Former Labour MP John Tamihere has criticised David Cunliffe's choice of running mate for the party's leadership, saying he picked Nanaia Mahuta because she is female and Maori.
''The only thing she's lacking is she doesn't have a limp. Then he would have got the disabled [vote] too. That's the truth of it and that's the way it smacked as soon as I saw it.''
You can always rely on John Tamihere to call it how he sees it, and that’s a good quality, but sometimes the way he calls things is unnecessary and pathetic. The point JT is trying to make is that Nanaia was selected on tokenistic grounds. A fair point, no doubt, but the way he phrased his point was low – offensive basically. He may have got a laugh out of a few racists, ableists and fuckwits, beyond that his comment didn’t serve anyone. JT continues:
Tamihere said Cunliffe's choice of deputy was ''smarmy'' and typical of him.
''I'm the type of Maori that doesn't back dumb Maori, so I'm not saying she's a dumb Maori. I'm just saying if she was awfully meritorious, I'd back her 100 per cent, that has not been my experience.''
Nanaia was the standout in the Native Affairs Kowhiri 11 debates. She defeated her opponents by a Waikato mile in the debates and was, in my opinion, the best communicator of all the Maori candidates who fronted in the different debates. Nanaia is, in my experience, fiercely intelligent too. I don’t know how JT missed that. He must never listen to her I guess.
Jones was a better choice despite not having run a strong campaign in Tamaki Makaurau, Tamihere said.
''Out of the two of them you'd have to rate, on Labour Party values and on the street bringing the men's vote back and a whole bunch of other things, Shane all day long; if he can get over in his own mind the self mutilation that he conducted in that hotel room,'' Tamihere said.
I think this comment gives a hint to where JT is coming from. It seems to me that a little bit of sexism is at play. JT, of course, is no stranger to sexism. Yes, Nanaia is a woman and Shane is a man. That doesn’t make Shane the superior candidate.
JT has overstepped the mark. He didn’t need to launch an attack against Nanaia to prove his point. She’s a strong candidate and strong woman. She deserves respect not this sort of marginalisation.
UPDATE: Nanaia's ripped JT a new one calling him a "failed politician". She advises JT to "stick to his knitting". Nice.