I really only blog on Friday now so here are a few issues that caught my attention over the past week:
Hone Harawira has announced his intention to push for the creation of a Maori Parliament. Although his motives are commendable and the underlying principle is strong, in practise such an idea is regressive and impractical. This is the sort of thinking that characterised the 19th century – not 2011. I agree with the statement that Maori politicians are beholden to party interests, but I do not think a separate Maori Parliament is the answer. Kaupapa Maori parties are the answer, meaning parties like the Mana and Maori Parties. If Maori politicians in mainstream parties are not representing Maori interests then we can vote them out. We do not need to chuck them in a separate chamber and have them fight among themselves. Maori in Labour and National play an important role – they effect change from within. That change may be incremental and they may have swallow poison at times, but it is an important role nonetheless. If Maori are not represented in mainstream discourse then non-Maori will walk all over us. This is the sort of policy that will excite the flaxroot, but it is not the sort of policy that will ever be enacted.
Continuing my Hone Harawira theme, he has published an open letter explaining to his supporters why he attended the Destiny Church Conference. I am glad he has and thank him for offering supporters like me an explanation. I still do not support his decision to attend, but I admire his honesty and commitment to people, even when those people may be unsavoury.
Now jumping to Destiny Church. Hannah Tamaki, wife of Brian Tamaki, is running for the presidency of the Maori Women’s Welfare League (MWWL). Many senior members have expressed concerns that the Church is attempting something of a hostile takeover. I do not know what is behind this move. The MWWL is one of the most respected Maori organisations in the country. Former Presidents include Maori heroes like Princess Te Puea and Dame Whina Cooper. I worry because the MWWL is strictly non-sectarian, whereas Hannah Tamaki is a fundamentalist who injects religion wherever she walks. Brian Tamaki is a man with ulterior motives as well. What is he trying to achieve? A take over of New Zealand?
The Maori Youth Council presented a report to the Minister of Maori Affairs, Pita Sharples, outlining their proposals to improve the lot of young Maori. The report is brilliant and recommended reading for policy makers and any other interested parties. One of the more controversial recommendations, which has been picked up by Sharples, is compulsory te reo courses for teachers. A good idea in principle. I support the idea, but only if it receives broad support and endorsement from the teacher’s union’s. I think Patrick Walsh’s suggestion that compulsory courses will cause resentment is overblown. Sure, a few will resent the idea, but many will realise that te reo courses are in the interests of professional development and the key to better relationships with Maori students. But maybe compulsory courses could be restricted to teachers intending to teach at schools with a high Maori roll to avoid creating resentment among teachers who will never come close to teaching Maori students. Finally, Winston Peters points out that there are not enough te reo teachers to teach Maori let alone every teacher in New Zealand. I thinks he makes a good point.
Len Brown has shown once again that he is the most progressive political leader in the country. The Auckland Mayor has indicated that he can and will work with Hone Harawira. Admittedly, local government is different, but good on him nonetheless.
David Rankin has, once again, done himself a disservice. Rankin, following on from his “King of Huntly” smear which was both ignorant and disrespectful, has now claimed that Brian Tamaki is the most effective Maori leader. First of all, Tamaki is a church leader – not a Maori leader. Secondly, “effective leader” is a matter of definition. If you think an effective leader is someone with the power to manipulate and brainwash then yes, he is a damn effective leader. If you think an effective leader is someone with the ability to effect groundbreaking change, then no he is not an effective leader. Tamaki has influenced the lives of many individuals, most for the better, but he has also played an integral part in perpetuating hate. Rankin is a media whore. He just likes to see his name out there. I’m not listening to him anymore. Tariana Turia is right – Rankin is not even the King of Kaikohe.
Speaking of Tariana Turia, she has openly displayed her hostility to class politics. Turia says:
“It's a class party. It’s not a Maori party, They will have to take into account all the interests of everybody else, whereas our focus has always , and we are unashamedly putting our people first and we do,”
So been a class party is all of a sudden a slur? I would take it as a compliment. The interest of the poor are the interests of Maori. But anyway, Mana is a class based party as well as a kaupapa Maori party – an interesting fusion.