Marae Investigates ran a good debate/Q&A show with Kelvin Davis, Solomon Tipene and Hone Harawira this morning. The show also featured political commentators Rawiri Taonui and Ann Sullivan.
Overall, the show was well run. Scotty Morrison is not the best interviewer, but he put forward a number of good questions and shied away from the disruptive style that other Maori interviewers like Willie Jackson and Julian Wilcox favour. Each candidate was given a fair go so credit to Scotty and the producers.
The debate started with a thirty second blurb from the main candidates. In my opinion none of them impressed. Same old, same old really. Kelvin stuck firmly to his successful Maori futures line, Solomon Tipene was better prepared but still underwhelming while Hone seemed to be winging it. The show then cut to a good piece by Jodi Ihaka outlining the problems facing Te Tai Tokerau including unemployment, underachievement in education and looming treaty settlements.
Each candidate was strong on treaty settlements. However, Solomon Tipene put his foot in it when he spouted the “out of grievance mode and into development mode” line. This is a political catchphrase – not a solution or, indeed, a statement with any meaning beyond the emotional.
Both Hone and Kelvin performed well on jobs. Kelvin put forward a number of tangible initiatives that will create jobs tomorrow while Hone was strong on getting people “work ready”. Kelvin was, in my opinion, stronger on jobs – as the Labour candidate should be.
Hone was easily the strongest on rangatahi. He pointed to his strong record creating initiatives like rangatahi radio. Kelvin made the pertinent point that society needs to create hope for rangatahi and belief in their abilities and potential.
Hone was also strong on the 90 employment law illustrating his new found commitment to working class politics. Hone made the point that no worker, whether Maori or Pakeha, should have to work under such grossly unfair conditions. Hone was strong when he illustrated how unfair the law could be in practise.
I thought Kelvin dealt superbly with whether he is beholden to his party. He pointed out that Labour respects and listens too the Maori caucus. Hone finished the strongest when he said the first phone call he will be making on the day is to Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples. He explained that what is good for Maori is more important than personality politics. Solomon Tipene has also improved exponentially over the past few weeks. He is obviously a quick learner.
They then cut to the panel with Rawiri Taonui and Ann Sullivan. Both commentators picked Hone as the winner with Taonui saying “Hone’s given a masterful performance” and Sullivan commending Hone as “the consummate performer”. Both praised the other candidates as well. Rawiri Taonui is picking Hone to win by 5% to 10% and also made the interesting comment that whoever wins Tai Tokerau will win Auckland. Rawiri also picked up and endorsed Hone’s line that a vote for Kelvin is a vote for Kelvin, but a vote for Hone is a vote for Hone and Kelvin.
Ultimately, I would give the debate/Q&A to Hone. He knew the issues, he had solutions and he spoke well off the cuff. Hone is a performer and he never fails to give the people a show. For a bit of laugh you can watch Hone here on 7 Days and here on the Jono Show. I guess this is part of a drive to soften Hone’s image. A very effective way to do so - genius almost - comedy is reliable way to endear yourself to others. I wonder if it’s enough though.