Duncan Garner speculates on what could have been:
With Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples retiring at the 2014 election, the leadership of the Maori Party could have easily gone to Harawira, if he sat tight, stayed in the tent, managed his activism and been a bit more patient. That he hasn't is tragic.
I don’t know about this. I always thought Te Ururoa was the natural pick post Turia and Sharples. Te Ururoa didn’t, or hasn’t, exactly achieved more or less than Hone in Parliament – the thing is he was always the more palatable face. A man of compromise and, by all accounts, respected across the entire political spectrum. Hone was, while is actually, hated outside of the left. I think many Parliamentarians hold a grudging respect for him, but would rather not turn off their voters and work publicly with Hone. So, it was always in the Maori Party’s best interests to elevate Te Ururoa over Hone. Both men had their camps – i.e. Hone had the activist faction while Te Ururoa would have won the conservative element in the Maori Party – but ultimately the conservatives (which would include many of the kaumatua of the party) would have had their way.
Ideally it should be a vehicle that holds all the Maori seats and is the balance of power at each election. The Maori Party, in their ideal political world, should be in the position where it chooses who governs every three years. It has clearly failed to get to that point.
So, so true. Makes me yearn for what could have been. Hone shouldn’t field all of the blame though. Hone took the principled road – he listened to Maori and he rebelled against the insufficient MCA Act. He didn’t put up with policies that discriminated against the poor. In my opinion he did the right thing. The Maori Party lost their way. The ends certainly did not justify what the Maori Party swallowed. The ETS dumped costs on already struggling Maori households, the ACC changes disadvantaged many Maori, the 90 fire at will law decreased Maori job security, the MCA Act went against Maori aspirations and the tax swindle put pressure on Maori budgets… and for what… a flag over the harbour bridge, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, a constitutional review, rearranged and renamed funding. About the only thing I can think of that will benefit Maori in a real way is Whanau Ora (which has been massively underfunded). That is not to say the Maori Party’s achievements are for nought. Maori are, in my opinion, better off for what the Maori Party has done and I think we’ll look back and say, ae, they did achieve something. But on balance, the Maori Party has probably applied more pressure on Maori than they have eased.
There appears to be no succession plan to replace Turia and Sharples. If there is, it's not yet evident. But it could and should have been Hone, if he was willing to pull on his big boy pants and be a true leader - rather than a sniper on the sidelines.
Yeah, not sure if there is either. The obvious successors are Flavell and Katene, but that’s assuming they survive. Other than them maybe Waihoroi Shortland and Kaapua Smith? One of the fundamental differences between Mana and the Maori Party is that Mana have a succession plan (or are formulating one). At the moment, Mana looks to be the more sustainable movement for Maori.
Maori need a strong independent voice, not a bunch of weakened one or two man bands that hold little or no sway.
The Maori Party and Mana will be back. But for what? With whom? And just what can they achieve?
The logical position for Mana and the Maori Party is to form a bloc. A bloc where the Mana Movement focuses on the Party vote and the Maori Party focuses on the electorate vote. Hone originally wanted this but the Maori Party, in their most dumb and self interested move yet, threw it back in his face. Dumb. Just dumb.
Beyond Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples I see no future for the Maori Party. It would take some dramatic wins and some dramatic fuck ups from Hone for the Maori Party to regain relevance. The tide is going out on the Maori Party and rising on the Mana Movement. A shame really. It comes down to this: there is no one Maori voice, we speak in different voices, different languages even. Whakapapa will bind us, but we are not of one mind.