Life and Politics

Occasional comment on politics and the media in New Zealand

Tag: Maori Party

Whanau Ora could provide Labour opportunity over National

by Jake Quinn

The only hit National really took in the polls last year, if you could even call it a hit, was a mixture of some bikey and ACC backlash mixed with the suspicion over concessions to the Māori Party around the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Worse for National, it created a deeper story that Labour could begin to tell:  Enter Goff’s Nationhood speech, which while derided by some on the liberal left as dog-whistle politics, succeeded in consolidating the meme that National was ‘in bed’ with the Māori elite (the big forest owners of Ngai Tahu in this case).  This meme continued to slow cook over the summer months and could boil into action later in the year.

This year will see the Māori Party trying to progress its Whanau Ora policy platform which could see Vote money from Health, Education, Welfare and Justice, flow directly to Māori providers (the Whanau Ora Taskforce is about to complete its cycle of report backs to Ministers).

Ms Turia, in June last year called it “the way forward to achieving a future where whanau determine what is in their best interests.” So it will be very interesting to see what actually comes out the process.

What it could mean for Māori wishing to continue to use the services of the ‘mainstream’ public hospitals, schools, courts, prisons, etc I’m not sure.  After all, we can’t carve off 10-15% of a department’s budget, give it to some other provider and then continue to offer the same public service on less money, should 10-15% of the population choose not to head off to the new provider.

Intellectually, Labour should have no problem opposing the large-scale devolution of public funds to what may essentially be private providers, who may or may not be as accountable to Ministers as their competition, we shall see.  Labour after all is the party of a large and centrally controlled state sector.

So when the Whanau Ora legislation hits Parliament for debate, if it ever gets that far, you might well expect Labour to oppose it, and in doing so they wouldn’t be engaging in opportunistic dog-whistle politics, but staying true to the party’s principles.

The flip side though is that if Labour goes on the attack over Whanau Ora (and National’s support of it), the same accusations that were laid after Goff’s Nationhood speech will again rear their ugly heads. Can, or will, Labour handle that fallout?  My bet is they will.

The Maori Party and the ETS

by Jeremy Greenbrook-Held

Of all the things that were going to rip the Maori Party apart, it looks more and more likely that it’s going to be support for National’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

Russell Norman’s observations in The House are telling:

Hekia Parata from National has been given the job of sitting next to Te Ururoa Flavell in the House to make sure the Maori Party do what they promised in their dirty deal. Now he’s been taken outside to be leaned on in private.

But don’t worry – everything will be alright now Maori have been given the honour of flying ‘their’ flag on the Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day.  Although given that Maori – like any other ethnic group – are hardly homogeneous, just what their flag is is still open for debate.

Speaking of Hekia Parata, is there any truth to the rumour that she’s currently advertising for her fourth executive assistant in little over a year?

Hone to stay, a win for the Maori Party

by Jake Quinn

Dr Sharples says the Maori Party “would not push out Mr Harawira if he refused to leave and continued to be backed by his electorate“.  This is the most sensible outcome for the future of the party and a defeat for the special interests that would have been better served by the removal of the strongest activist voice from within it.

The decision to keep Hone on is a win win for the party because he’s now been sufficiently chastised (as was suggested as being necessary here) which appeases the media who have had their fill of blood, but keeps in the whare a popular (in certain key constituencies) and high-profile MP.

Importantly, this stifles, for now at least, the potential of another Maori focused party being established by Hone, which would have had the potential to split the Maori vote between the pragmatists and the ideologs – to both movements’ disadvantage.

The losers from Hone’s return are Labour and National.  National lose because their coalition partner would have been oh-so-more amenable without Mr Harawira to deal with.  Labour lose because an imploding Maori Party would have increased the likelihood of them taking back the Maori Seats at future elections.

Conspiracies and race-cards

by Jake Quinn

Chris Trotter conjures up an interesting conspiracy theory.  His character plays the role of a fictional journalist asking the curly ones about HoneHarawira’s email leaker, Mr Buddy Mikaere.  The central question being, what, if anything, does Mr Mikaere have to gain from Hone departing the Maori Party (and how this might be related to his leaking of said email)?

Totter’s character asks: “Who is this man? What does he do? Who does he rub noses with? Did he have anything to gain by becoming involved in the Harawira controversy? Who, if anyone, did he talk to before releasing the offending e-mails?”

Trotter’s theory, as I read it, goes a little like; Maori Party supports Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) legislation and in return gets Foreshore & Seabed Act repeal plus ETS sweeteners for Maori (exclusive tree planting rights on DOC land etc), and Mikaere benefits in some way because of his role representing Iwi in such dealings and Hone is the only man who could possibly stand in his way… or something like that.

It could be totally off the mark.  But who would know.

David Farrar then draws our attention to the reasonably legitimate accusation from Colin Espiner that Phil Goff has played the race-card not once, but twice, in the last week.

Espiner writes: “Twice in the past week, Goff has played the race card, albeit carefully, by suggesting first that there was one rule for Harawira over his comments about white mo-fos and another rule for other MPs, and then raising the prospect that National’s proposed settlement with iwi over the ETS was based on ethnicity.”

It most certainly doesn’t resemble Brash’s despicable “birth-right to the upper hand” version of the tactic, but sounds like a mild dog whistle none the less. (That’s if it’s possible for a mild one to exist, I mean they either hear it or they don’t, right?)

Not many around here (based on this kind of logic), but plenty of folks are mightily peeved by Hone’s words, and his direct attack on Goff (saying he should be shot for his involvement in passing the Foreshore and Seabed Act) could be seen to have given the Labour leader legitimate cause to enter the fray. However, he should be very careful, as David suggests,with how he treads this line.  Going blue-collar on motorbikes is one thing, but let us not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Update: I just saw Patrick Gower’s bit in the Herald yesterday where he congratulates Goff for using Brash-like language (one law for all, bludged off the tax payer) and where he says Michael Law’s thinks Goff is “becoming relevant again”.

Sigh. Caucus next week should be interesting.

Oh, and the Standard likes it.  How odd (I’m not being sarcastic, I actually find it odd).

What could time-out time for Hone mean for the Maori Party?

by Jake Quinn

Hone Harawira, according to the NZ Herald, will be pushed if he doesn’t jump.  This week really hasn’t been a good one for him.  When the story first broke of his leaked email calling white folk “white mother-f**kers” my initial reaction could best be summed up as “lol”.

You see, I am just not that easily offended and what’s more, I am simply willing to tolerate, to a point, more ‘racism’ from Maori towards non-Maori than vice-versa, in the same way that I tolerate, to a point, more sexism or violence from women towards men than vice-versa.  It’s about power relationships.

People have likened Hone’s outburst to that of Paul Holmes ‘cheeky darky’ comments about Kofi Annan.  The main difference here was that Hone was running his mouth in anger, but about something he truly feels passionate about (that is, how dastardly Pakeha have treated Maori throughout history), whereas Holmes was most likely being mischievous in his comments because Newstalk ZB was in a ratings period, and he knew his comments would cause a stir and increase his ratings above that of his main rival during the survey period.  The two outbursts thus cannot be compared.

Hone’s problem has been his handling of events since the outburst, such as calling for Goff and Labour to be lined up against a wall and shot, and probably worse for him, he clearly fell out with his party’s co-leaders by refusing to take their line of advice, which would have no doubt included a slightly more hyde-esk mea culpa.

Last night I conducted my weekly political focus group session (that is, Thursday night poker) and have concluded that 20 something Hamiltonian Pakeha males think Hone has done the Maori Party no favours at all, that he is racist and that there is a double standard if he gets away with it, and that for the Maori Party to succeed they need to sack him and let that nice Mr Sharples get on with working with that nice Mr Key. This sentiment is no doubt shared by many in the country.

So where does this leave Hone.  If he is removed from the Maori Party he could stand in and win his seat, returning as an independent.  But what would be the point?  Hone doesn’t want to be some rouge independent, off-side from his Maori Party constituency.  What’s more Hone leaving the party but maintaining a political presence could fracturing the activist and pragmatist Maori vote, and signal the beginning of the end of the Maori Party as we know it.

The Maori Party has some tough decisions to make over this stuff and none of it comes lightly. My advice? Chastise, chastise, chastise, but don’t kick him out as it could be the beginning of the end for your party.  Many Maori Party voters need a Hone in there to cling to.  They respect Sharples, hell everyone does (and that’s half the problem), but Hone brings X-factor to the table that his colleagues simple cant.

Update: Associate Professor Ann Sullivan, Head of Maori Studies at the University of Auckland, seems to agree; she says the Maori Party co-leaders have made a mistake and that Hone is more important to the Maori Party grassroots than the mainstream media acknowledge.  She also says that playing this saga out through the media, and so quickly, is a mistake (7 minutes 40 seconds in - on Afternoons with Jim Mora on RNZ today).

James Coe’s Editing the Herald

by Jake Quinn

I think James Coe pens the best blog in New Zealand. Just in case any Life and Politics readers have missed it, I thought i’d remind them where it lay. It’s this one: Editing the Herald.

His posts in the last few weeks have been particularly great. Today he writes on the Herald’s coverage of the Hone stuff. Last week’s best was this little gem on the BNZ’s “closed for good” PR sideshow and the paper’s lackluster coverage of the big-banks fraud cases in general.

He also has a Sunday radio slot on BFM but i haven’t heard it.

Judgement Day

by Jeremy Greenbrook-Held

There is a lot of talk about what is going to happen to Hone Harawera today. He is giving his first public interview since he revealed that he took a side trip to Paris with his wife when he was supposed to be at an EU meeting in Brussels, and then didn’t mince his words when responding to an email question from a high-profile Maori Party supporter.

Will Hone simply apologise, or will he go down in a screaming heap? Will he jump parties, force a by-election, or flip the bird at his critics? But, perhaps more importantly… Read the rest of this entry »

There’s Something About Hone

by Jeremy Greenbrook-Held

I quite like Hone Harawira, and I honestly didn’t expect to when he entered Parliament in 2005. I tarred him with the antics of his mother, but was pleasantly surprised. His ability to engage with and advocate for his constituency, his ‘call a spade a spade’ attitude, and his ability to cut through the crap that politics tends to generate would generally make him a successful politician.

And this week he doesn’t fail to disappoint.

First,  he went off on a Richard Worth camel ride trip to Paris instead of attending official meetings in Brussels, then he responded to an email questioning his actions in less than poetic language. This has really got under the skin of Stuff.co.nz commentors, who are almost unanimously calling on him to be sacked. The Prime Minister has called Harawira’s comments “deeply offensive”, while Tarina Turia has waded into the fold claiming that Harawira’s actions were damaging to the Maori Party’s reputation.

Now, the trip to Paris wasn’t a great idea (worth noting that Labour MP Rajen Prasad stated at the time “what goes on tour, stays on tour”, while Harawira went right ahead and outed the trip in his own newsletter), and an MP responding to correspondence from a member of the public with abuse isn’t a good look. But the thing is, Harawira doesn’t need to appeal to commentors on Stuff.co.nz. Or John Key. Or even Tariana Turia. Harawira has to appeal to the voters in the Te Tai Tokorau electorate. As Harawira said, his own people will judge him – he’s a straight shooter, doesn’t hide a thing, and I think his constituents respect him immensely for that.

Brendan Burns has blogged that Hone looks likely to go. As much as Labour would like to see the Maori Party cull their most effective highest profile MP, I don’t think it’s very likely. Harawira has a huge majority in his electorate – 32% over Labour’s Kelvin Davis – while Labour won the Party Vote. While Turia and Shapples are bullshiting about their “mana enhancing relationship” with John Key and Rodney Hide, Harawira is saying it how it is, and because of that, I’d say he’s staying right where he is.

***

On a related note, I’m informed that Hone turned up to Sue Bradford’s valedictory, but sat in the public gallery wearing a Hawaiian shirt. You got to hand it to him – the man’s got style.

[EDIT: Oh snap, Jake]

Whanganui

by Jeremy Greenbrook-Held

At last – the New Zealand Geographic Board will be advising the Minister of Land Information to officially rename the City of Wanganui “Whanganui”. One little H, a great big fuss.

Here’s a question for you to ponder:

Maurice Williamson (as Minister of Land Information) now gets to sign off on the ‘new’ name of Whanganui. Coming from a party that has consistently voted against Maori (Maori seats on the Auckland Council, Matariki holiday), will he ignore the advise of the NZ Geographic Board, siding with rednecks like Michael Laws? Or will he have Whanganui renamed?

And further, will Tariana Turia (a Whanganui local, I understand?) continue as an MP in the National/ACT Government if her Government doesn’t correctly rename her City? And if so, why?

Maori seats: the question for Labour

by Jake Quinn

If you were in charge of Labour strategy, would you:

Put out a press statement titled “If Labour were the Government, Maori would have got their seats“.  Thus pointing out the clear difference to Maori of voting Labour instead of Maori Party at the next election.  But running the risk of being accused of being opportunist or worse a hypocrite (thinking back to its handling of the Foreshore and Seabed, abandoning ‘closing the gaps’, or removing some references to the Treaty post-Orewa).

Or would you stay quite quiet, bide your time and hope that Key’s governing situation goes pear shaped under the pressure of squabbling coalition children.  Knowing that if the Maori Party pulled the plug, National would be pulled away from the centre (where Key desperately wants it, for vote-retaining reasons) or if Hide pulled the plug that National would be trapped with the Maori Party having to support their entire work programme.

Disappointing Maori seat backdown

by Jake Quinn

And it’s a back down because before last week, the prevailing opinion was that Key would strike a deal with Sharples, based on the overwhelming support at the select committee for having Maori seats, and pull through on some kind of deal that included them for Auckland’s new super council.

Key signalled for months that the seats were on the table.  Hide pulls his ‘principled stunt‘ and to be fair to him it does match his principles (the poor bastard would have had to take the very bill through the House that brought the seats into being), and suddenly the game changes.

One gets the feeling that Key just couldn’t take cabinet with him.

But Key doesn’t need Hide as a minister, he’s got the numbers any way he looks, what’s more, Hide has made it clear he won’t being down the government (not that he could, what this really means is that Hide won’t pull his parties support on confidence and supply thus forcing the Nat’s into the unenviable position of having to rely solely on the Maori Party).

So why the change of heart?  Key is so far ahead in the polls he doesn’t need to worry about a gap on the right opening up, and in any case they’re are all still votes for a National-led government, so what changed.

The only explanation is that his colleagues had let him meander on with his friendliness to the Maori Party, but when push came to shove, Bill and the old school just wouldn’t have a bar of it.

New Zealand needs to remember that just because Mr Key is a decent bloke, he’s still surrounded by some pretty conservative old cronies, the same lot who stood by and defended this horrid bloody speech.

Key to hammer first nail in Nat-Maori coffin

by Jake Quinn

NZPA reports this morning:

Cabinet is set to make a decision about Maori seats on a new Auckland super city today – likely ruling them out and averting a ministerial resignation… A decision to rule out Maori seats would mean Mr Hide would not have to fulfil a promise made last week to resign over the issue.

Putting to one side the incredible level of spin in the above paragraph, for that is worth another post entirely.  It is likely that should Key say no to the seats, that this decision is not based on Hide’s resignation threat, but on clear polling data from Pakeha Auckland voters that they have no appetite for them.  If that is the case, Hide’s little stunt will work out well as ‘an excuse’ for Key’s decision.

It will however have other consequences.  It would be the first nail in the coffin of the National-Maori Party governing arrangement.  The Maori Party has, as of yet, chosen to play the long game adopting not to sink to Hide’s level.  Good on them.  National would be wise to do similarly.

The sustainability of future National-led minority governments is linked to their relationship with the Maori Party.  The Maori Party are likely to become the de facto kingmaker in many future governments and while National currently has the unusual pleasure of choosing its partner on a case by case basis (they can turn to either Act or the Maori Party to command a legislative majority – that is, they don’t need both), this will not always be the case.

After the next election it is likely that National will be in a position to form a government.  It is also possible that the right (National and Act) will get less total vote share than they did in 2008.  If this happens National will need the Maori Party (or some other centre party) to get the numbers on confidence and supply.  But will their bridges be burned?

Labour needs to do some serious work on its relationship with the Maori Party.  Perhaps the silver lining, should Key today adopt for no Maori seats, is that Labour and the Maori Party will have an issue which can unite them.

Update: from stuff:

Cabinet has ruled out dedicated Maori seats on the new Auckland super city.  Prime Minister John Key said ministers had given consideration to the issue, but decided against it.

Looks like I was wrong, I overestimated John Key and I really am quite disappointed.  I was thinking he might be different.

Labour, catch the ball then work with Maori Party says Lewis

by Jake Quinn

A very interesting piece from a long serving and former Press Secretary of Helen Clark’s, David Lewis, who writes:

“Embarrassing as Labour’s mistakes have been, they owe more to intense frustration at National’s never-ending honeymoon than to any systemic failure. It was only a few weeks ago, after all, that Labour was all over the government in the House. The fifth Labour government was a popular government for a very long time, but even its honeymoon was over by the first winter. No such luck with this lot.”

“Yes, they got spanked in Mt Albert, got spanked over Christine Rankin, and have lost a minister already, but John Key’s breezy and approachable style remains, for now, unassailable with no poll slump in sight. The hydro lakes are full, removing a perennial winter bugbear for incumbent governments. And not even the most hardened National-haters blame them for the recession.” …

“There is also, however, a strategic issue which Goff needs to address – Labour’s relationship with the Maori Party.” …

“The continued sniping between Labour’s Maori MPs and the Maori Party is hardly the secure foundation upon which to build a secure working relationship. It’s not helped by Labour’s Maori MPs’ discomfort at the way their Maori Party counterparts outshine them with verve and flair.”

Foreshore & seabed victory for nats and maori

by Jake Quinn

The review panel has concluded that the controversial Foreshore and Seabed Act should be repealed and if the Prime Minister follows the advice his National Party and the Maori Party will both land major political victories.

The Maori Party was created to fight the Act and has always had at it’s heart the primary goal of destroying it, calling it “the single biggest land nationalisation statute enacted in New Zealand history”. The review of the legislation was the primary plank of their post-election support agreement with the new National government.

If/when the legislation is repealed and replaced with something more paletable the Maori Party will have achieved their primary aim and will be able to clearly articulate this to their constituents. They can say that they alone made the difference, that they righted the biggest wrong of Helen Clark’s fifth Labour government.

National on the other hand are in a position do what Labour were – for various reasons and many not of their making – never able to do. That is, to cut a deal that involves no restrictions to public beach access (creating little pakeha panic) and also gives Maori recompense for what they consider to have been large scale land title confiscation.

Meanwhile Labour is left on the side lines trying with a straight face to say “well done guys, can I get a high five in there too”.

National are now in the enviable position of not having an opposition whipping up fear from the cross benches. Labour has made it quite clear in recent months that the Act was a very difficult piece of legislation to have dealt with and Micheal Cullen considers how it played out to be one of his biggest regrets.

Sharples kicks off maori achievement debate

by Jake Quinn

Maori educational achievement is a topic worthy of debate and Associate Education Minister Pita Sharples was clever to raise it this week.

With the Richard Worth saga, the boring budget, the super saving cuts and the Mt Albert by-election shifting off the political agenda, we are left only to discuss the smacking referendum.

Fortunately the Maori Party co-leader saved us from such trivia by suggesting, amongst other things, that Maori students should have open access to universities without needing university entrance (UE) qualifications.

The suggestion has been shouted down by many in Parliament and with good reason.

How would the 7th form Indian, Pakeha or Samoan kid sitting next to the Maori kid in their final exams feel as his neighbour leaned over and said “good luck pal, because you’ll need it. But I wont – I get in no matter what”.

Barriers to attending university in New Zealand are not actually high. Hell getting into and completing a university degree seems to get easier and easier every year. In my parent’s generation five percent of people went to uni, now it’s nearer fifty percent.

This is for the most part a great thing. Student allowances and – more importantly – universal access to student loans have meant financial barriers to attendance have been eroded.

Furthermore, in New Zealand once you’re 20 you don’t actually need UE to go to Uni. If your under 20 and without UE, you can enrol in a Certificate of University Preparation – a one semester course the ensures you’re capable of handling the demands of a first year course.

So ‘getting in’ isn’t actually the problem and I suspect Dr Sharples knows it. He has raised it though to get people talking which, hopefully, kicks off the wider (and much more important) debate about the education achievement of Maori and how it can be improved.

If Maori are not doing as well at school or uni as their European and Asian peers it’s got a lot more to do with the method of delivery than anything else – so that is what we should be debating.

Finally, it is worth nothing that the Maori Party voted for the Budget. The same budget that made significant cuts to education across the board. Less money to universities, scrapped funding for night classes and the disabled, and got rid of a stack of targeted programmes (some directly targeted at Maori students).

All while it significantly increased government funding for private schools.

[Update: and today, predictably, Sharples pulls back]

he had not meant to imply that all Maori should be allowed into university regardless of their academic prowess.
Instead, they should be provided with sufficient support by universities to get up to the required standarhe had not meant to imply that all Maori should be allowed into university regardless of their academic prowes
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