“We lost our land. We lost our language. We’ve lost our identity and it created inequities and disparities since for our people,” she told TVNZ.
“We have clear aspirations to ensure we return to who we were. We were entrepreneurs. We were exporting overseas. We were thriving.”
Ardern acknowledged the government of the day was responsible for “devastating long-term prejudice”.
“As a result, your hapu and whanau [families] have faced significant socio-economic deprivation and lived in worse conditions than non-Maori. You were prevented from reaching your full social and economic potential and had to fight to maintain your Maniapoto identity and language.”
The Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and hundreds of Maori chiefs, is considered NZ’s foundational document.
Misunderstandings over its meaning and translation continue to hound reconciliation efforts and full participation of Maori in modern life.
Since 1975 – when the Waitangi Tribunal was founded – governments of all political persuasions have pursued treaty settlements as a means of rectifying those wrongdoings, signing dozens of settlements and apologies.
Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little said he wanted the apology to “lay the groundwork for a new partnership to provide for the future wellbeing and prosperity of Maniapoto”.
“When Maniapoto rangatira [Maori chiefs] signed the Treaty in 1840, they expected to build a partnership with the Crown,” he said.
“For more than a century after this, the Crown repeatedly broke the promises it made leading to devastating loss of life and land, and social and economic deprivation.”
The apology followed a two-day celebration of a new “whare tupuna” [ancestral house] built in Te Kuiti.
Meanwhile, the last major public poll of 2022 has underscored the tough task ahead for Ardern’s Labour party to win a third term at next year’s election.
A TVNZ-Kantar poll released on Monday confirms opposition party National’s ascendancy, with 38 per cent support to Labour’s 33 per cent.
If those numbers are repeated at the 2023 election, National would govern with a majority in coalition with the right-wing ACT party, which polled 11 per cent.
Citing rising cost of living and inflation, Ardern told TVNZ there was “no question it is a difficult time to be in government”.
“Our job is to crack on because we have the privilege of governing, and that is what we’re doing,” she said.
The figures stand in stark contrast to where Ardern and Labour finished last year, with a 41 to 28 lead over centre-right National.
National has led Labour in the last six polls published by broadcasters, TVNZ and Three.
A major difference is opposition leader Chris Luxon, who took the helm 12 months ago, correlating to the start of National’s soaring support.
The former Air New Zealand chief executive recorded his best-ever personal support in the TVNZ poll at 23 per cent.
While Ardern remains ahead, she clocked her worst result of 29 per cent.