Parekura Horomia should stand as a list candidate only. If Labour wants to retain Ikaroa-Rawhiti a succession plan needs to be put in place. As an aside, the Maori Party should be doing the same in the interests of longevity. If they do not they will be a one hit wonder and Labour will step in once Turia, Sharples and Flavell have gone. But back to Parekura. I think an anointed Labour Party candidate would do well. So long as Parekura campaigns alongside him or her. In the last two elections the Maori Party came reasonably close to snatching the seat. The sudden lose of Parekura would translate to a Maori Party victory in my opinion. However, if Parekura can transfer his personal following over to the next Labour candidate the Maori Party will remain outside of striking distance.
On the subject of Parekura, he is on the right side of his constituents in saying maintaining traditional lifestyles outweigh any perceived economic gains. On other hand, the Prime Minister is on the wrong side of tangata whenua in saying they must consider the economic benefits. The risk posed is unacceptable. The local people should have a greater say in whether oil prospecting and extraction occurs. The locals will shoulder the risk, yet receive little in return.
Were a disaster to occur it will be the local people who are directly, and almost immediately, affected. I will not be affected here in Wellington nor will the Prime Minister. I will lose nothing, but I probably would have benefited through the increase in economic activity, while the local people will lose their recreational ground, their food basket and ultimately the lifestyle that has sustained them for almost one thousand years. The value of their property will plummet, their quality of life will plummet and an exodus would occur. The whenua and the moana would become a sparsely populated wasteland.
Most readers will have heard about Jamie Lee-Ross and his call for the abolition of the Maori seats. Veronica Tawhai, a politics lecturer at Massey University, rebuts Lee-Ross. I encourage you to read it. There is also an excellent discussion over at Big News.
The Maori Statutory Board (MSB) funding drama is now resolved. Both parties appear to have compromised and an agreement has been reached. The MSB played the situation very well. The board was always in the stronger position. The Council could not afford to have the issue dragged out in the public domain. That would have been, politically, very damaging. Hopefully the MSB can get on with the job now.