The co-leader of New Zealand’s Māori Party didn’t mince words Tuesday when asked about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s revelation that the royal family were concerned about the colour of their baby’s skin before he was born.
“The Crown? I mean, I don’t know why everyone’s so surprised that the Crown’s racist,” said Debbie Ngārewa-Packer, a member of New Zealand’s Parliament who leads the Māori Party alongside Rawiri Waititi.
Ngārewa-Packer has been a fierce critic of the Crown. In her maiden speech to Parliament last year, she condemned the historic treatment of New Zealand’s Māori people by the royal family’s representatives.
“I stand here as a descendant of a people who survived a holocaust, a genocide, sponsored by this House and members of Parliament whose portraits still hang from the walls,” she told the House in her powerful opening statement. “Members of Parliament who sought our extermination and created legislation to achieve it.”
They took her people’s lands, imprisoned them without trial, murdered and raped women and children, and deliberately “engineered our displacement for generations to come,” she said.
Māori people for decades suffered losses of life, culture, land, resources and power to the British Crown following the 1840 signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the nation’s founding document. During conflict and British invasions in the 1860s, the government passed legislation allowing the confiscation of land from Māori tribes, the effects of which would be felt culturally and economically for decades.
The British monarchy has dominated the news cycle this week following bombshell allegations of racism and mistreatment from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired Sunday night.