New Zealand: Protests against the government's “anti-Maori” policy.

New Zealand: Protests against the government's “anti-Maori” policy.

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.

The organizer of these demonstrations, Te Pati Māori (Māori Party), said in a statement: “We must take a stand against all anti-Māori measures implemented by this government.”

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 the slogan “Totera mai nga iwi” calling for unity.

Labor MP Carmel Cipollone, who was present at the procession, told AFP: “This simply demonstrates the movement against the government and the measures it has implemented.” “They lit the gunpowder.”

The Prime Minister's Office was not available on Thursday to comment on the demonstrations, but the day before Mr Luxon had hoped they would be “peaceful and law-abiding”.

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