Demonstrators are protesting against the government's “anti-Maori” policies.

Demonstrators are protesting against the government's “anti-Maori” policies.

Thousands of people demonstrated in New Zealand on Thursday in protest against the centre-right government, which is accused of undermining well-established legal protections for the indigenous Maori population. Rallies were held in Auckland, Wellington and other cities across the country on the same day the government, in power since November, presented its first draft budget. “We must take a stand against all anti-Māori actions implemented by this government.”Te Pati Māori (Māori Party) was the organizer of these demonstrations, announced in a press release.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon's National Party-led coalition plans to rename some services from Māori to English and close Te Aka wai Ora, the Māori health authority. The government is also considering reviewing the Treaty of Waitangi, concluded in 1840 between British colonial authorities and Maori chiefs. This agreement recognized British colonialism but guaranteed Maori tenure over their land. Indigenous people now represent 17% of the population.

By midday, traffic had stopped in the center of the capital, Wellington. The streets were filled with protesters, many of whom waved the Maori flag and sang “Totera mai nga iwi” Which calls for unity. “This simply demonstrates the action against the government and the measures it has implemented.”Labor MP Carmel Cipollone, who was present in the procession, told AFP. “They set fire to the gunpowder.”. The Prime Minister's Office was not available to comment on the protests on Thursday, but the day before Christopher Luxon had hoped it would. “Peaceful and law-abiding”.

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