco regulation) Casey Costello who is also a Ngātiwai member – had brought shame and embarrassment to the iwi.
“The repeal is damaging to our whakapapa and, in accordance with te ao Māori, they will be held accountable for their actions by our people.”
Berghan said whakapapa is at the heart of the Māori world and to threaten it by putting Māori whānau at risk, was considered an extremely serious breach of iwi values.
Repealing the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Act (SERPA), which includes measures to reduce the prevalence and addictiveness of cigarettes, and create a smokefree generation, went beyond politics, Berghan said.
“Governments come and go but your whakapapa is forever.”
Berghan called on Reti, Peters and Costello to halt the repeal or “cross the floor” and vote according to what was in line with the values of Ngātiwai and te ao Māori.