I’ve just realised we’re entered June (and Matariki as well) and I haven’t updated the best and worst performing Maori MP’s page. I’ve been shit busy over the past few weeks and will be throughout June so I don’t think I’ll have too much time to blog. However, I have managed to quickly put together a list of the best and worst performing Maori MP’s in May.
Hone, for the sixth consecutive month, dominates the best performing list. Now some people may suspect that I am allowing my personal views to influence my objective judgement. Everyone knows I support what Hone stands for and what he is trying to achieve, but this, I can assure you, does not affect where he stands on the list. I aim to be as objective as possible when compiling this list, hence why I offer my, mostly objective, reasoning and allow that reasoning to stand to scrutiny. Of course such a list is, by nature, a matter of perspective and definition – having said that one can measure performance without recourse to, for example, value judgements.
I will refrain from continuing this tangent and offer the link to the list, or alternatively you could continue down and read the list which I have pasted into this post.
The best and worst performing Maori MP’s for May (in no particular order)
Hone Harawira continues to direct Maori political discourse. Maori politics is now a dichotomy – represented by the Mana Party, or more specifically Hone, and the Maori Party. Hone has assumed the position as the de facto Maori opposition, a position the Labour Party occupied prior to Hone’s split with the Maori Party. This is, in part, coincidence, but more so the result of good politics. Hone has managed to attract and sustain intensive media coverage for the past few months as well as suck popular and institutional support from the Maori Party. Many key players from the Maori Party have defected and, as a matter of course, joined Hone. Furthermore, according to the latest Horizon Poll, Hone has sponged popular support from the Maori Party.
Although the media and by all accounts many Tai Tokerau voters opposed Hone calling a byelection, his rationale was sound and, politically speaking, the only option. Hone managed to deflect criticism with the line that there is no price to democracy and that forcing a byelection is common practise, a convention almost, and he must, given the events of the past five months, seek a renewed mandate. A number of polls, including a poll run by the Northern Advocate, indicate that Hone enjoys overwhelming support in Tai Tokerau. He must be doing something right.
Hekia is, to be polite, less than endearing and finally features in the best performing list after a number of months in the worst performing list. It is now becoming clear that Hekia is going places. She was gifted the Energy portfolio and fronted the Petrobras controversy – quite well to her credit. Although I found her position opposing her own people quite sad and, at times, repugnant, I cannot deny that she presented herself well and delivered her lines expertly (she even managed to avoid lying last month which is an achievement in itself). Hekia is also a member of the Ministerial Working Group investigating options to smash beneficiaries. This indicates that she is an influential Cabinet member. As an aside, an alternative reading of the situation though is that she is merely a tokenistic member – i.e. the brown female face. But I tend to doubt this.
As Georgina Te Heu Heu exits the scene Hekia will become, if she is not already, the leading Maori figure in the National Party Caucus.
Shane Jones continues to deliver for Labour. Although he remains a bystander while Hone and the Maori Party dominate the debate he continues to chip away with press releases and clever lines on, for example, Maori radio. Someone needs to bring Labour back into the debate and Shane appears to be that person. His appearance on Waka Huia was, in my opinion, brilliant. The piece was personal and offered an insight into the real Shane Jones – a more likeable Shane Jones. I think last month reinforced the idea that Shane is moving away from the expenses scandal and moving towards a leadership position within Labour.
Kelvin is, unarguably, a strong candidate. His performance so far has been outstanding. The key to winning the byelection is to differentiate - offer the voters of Tai Tokerau a clear choice – Kelvin has managed to do this well. It is now a race between Kelvin and Hone. Kelvin Davis, and by extension Labour, have managed to create the perception that Kelvin represents Maori futures and practises inclusive politics, whereas Hone represents the past and practises the politics of division. Credit must be given to Kelvin for his enthusiasm and, indeed, courage. Hone is a strong candidate and, arguably, unassailable. Kelvin’s billboards are also up and his campaign team is in place – I think we can expect a strong performance at the polls from him.
Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia:
Yes, these two make the best performing list. Although the party continues to decline, Sharples and Turia are attempting to stem the bleed and regain what was lost. Both leaders are talking up the “wins”, or at least that is how they are spinning it, they won in the budget and are aggressively highlighting the wins they gained in previous years. It is to early to say whether this bragging approach is working, I’m not holding my breath though.
Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia:
Yes, they are in both lists. Although they have managed to spin the budget as a win, the reality is not so flash. Politics is not just about manipulating public opinion, politics is also about government. On the government front, the party has not done so well. For my reasons why please see this post on the budget and what it means for Maori.
Solomon Tipene had an absolutely shocking start to his byelection campaign. I am of course referring to his first press conference following the announcement of his selection as the Maori Party candidate. To be fair, the situation must have been intimidating and utterly foreign, but this is no excuse. Tipene should have been prepared to nail it. Unfortunately he screwed it and came off looking incompetent, tired and unsuited to politics. Impromptu speaking skills are a virtue in politics, Tipene appears to lack such skills though. This does not bode well for the Maori Party.
Inexcusable rape comments. Enough said.
Metiria does not occupy a position in the worst performing list as a direct consequence of her own actions, rather the actions of the Greens. The Greens pride themselves on equal opportunity, the special place of tangata whenua etc… however the party list features no Maori in winnable positions besides Metiria. David Clendon is Maori, however he is not an MP who focuses, or indeed gives any attention, to Maori issues. Metiria was guilty of trying to spin the list as a positive for Maori and an indication of the Green Party’s support for Maori. Meteria is attempting to spin what cannot be woven. It is abundantly clear that Maori are sparse on the list.