A round of the week in Maori politics. Tea tapes aside, week 3 of the election campaign in Maori politics was a lot more exciting than the last.
Surprisingly, the Herald on Sunday’s (HoS) story on Pita Sharples electorate manager, Martin Cooper, failed to carry over to Monday. The HoS revealed Cooper used his position to influence the Auckland Council. On Radio Live with Willie and JT Sharples blames the media for highlighting the story. It appears that Pita Sharples thinks that possible corruption in his office is a non-issue and the media should be beat up on for doing their job. Nice (sarcasm).
Te Karere released their latest poll, this time on Waiariki. The poll showed Te Ururoa Flavell enjoys a commanding lead. I, as well as Bomber and Tim Selwyn, doubted the poll’s validity. I don’t accept that Te Ururoa enjoys 56%. Annette and Louis both polled 22%.
On RNZ Social Development Minister Paula Bennett refused to commit to retaining Whanau Ora. Bennett claimed the policy is not National Party policy and these things will be fleshed out after the election. On the same program Labour’s Annette King said Labour has no qualms about continuing Whanau Ora. Bennett’s stance may prove detrimental to the Maori Party/National Party relationship. King’s comments may go some way to rebuilding trust between Labour and Tariana Turia.
On Monday night Native Affairs held their Te Tai Tokerau debate. As an aside, Native Affairs won best current affairs show at the Aotearoa Film and Television Awards. I picked Kelvin as the winner, but most in the media and the blogosphere picked the win for Hone – fair enough.
Tariana Turia led with her call for family who care for disabled whanau to be paid as caregivers. I see no issue with this. It seems wrong that the government pays strangers to act as caregivers but not family. I’m not sure if this is Maori Party policy is whether Turia is acting in her capacity as Disabilities Issues Minister.
The Maori media, particularly Radio Waatea, started paying attention to Labour’s Maori policy. Labour quietly released their Maori policy statement after I criticised them for not doing so last Friday. For my discussion of the policy see this post over at Pundit. The statement was broad, but the first step to influencing Maori political discourse. I say broad, but I should also add that there are some very specific policies like increasing funding for Maori tourism, extending 20 hours free education to Kohanga reo and restabilising Maori trade training.
RNZ reported sparks were flying at a Te Tai Tonga debate hosted by Ngai Tauira at Victoria University. The two main contenders, Rino Tirikatene and Rahui Katene, were at each others throat for most of the debate. National’s Paul Quinn, apparently, got in on the action as well. The highlight of the debate was probably the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis candidate telling the others they need to calm down and smoke more weed.
Wednesday was fairly quiet. Labour’s Maori policy statement still led on Waatea and TVNZ’s multiparty leaders debate was held that night. Consensus seems to be that Hone Harawira was a top performer and Tariana Turia performed well too. John Armstrong, who is certainly no friend of Hone, declared Hone the standout. Tracey Watkins praised Tariana Turia in the Dom and I took my hat off to both leaders, but Tariana in particular.
It was a busy day for the Mana Movement. In response to the Nat’s draconian plans to drug test beneficiaries Hone Harawira and Annette Sykes called for Cabinet to lead by example and submit themselves for drug tests. After all, as the Nat’s say when they propose draconian measures, the innocent have nothing to fear. Mana also slammed the pay increase MPs are set to receive next year and Sue Bradford continued her run of positive publicity with another profile in a major daily.
In the Herald Claire Trevett looked insightfully at the Maori Party relationship with the Nats. Rawiri Taonui gave his opinion on the Maori seats too. His points bear close, close resemblance to everything I have been saying for the past year. Except Taonui takes the safe road and picks Te Ururoa to retain Waiariki. A safe bet, but it's still 50/50.
On RNZ Mana's Annette Sykes slams the Maori Party statement that Mana cannot represent Maori because Mana contains many Pakeha. Annette takes offence at this saying it goes against Maori values. Annette highlights that Maori values dictate that Maori embrace Pakeha and that saying this isn't true is a misunderstanding of kaupapa Maori. I would add that the Maori Party's contention disrespects the Pakeha whakapapa of many Maori too. Annette tops it off and says the Maori Party is, rather than Maori led, "National led".
I speculate in the Herald that the Green activist base may move to Mana in response to Russell Norman throwing Joylojn White overboard. Over at Pundit I also explore Labour’s Maori policy statement and the surprises it contains.
Pita Sharples reckons his opponent, Shane Jones of course, is a waste if he is not the leader of the Labour Party. Sharples thinks the party should have gifted him a safe seat like Manurewa. I agree. I don't know what Labour was thinking standing him in Tamaki Makaurau.
If there's anything I've missed please leave a comment and I'll update it as soon as I can. And also remember to keep tuned to Radio Live next week. Willie and JT have been interviewer prominent politicians in the lead up to the election including many Maori politicians.