Sep 28, 2011

The Maori Party decline

Metiria Turei delivers her usual good analysis. From Waatea News:

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says the Maori Party will be punished by voters for being so close to National.
Ms Turei says after 15 years of parliamentary politics, the Greens have learned how to get its policies and programmes accepted without being in government.

“The problem for the Maori Party is they’ve got no leverage. They can’t make National do anything. So they can’t stop them doing bad things, they can’t make them do good things, everything the Maori Party gets is because National wants, allows them to have it. And a party like them who were campaining on their tino rangatiratanga, their independence as a Maori force, that was a big cost,” Ms Turei says.

I agree. I do get annoyed, although only slightly, when Maori Party supporters start to attack the party for bedding down with National in the first place. Remember, it was Maori Party supporters who sanctioned the unholy alliance after the party undertook an extensive tour across the motu consulting with Maori Party members and Maori generally.

At its most basic, the Maori Party forgot one thing: the voters are always right, even when they’re wrong. Turia, Sharples, Flavell and Katene may have thought they could rationalise their actions - think the MCA Act, the ETS and the tax switch (GST increase etc) – but the voters thought otherwise. Turia and co. have spent the past electoral cycle trying to justify their legislative actions. One would have thought after years of attempting to bend Maori to their (as in the Maori Party caucus) view that they would have conceded defeat and, in an act of self preservation, bowed to dissenting opinion.

Hone Harawira once told me, and the evidence suggest that this is true, that not a single strategic thought ever crosses the minds of the Maori Party caucus. The chief example of this, for want of a better description, strategic famine came during the passage of the Marine and Coastal Areas Act (MCA Act). Despite widespread opposition from the Maori the party pushed ahead with the Act. The majority of submissions from Maori were opposed to the Act, Maori in the media made it clear that they were not happy with the Act and that they feel Maori were not either and, most significantly, a hikoi, reminiscent of the hikoi of 2004 which gave birth to the Maori Party, left the far north and arrived at the steps of Parliament delivering grief and despair. Despite this, and more, the party pushed ahead and signed their own death certificate.

It takes an especially foolish person to tell their supporters they are wrong. It was not like the party was taking a principled stand. They were just fulfilling a promise in the emptiest sense. That promise was to repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004. Repeal it they did, but replace it with something acceptable and durable they did not. As soon as Mana comes within a whiff of government the MCA Act is gone and it will be open season on the foreshore and seabed debate – again.     

The Maori Party often try to justify their position and say that it is better to be at the table than not. Well, firstly, they are not at the table – they’re Ministers outside of Cabinet. Secondly, is it better to be at the table when your supposed partner prostitutes you? Much like when National used the Maori Party to pass the ETS. Or is it better to be on the outside picking away and earning victories where you can? Much like the Greens.

The Maori Party will pay for their stupidity. The tide is going out on the Maori Party and rising at the feet of the Mana Movement. I often wonder why we, as in Maori, fail to succeed in maintaining successful kauapapa Maori parties. Is it some sort of post colonial condition? Or are we useless politicians? Or maybe these things take time (we are still young after all). Honestly, I don’t know, but I’m hoping Mana will prove sustainable and that Maori in “mainstream” parties begin to take a more prominent role.    

On an unrelated note it appears I was on Closeup last night (the 27th), not Monday night, if you're interested here is the link.

Sep 26, 2011

Tuku survives another day

Tuku Morgan remains at the helm. From RNZ:

The High Court has ruled that Tukoroirangi Morgan remains the chair of the Waikato-Tainui executive. The head of the parliament, Tania Martin, and Mr Morgan have been at loggerheads - publicly disagreeing about a parliament vote to expel him last month. Mr Morgan has maintained he has not been dropped because the vote was invalid, but Mrs Martin said previously that a sufficient majority of votes had disqualified him.

A few months ago I viewed an opinion from Tuku’s solicitors. The opinion held that an insufficient number of votes were cast to disqualify Tuku. A majority of the 65 Marae had to affirm the motion to disqualify Tuku (meaning the threshold is 33 votes or more), however only 30 Marae affirmed the motion, therefore the motion was not carried.

I have yet to read the judgement, but I assume Tuku’s submissions revolved around this point. I doubt this is the last act in what is becoming an increasingly messy saga. Readers know I think Tuku should step down – or be removed - but I also think his opponents are playing a strange game. In the wake of the vote Tania Martin was going around claiming that Tuku was disqualified. This was, it seems, untrue, and I suspect Ms Martin knew this to be so.

Tainui appears, from the outside, to be in good health. The tribe is beginning to overtake Ngai Tahu as, financially speaking, the largest Iwi and projects like Te Awa and achievements like the Waikato River co-management deal are adding Mana to the tribe. However, if you scratch beneath the surface it doesn’t take long to discover significant discord and disunity. Te Kauhanganui and Te Arataura (TA) are at loggerheads, Tania Martin and Tuku Morgan are engaging in what seems like a personal battle and many of the people are dissatisfied with TA’s management style and the distance between the tribe’s financial success and flaxroot benefits.

For a fascinating read re Tainui affairs I recommend readers take a look at Eraka’s blog.

UPDATE: I notice the problem with words running together on the RSS feed isn't fixed. Sorry. I'm on Closeup tonight at 7 on TV One too. Watch it.  

Sep 21, 2011

A short break

I'll be in Kawerau tomorrow and the day after. I'll be filming a follow up story with Closeup on the town. Paula Bennett, the Minister for Social Development, will be appearing and I'll be providing the counter-balance. Daily blogging will resume next week.

Sep 20, 2011

National shows contempt for our democracy

The National Government acts not according to principle, but according to what is pragmatic and favourable for those with power. From

The government will introduce legislation suspending the effect of the Supreme Court Urewera judgement after legal advice rendered nearly all police video surveillance footage unlawful. 

Prime Minister John Key today revealed legal advice that almost all use of covert video surveillance by police had been rendered unlawful by the Supreme Court ruling - a decision with potentially significant implications for law and order in New Zealand.

"To give you an idea of the scale of the impact this has, ministers have received advice up to 40 current trials may be affected by this decision and over 50 police operations will be impacted. 

"We therefore have the immediate and pressing concern that police are currently left in a position where they are unable to investigate some serious criminal proceeding." 

Key confirmed that police had been forced to suspend all video surveillance, including major operations, because of the Supreme Court ruling. 

Cabinet had decided today to take legislation to Parliament temporarily suspending the effect of the decision and it intended to pass it next week under urgency. It was seeking cross-party support to do so.
It appears from the Prime Minister’s statement that the Police were employing unlawful investigation methods across numerous cases. Investigation methods that the Chief Justice described as “deliberately unlawful”.

If the Police were aware in the Urewera investigation, which occurred years ago, that they were employing illegal investigatory methods, yet continued to do so in the years following the completion of the Urewera investigation, then the Police must be held to account. The law should not be bent to accommodate law breakers (i.e. the Police), the law should be used against those who break it intentionally.  

Of course we are going to receive no such thing from this Government, in fact, we will receive the opposite. The Prime Minister has indicated his intention to enact retrospective legislation under urgency. This is a gross assault on the rule of law, but on par for a National Government.   

Retrospective legislation is often associated with despots and, in New Zealand, Tories. Laws should apply prospectively and never retrospectively. The enactment of retrospective legislation destroys certainty in the law and is absolutely arbitrary.

A fundamental tenant of the rule of law is freedom from arbitrariness i.e. freedom from the random enactment and application of laws. The government’s actions in this instance represent arbitrariness at its most bitter. It is worth noting that the Search and Surveillance Bill, which is currently before the House, will fix the so called problem that the Police face. Meaning the bill will legalise the currently illegal practises the Police are employing, but the government would rather arbitrariness and ram through new legislation as opposed to pushing the Search and Surveillance Bill up the order paper.    

The Police are not above the law. One of the most basic conceptions of the rule of law is that nobody is above the law. The Police must obey the law and when a transgression occurs the criminal justice system must be invoked against the offender. This applies as much to a law breaking constable as it does to me.

The Police actions in the Urewera investigation represented a blatant breach of our constitution, of which the rule of law is a cornerstone, and a blatant breach of human rights which, therefore, offends s8(d) of the Police Act 2008.

In reality, the Government can legislate how it wants. However, any decent government should carefully balance their right to enact laws against fundamental social and constitutional values. Government’s right to govern is often limited by what is basic and decent in our society as well as the Treaty of Waitangi and the principles of the Treaty, constitutional conventions and, quite importantly, the rule of law. In my opinion the government’s actions represent a form of double jeopardy and will undermine our confidence in democracy. The government’s legislation will validate the evidence the Police illegally obtained meaning charges can be brought against the former accused. This is, as I said, a form of double jeopardy and an affront to notions of democracy, justice and our egalitarian values. No doubt such legislation will violate a host of international laws as well as domestic law.

The government is also sending a big fuck you to the Courts. The government’s actions, or intentions I guess, in this instance illustrate how authoritarian this government is. This is the daddy state. A government that rules for those in power. As a Maori, I have no confidence in this government. They do not govern in my interests. This government undermines Maori confidence in our democracy. The sooner we turf these pig-headed losers out the better. 

See also: NRT, Imperator Fish, Political Dumpground, Robert Winter, Tumeke, The Dim Post and Gordon Campbell. But for the best analysis see this piece from Dean Kinight of Vic Law School and Andrew Geddis of Otago. 

Sep 19, 2011

Sad stuff

There is a chain email floating around at the moment and the content is, on the one hand, repugnant, and on the other hand, deeply sad.

I have been wondering about why only Whites are racists, but no other race is......

Nope, think Margaret Mutu. She’s been labelled a racist, a Maori supremacist and god knows what else. Think of all the other Maori who have been labelled racist – Hone Harawira, Ranginui Walker, Tame Iti. 

so I got to thinking Maori call me a ‘Pakeha’, [Pa = village, keha = flea, vermin ]

That is an outright lie. There is now linguistic or etymological support to this claim. It is sometimes said that Pakeha means white pig. Again, this is a lie. In Te Reo you cannot derive pa from Poaka (pig). My understanding is that puruhi means flea – not keha.

'Whitey’, ‘Honky’ and ‘Redneck’ and that's OK, but if I call you Hori, you call me a racist.

The terms whitey, honkey, redneck and so on do not carry the same repugnant connotations as Hori Maori, rangi Maori, nigger, black and so on. These terms carry with them notions of historical oppression. They come with a great deal of historical and contemporary baggage. In our Eurocentric society it is a compliment to be a “whitey”, but a put down of the most narcissistic and patronising kind to call someone “black”.

(I was told "Pakeha" as an entire word means "stranger"!Not white man).

You’ve just told us that Pakeha means village flea, now you tell me it means stranger? Tauiwi, which is not a derogatory term, is usually used to mean stranger or other.  

You have a race based Maori Political party

We have a kaupapa Maori party – anyone can join. You don’t need a Pakeha party because you already have many. They’re called National, Labour, the Greens, ACT, the Progressives, United Future – parties for and by Pakeha. You have Pakeha TV – it’s called TVNZ, TV3, C4, FOUR – the list goes on. These are institutions which reflect the dominant culture i.e. western culture. They reflect your values and project your culture onto the rest of us. We cannot escape Pakeha culture. The Maori Party and the Mana Party are one of the few bastions of our culture in a monocultural society.  

special Maori only  parliamentary seats and Maori can stand as a candidate in any parliamentary electorate in New Zealand but white people cannot stand for a Maori seat or be on the Maori roll or a member of the Maori Party.

Pakeha can stand in Maori seats. Kelvyn Alp, a Pakeha, stood in the recent Te Tai Tokerau byelection in fact. Membership of the Maori Party is open to all as well. The Maori seats were created to limit Maori power in Parliament. It is one of the great ironies that the seats are now a source of power.  

You have ‘3 bites at the same electoral cherry’. White people have only one and yet you still say you are dis-advantaged.

I love arguments in isolation. They satisfy simple minds. Every registered voter has two votes. Maori have one party vote and one electorate vote. If you are enrolled on the Maori roll you forego your right to vote in general seats. Therefore, Maori votes mean as much as Pakeha votes.

If I complain you call me a red neck racist.

I call you a redneck racist when you spread this sort of racist rubbish.

You have a race based Maori caucus in parliament which includes the Maori members from all parties. It concerns itself with protecting and advancing Maori values, not party political values.

Another outright lie. Such a caucus does not exist and never has.  

If whites or any other ethnic group had a multi party parliamentary caucus that dealt with the advancement of its own race or for whites only, and not politics we would be called racist.

You do – it’s called the National Party/Act Party alliance.

You also want to appoint your own representation on Local bodies and demand the granting of special seats or privilege.

Maori are a special interest group. For example, the ward system is used to acknowledge special interests groups or areas of interest (e.g. localities). Maori have a special interest in the use of resources etc… therefore, we need systems to ensure our interests are heard. Often times Maori interests are relegated at local government level.

If there were seats on any local body that were just for whites only there would be great cries of racism.

Again, they’re called general seats and 99% of the time Pakeha hold these seats.

You have a flag of your own, which you insist be recognised and flown alongside the flag of our country.

Of “our” country. Are you implying this country isn’t my country too? New Zealand was built on the back of the oppression of Maori. New Zealand would not be in the same position if it wasn’t for previous governments stealing Maori land, exploiting Maori labour, sending us off to fight dubious wars and so on and so on. What is wrong with having a Maori flag anyway? Where is the harm and/or the offence? Either perceived or real?

This illustrates your separateness and division from the rest of New Zealanders.

No, it illustrates our pride and our rejuvenation and your fear. If that threatens you, then that is due to your own insecurities. I hate the argument that we are all one people. We are not. Maori will always be Maori. We don’t want to adopt your culture and assimilate. We are Maori first and New Zealanders second. If you can’t live with that, tough.  

If a white person flew and demanded recognition of a competitive flag for New Zealand, it would be tantamount to Treason.

Incorrect. Many New Zealanders believe the current New Zealand flag is outdated and due to be replaced. We seem to have a robust debate about changing the flag every year and the debate is never labelled treasonous. Just think of the All Blacks flag and the Black Silver Fern flag. Both are more popular at sport matches than the current flag.  

There are a number of openly proclaimed Maori schools and Colleges in New Zealand. Maori colleges and high schools specifically for Maori students.

Kura Kaupapa Maori are open to all New Zealanders. The difference is that the curriculum is taught in Maori. How can these schools be specifically for Maori when they are open to everyone and the same western curriculum is delivered (only the medium is different).

Yet if there were 'Whites Only colleges', they would be racist colleges.

This is an unfair analogy because there are no such thing as Maori only schools. But anywho, think of St Cuthberts, Kings College, Christs College and Carmel College – these are just a few of hundreds of schools that are, for all intents and purposes, by Pakeha for Pakeha.

If whites had scholarships, college funds and Trusts that only gave white students  Scholarships, you know they’d be racists.

Pakeha do have scholarships, college funds and trusts they can dip into. They may not be exclusive, but the opportunity is still there. Now I have never heard of a Maori college fund (I doubt they even exist), but I do know of Maori Trusts that give out money to beneficiaries. Again, they are not exclusively Maori. If a Pakeha beneficiary is registered on the Trusts beneficiaries list then they too can apply for grants. Maori Turst grants exist thanks to the foresight and generosity of our tipuna. Where Pakeha Trusts usually exist for the benefit of an individual or a small grouping, Maori Trusts exist for the collective benefit of the hapu and the Iwi. These Trusts are not creatures of the State – they are by Maori for Maori, but not exclusively Maori, Pakeha can receive benefits too (provided they are registered to the Trust). Maori scholarships, the state funded ones, are a form of positive discrimination. They exist to correct the disadvantage Maori face. Pakeha don’t need them because they are not affected by historical and contemporary disadvantage (I will accept that working class Pakeha face a disadvantage though).   

You expect whites and other New Zealanders to ignore your special tax payer funded educational institutions and when we complain or say you should teach your language and culture in the home as other races do you call us racists.

Teaching in the home isn’t an option because your ancestors suppressed and stolen our culture.

Who pays for the running of Maori colleges?

Maori pay tax too, dipshit.

You have Government funded race based Kohango Reo’s [pre-schools] to teach your race your own language and even have transport to pick the children up.

Te Kohanga Reo are open to all. Pakeha have government funded preschools to teach Pakeha children te reo Pakeha and they are so numerous that there are several within walking distance of most Pakeha homes.

You have Maori Health Services. Special organisations within the taxpayer funded public health system which are run by Maori for only Maori. If whites asked for such special and separatist privileges from the health services they would be racists.

Yes, this has more to do with practicalities than anything else. Maori are more comfortable been treated in a culturally appropriate setting (as are Pakeha e.g. surveys find that people are more comfortable with health professionals of their own race). If the health system wants to tackle Maori health problems then the best way is to do so is to create systems where Maori feel comfortable utilising services. It is a preventative measure. Better to get Maori into primary health care than wait until they need treatment in the emergency room.

You have a Maori TV channel funded by the New Zealander taxpayer. If there was a Whites only TV or if whites said Maori should fund their own TV, they would be called racists.

Take the example of TV3. The faces are Pakeha, the language is Pakeha, the culture is Pakeha, everything about TV3 (and every other mainstream channel) is Pakeha. TV exists for Pakeha and by Pakeha.

If we consider that an over representation of a language that the rest of us don’t want to learn, we are called racists.

If we had any organisations, schools, trusts, and governmental groups TV stations, etc for whites only to advance OUR lives, we'd be racists. A white woman cannot be Maori sportswoman of the year, but any race can be New Zealand sportswoman of the year. A white person cannot be in the Maori All blacks or any Maori sporting team, but any colour can be in the All Blacks or any New Zealand sports team. This separatism is decidedly racist but if a white person comments on it they are labelled racist...

This entire argument relies on us buying into the argument that mainstream institutions do not further the dominant culture. The reality is that all these institutions reflect and perpetuate the dominant culture which is western culture. Pakeha culture.  

You rob us, convert our cars, rape our women and bash our elderly. But, if a white police officer shoots a  Maori or a Maori gang member, or assaults a Maori criminal running from the law and posing a threat to society, you scream racism.

This person holds a lot of hate.

You are proud to be Maori and you're not afraid to announce it, even though you may not be full Maori, but part Maori, or even only ‘trace element’ Maori, but when we announce our white pride, you call us racists.

Measuring Maori identity in blood quantity is flawed and inconsistent with notions of Maori identity. Your whakapapa makes you Maori. Even if the tipuna is distant, if you can point towards your whakapapa then you can claim Maori identity – no matter what. It doesn’t matter if the tipuna appears far away in your family tree – if the tipuna is there you can claim your identity as a Maori. You can announce your “white” pride whenever you want too. No one is ever chastised for announcing there pride in, for example, their Scottish heritage. In fact, it is encouraged. Everyone should have pride in where they come from – Maori know this and practise this and, therefore, do not hold it against anyone.    

Why is it that only whites can be racists? There is nothing improper about this e-mail. It’s all true.

Another lie. This email is filled with inaccuracies, misrepresentations, lies and poison.

The great gravy train, a.k.a the Waitangi grievance Industry, has hopefully nearly finished it's work of judging events of 160 years ago through today’s eyes and making compensation awards in today’s money so now is the time to stop and ask:   Do we want a privileged group enjoying special favour for no rational reason, or do we want racial equality in New Zealand with fairness and equal privilege for all.

Treaty Settlements are about making right the wrong, much like the criminal justice system. It is about ensuring equality – levelling the playing field if you will.

There is nothing improper about this e-mail.........

And you’re not a racist, yeah right.

so let's see which of you care enough to send it on. Think about this ... If you don't want to forward this for fear of offending someone – THEN YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM! It's not a crime to be white YET.. but it's getting very close!

It is a privilege to be “White” in our biased and monocultural society.

It’s sad that attitudes like this exist. However, in a free thinking society there is no way of stopping this sort of rubbish. The most depressing thing about this chain email is that the sentiments expressed are, in my opinion, held by a huge segment of the population. New Zealand is a deeply ignorant society. Having said that, New Zealanders are rarely racist on a personal level, most New Zealanders won’t prejudge you because you’re Maori, but they will judge your people as a whole. New Zealanders are fair, but stupid. 

This email plays on people's base fears and is, therefore, wildly effective. The messages are carefully aimed and given without context. It is all face value stuff that does not require thought, only acknowledgement. It one thing scares Pakeha it is the thought that Maori progress threatens their place in society. In reality Maori progress will benefit Pakeha, but some Pakeha want to keep their privilege closed. Sad.  

Sep 16, 2011

Bradford for Mana

Sue Bradford has finally confirmed she will stand in Waitakere. From the NZ Herald:

Former Green MP Sue Bradford will stand for the Mana Party in Waitakere - but will seek the party vote only to increase Labour's chances of taking the seat back from National's Paula Bennett.

Ms Bradford was formally selected by Mana to stand in the seat yesterday.

She said there was a risk she would split the vote on the left, but she intended to make it clear she only wanted the party vote for Mana in the electorate.

This is part of Mana’s media strategy: Stand high profile candidates in tight electorates and, consequently, generate continuous headlines. Given that Mana missed out on broadcast funding failed to apply, they needed to investigate other ways to generate publicity.

Sue will be ranked at number four (Annette will be two and John Minto three). Sue will be a useful addition to Mana. Hone and Annette are primarily concerned with tino rangatiratanga, Matt McCarten and his people are primarily concerned with revolutionary politics and economic reform, Sue, however, is concerned with bread and butter social justice issues, for example restoring benefits to a humane level.

Hopefully Sue pushes Mana to take up a formal position on issues like abortion, gay marriage and women’s rights.     

Sep 15, 2011

Willie Jackson stands down

This is unfortunate news:

Labour's Tamaki Makaurau candidate Shane Jones says the absence of broadcaster Willie Jackson from the line-up shouldn't affect November's outcome.
After months of flying kites, the former Alliance MP yesterday announced he would not stand on the Mana Party ticket because it's likely his presence in the race would guarantee a Labour victory.
Mr Jones says it was always going to be a two horse race between Maori Party leader Pita Sharples and himself, and he's not surprised Mr Jackson is out. 

I’ve always thought Willie could snatch the seat. I think Willie knew he stood a real chance, but he would rather carry on with his sweet gigs at Radio Live, Radio Waatea, Maori TV and the Manukau Urban Maori Authority. Why re-enter the fray when your life after politics is, perhaps, more rewarding than your life in politics. Staying out of the race also gives Willie more time for his family.

The focus now turns to Shane Jones. Can he, in light of Pita and the Maori Party’s poor performance, unseat a Minister and snatch an unlikely victory for Labour.

Sep 14, 2011

Iwi and Social Housing

When the government looks to shrink the state they always pass the ball to Iwi. From RNZ:

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says iwi organisations would do a better job than Housing New Zealand, when it comes to social housing.

Housing New Zealand is now limiting the work staff have done in the past to help tenants with other needs, saying its role is purely that of landlord.

Mrs Turia says the Government is looking at divesting itself of social housing, or much of it, and iwi should step in.

Iwi are not social services agencies, having said that Iwi do have social obligations to their people. The question is how far do those obligations extend and, in the absence of money and know how, do those obligations still stand? In my opinion, Iwi are obligated to provide the basics. Things like social housing, food banks and traditional education (think tikanga courses etc). Iwi are not, in my opinion, obligated to provide what is traditionally thought of as state support (think the unemployment benefit, DPB etc). I always get annoyed when the government seeks to devolve their responsibilities - it's a remission and, to be honest, a bloody cop out.

Iwi should not be providing services at their own expense – the government should fund Iwi services – rather Iwi should deliver services. However, this is problematic. Firstly, Iwi lack the economies of scale to provide what, for example, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) can. Iwi also lack experience in social service delivery, some Iwi lack proven policy models and Iwi lack access to external agencies (for example MSD can coalesce with the Ministry of Education if need be – it is far more difficult for Iwi to do this). Some Iwi also seem reluctant to launch into social service delivery with many Iwi, most notably Tainui, focussing on growing their asset base. Although there are some exceptions, most notably Ngati Awa.

Privatisation is a great way to shrink the state, but a shit way to achieve positive outcomes. Profit motive should never be allowed to permeate the delivery of social services. The focus shifts from achieving positive outcomes to achieving positive earnings. In any society housing is an essential utility and when housing is, for one reason or another, unattainable, the government should provide a safety net. The private sector is not bound or influenced by any social imperative, unless you consider profit motive a social imperative, and must consider profit above all else. This conflict between social imperative and profit suggests that the private sector is unsuited to providing housing for those who cannot pay market price. This is why I am suspicious of the devolution of government responsibility (i.e. privatisation). However, Iwi are not exactly private sector companies, they are tribal organisations with concrete cultural obligations to their people. This is why I think Iwi will make a good go of it, or at least I hope they will. 

Sep 13, 2011

Maori Council, John Key and Maori Business

Mita Ririnui has something interesting to say about the Maori Council:

Labour list MP Mita Ririnui says it's likely the New Zealand Maori Council will merge with the Iwi Leaders Forum.

The Maori Affairs Select Committee looked at how the Maori Council operates, during its last year into the Maori Development Act.

It found that the council has played a crucial role in representing the interests of Maori, but there are concerns it's become redundant with other Maori groups taking over that work.

Mr Ririnui, who's on the committee, says it may be productive for the council to join the Iwi Leaders Forum.

The Maori Council is becoming increasingly irrelevant. The Iwi Leaders Forum (ILF) is now the vehicle of choice for the National Government. If Mita’s comments are indicative of feeling within Labour, or at least the Maori Caucus, then I think the ILF will be cemented as the Maori organisation of choice for consultation, research opportunities, ppp’s and so on. If this happens then there will be no room for the Maori Council. It is convenient for the government to have a one-stop shop for external advice on Maori issues. It also suits the government when that organisation is ideologically sympathetic and, in the case of the Nat’s and asset sales, supportive of a key policy plank. For an in depth discussion re the nature of the ILF see this post on the “Iwi Elite” from earlier in the year.


I don’t care really care that the Prime Minister did not use te reo in his opening speech at the RWC opening ceremony. His staff obviously overlooked it and Key himself probably doesn’t give the content of such a pedestrian speech much thought. I’ve always imagined that Key just parrots the lines he receives. Having said that, it is personally embarrassing for Key to ignore the use of te reo, which is such an integral part of New Zealand identity, when the head of the IRB, a Frechman no less, uses te reo with some skill and grace. On the whole, Maori can stand proud given the important role we played in the opening ceremony. The highlight for me was the waka fleet – it was a majestic scene.


From RNZ:

The newly appointed Head of Maori Business for the Bank of New Zealand, Pierre Tohe, says there is plenty of economic activity to chase beyond the corporate arms of iwi.

Maori business continues to grow steadily. In most cases Iwi are involved in some way or another, but independent Maori businesses are beginning to grow. Off of the top of my head I can think of several small and successful independent Maori businesses, but I don’t think Maori have anything on the medium scale yet. The corporate arms of Iwi could, by my definition, be termed medium sized corporates. I think Maori business will come of age when we move away from profiting off of government contracts and instead move towards playing a greater role in the private sector.

Sep 12, 2011

Racism and power

Marty at Mars 2 Earth delivers a powerful post:

To be upfront - I don't rate John Tamihere and that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the good he has done for Māori - I just feel the negatives outweigh the positives - Tamihere doesn't speak for me. Which is what he says about Professor Mutu and that is why he entitled his post "Mutu doesn't speak for me". Tamihere calls Professor Mutu a reverse racist and I don't care about that because as I have mentioned, racism = prejudice + power and if you think a Māori woman within academia has power you would be incorrect. So the worst that anyone can say about Professor Mutu is that she is prejudiced and I have no issue with that. Tamihere makes this statement

I also rate the positive work John Tamihere has done for Maori, but I – like Marty – disagree with the thrust of Tamihere’s piece. Having said that, I do not share Marty’s definition of racism. Racism is an unfortunately subjective term. My definition of racism does not include power as a precondition. I can hold prejudice and perpetuate prejudice without holding power. I may need power to further racism in a significant way, but on a day to day level I do not need power to be a racist. If I were to say “all Asians are bad drivers” what does that make me? I think it makes me a racist. Or am I just stating a truism? No, I am furthering a racial stereotype based on my own unfounded prejudices – I think that makes it racism.

So what are you saying john - that everyone is tangata whenua now - if they have lived on their land for 3 generations, because if you are - you are wrong. We are all guests in this country at times - if you visit a new marae you are a guest, if you travel to another area you are a guest - guest isn't a swear word it is a term of honour because of the reciprocity of obligation and responsibility attached to it. This term 'ethnic supremacy' is also inflammatory and incorrect - it is not about supremacy it is about equality and any Māori who frames it incorrectly is treated with suspicion by me.

Marty is right. Pakeha are not tangata whenua, read indigenous. Pakeha are New Zealanders and this is their place, but Pakeha do not share the same interests as Maori. We all share this country and it is as much mine as it is my Pakeha flatmates, but my place in Aotearoa is different. For example, I have unique interests in the whenua given my whakapapa i.e. As a Maori I have an obligation to exercise kaitiakitanga over the lands of my tipuna (the same tipuna who settled this land before anyone else).

Like I said last week, I have no appetite for debating Professor Mutu’s call. The racists on both sides ensure reason is forgotten and poison introduced. New Zealand needs to mature before we can deal with this subject adequately.  

Annette Sykes will stand

I am pleased to confirm that Annette Sykes will contest the Waiariki seat for Mana.


Sep 9, 2011

Willie Jackson for Tamaki Makarau

I admire Tim Selwyn’s analysis of Maori politics, but I feel he misses the mark today:

Willy Jackson has been a stronger advocate for a compromise between Maori and Mana parties than he has been an advocate and activist for the Mana Movement.

This is true. However, one has to understand that any overt activism on Willie’s part will compromise his chances of securing subsequent seasons of his show political show, Newsbites, as well as his daily program on Radio Live. Secondly, but more importantly, any political activism Willie undertakes will hurt the chances of the Manukau Urban Maori Authority, of which he is the CEO, from securing social services contracts. Seriously - don’t underestimate the vindictiveness of the Tory’s and their Maori Party mates. Thirdly, you can not begrudge Willie for advocating for the sensible option. In terms of increasing Maori political power, the best approach was a joint effort in the Maori seats. Mana would target the party vote while the Maori Party would target the electorate vote. It made more sense for Willie, who is in a position of authority and influence, to push for that option before committing exclusively to Mana.   

His vacillation over standing against Pita Sharples and Shane Jones in the Tamaki Makaurau Electorate will not serve him well I would have thought. Partly it may have been out of political courtesy to give these impressions, but it is difficult to tell if Willy has the fire in the belly to win Tamaki Makaurau.

I largely agree with this statement. It is very late in the piece and that isn’t helpful. Conventional wisdom would, perhaps, dictate that in order to win an electorate a year long effort is required. Then again, Willie isn’t any old candidate.

I don't know Stephanie Harawira (who has put her name forward for the nomination) so I don't know what her chances of selection are if a big name like Willy should stand.

My understanding is that the other interested candidates have agreed to step aside should Willie decide to stand. However, were Harawira to remain in the race I doubt she will win the nomination.

My feeling is that Willy is just not going to be a hard enough candidate against Pita or Shane to take the seat because he has too much personal respect for both men and this will dull the edge. Even with a huge swing from Maori Party to Mana it is a big ask. It will be interesting what the radical elements in the proliferation of Mana branches in Auckland have to say.

Willie’s views are far-left, the thing is that he is an expert when it comes to massaging the message and presenting a mainstream face. He can do radical when the situation demands. What we see of Willie in public nowadays is, for want of a better term, mainstream and acceptable to many New Zealanders. This is because the situation demands a non-threatening face. Can you imagine Radio Live hiring a Maori radical? Or TVNZ agreeing to run Eye to Eye? Willie can do radical and he will if he runs.

If Willie decides to stand his campaign manager will be John Tamihere. At the last election Pita largely relied on Willie, John and their networks. This was the case in 2005 as well. Now that both men and their networks have moved on I struggle to see how Pita will manage to run a worthy campaign. He has next to no experienced people behind him and he is, in my opinion, a politician lacking nous and any sort of pulling power. He may charm the kuia at Hoani Waititi, but he doesn’t do so well with rangatahi and male voters.

Shane’s team will not pose a challenge for Willie’s experienced and soldier-heavy team. Willie is an institution among Auckland Maori. He is, as Hone Harawira once told me, the quintessential urban Maori. Willie is also, and I am only speculating here, held in higher esteem among the union movement.

Before a Mana candidate can stand they must commission a poll and that poll must show that they have a realistic chance. If Willie decides to stand that means his private polling shows he is in with a real chance. The only public poll we can rely on, and only slightly, is the Horizon Poll from earlier this year. The poll showed a massive swing from Pita Sharples to Shane Jones. I commented at the time that it was a reflex backlash against the Maori Party’s support for the Nat’s, but more particularly the MCA Act. The voters swung behind Shane because he was the default option, not because Tamaki Makaurau had all of a sudden come back to Labour (in fact Auckland is, at the moment at least, a National stronghold). Were Willie a factor at the time I would pick that the swing would naturally move to him. Willie shares more in common, both policy wise and personality wise, with Pita. Shane is somewhat converse to both Pita and Willie.

Should Willie stand Tamaki Makaurau will be one of the most interesting contests. I am not going to call it for anyone at the moment because it is too close, for now at least. Once things become clearer I will produce a comprehensive analysis and call the result – maybe even endorse a candidate.

Sep 8, 2011

Flavell swings behind Tuhoe

The Maori Party are coming down strong on the, for want of a better term, Urewera issue. From RNZ:

The Maori MP for Bay of Plenty is talking to the Tuhoe tribe about taking a new claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, arguing the police 2007 raids in Ruatoki breached the Treaty of Waitangi.

The member for Waiariki, Te Ururoa Flavell, says the Crown should be answerable, particularly for the way people were innocently caught up in the actions - and for those who've now had charges against them dropped.

The Maori Party MP says his caucus and Tuhoe are looking for more than an apology.
He says he and his colleagues have talked about compensation, given some people have had to bear the brunt of criticism and the stigma associated with the raids.

Mr Flavell says the issue is so big his party is looking into asking for a commission of inquiry of some kind.

At the conclusion of this saga a commission of inquiry will be mandatory – whether the remaining defendants are found guilty or not. I think the option of civil suits is closed in this instance, I certainly don’t say that with certainty though. Te Ururoa has highlighted two options for some kind of relief/accountability (a commission of inquiry and the Waitangi Tribunal) and other options exist as well including the Independent Police Conduct Authority. On another note it amazes me that Helen Clark, Michael Cullen and the then Police Minister (Annette King I think it was) have managed to escape criticism for their role in approving the raids and subsequent legal battle. Surely the buck stops at the top, and this went straight to the Prime Ministers Office.

I expect to see Hone Harawira dive all over this issue. Tuhoe is one of Maoridom’s staunchest Iwi, if not the staunchest, and is Mana’s for the taking. However, if Hone remains quiet and leaves the issue to Te Ururoa Tuhoe may not tag along with Mana so willing. Tuhoe people have long memories. This is where Mana needs someone like Annette Sykes and her skills as a lawyer and as a wahine toa.

Sep 6, 2011

Breaking News: Charges dropped against "Urewera 15"

All firearms charges have been dropped against the so called "Urewera 15". This is an embarrassing back down from the Police, but the correct outcome. I am pleased and the Maori world is pleased. The decision comes after the Supreme Court ruled certain evidence inadmissible, therefore overruling previous judgments from the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Criminal charges have hung over the heads of the defendants for over four years causing massive emotional trauma including relationship breakdowns and bankruptcy. Justice has finally come for 11 members of the group, but four members, including Tame Iti, will face the minor charge of participating in a criminal group. No doubt this is in an attempt to save face, but also smash Tame Iti and co. who are no friends of the system. Hopefully, the pigs run into all the criticism they deserve for pursuing what was, from the very beginning, a wild fantasy.   

Maori Trade Training will return under Labour

Maori have a proud history in the trades. Under former Maori Trade Training schemes thousands of Maori men, and also women, passed through vocational training and into employment. Maori involvement with trade training began in 1944 under the first Labour Government and continued in various forms up until 1989. The scheme provided opportunities to increase Maori employment and Maori economic potential. According to research from Massey University (not online) 90% of Maori trade training graduates were placed in apprenticeships and many then went on to start their own business or enter higher education. With this in mind it is encouraging to see Labour commit to offering 1000 places in a new Maori Trade Training scheme. Labour’s new scheme will feature partnerships between tertiary providers, Iwi and key industry organisations. Labour has also signalled that pastoral care and mentoring will distinguish the program.

Places will be open to 16 and 17 year olds. The program will, in my opinion, offer a smooth transition from school to training for early school leavers.

With the disaster in Christchurch skilled tradespeople are in high demand and New Zealand’s labour market does not have the capacity to respond. Hopefully, Labour’s commitment to trade training will train enough tradespeople to service Christchurch while maintaining capacity in other centres.

As the election approaches we can probably expect to see more policy drops. The way things are shaping up Maori may have a real reason to vote Labour.

Trouble in Tainui continues

The public spat between Tania Martin and Tuku Morgan continues with Tania Martin issuing a press release affirming her position that Tuku was disqualified from Te Kauhanganui (TK). Last month TK voted on a resolution to disqualify Tuku Morgan from TK and Te Arataura. 30 Marae voted in favour of the resolution, 27 against, two abstained and six votes were deemed invalid.

Both parties have obtained separate legal opinions and both opinions put forward a different interpretation of the rules. Tuku Morgan’s opinion (which I have viewed) claims that in order to disqualify Tuku more than 50% of the 65 Marae must affirm the motion, therefore Tuku remains as the threshold is 33 while only 30 affirmed the motion. I gather that Tania Martin’s opinion, from leading firm Chen and Palmer, holds that the threshold is 50% of the valid votes cast, therefore 30 votes is enough carry the resolution.

Given the debate’s descent in to the legalistic you imagine the issue is headed for the Courts.   

Sep 5, 2011

MWWL, David Rankin and Billboards

I’ve missed a bit of news over the past few days so I’ll briefly comment on a few issues in this post:


Hannah Tamaki has failed in her bid for the presidency of the Maori Women’s Welfare League. From Radio New Zealand

The new national president of the Maori Women's Welfare League (Kataraina O’Brien) says the co-founder of Destiny Church, Hannah Tamaki, who was also vying for the role, did not go about things in the right way.

This, I think, is true. Hannah Tamaki took an unorthodox approach to her campaign. Previous campaigns for the presidency have been, for want of a better term, discrete. However, Tamaki took a glamorous approach to her campaign producing professional campaign material and travelling the country attending league functions and so on. In my opinion this gave her an unfair advantage over the less well-known and less wealthy candidates. Hannah Tamaki also appeared in the media, on numerous occasions, and passed comment on her bid and the League’s attempts to stymie her. The precedent is for members to keep contentious issues within the league and refrain from commenting to the media. Tamaki, quite clearly, departed from this precedent.

I think this is the best outcome for the League. Hannah Tamaki’s bid has reenergised the otherwise declining movement. It would not have been in anyone’s interest for Tamaki to win – I know if she had of won over the weekend a vote of no confidence would have been moved immediately. This would have divided the league even further.


David Rankin has opened his mouth again, this time labelling Margaret Mutu a racist after Mutu called for a restriction on white immigration. From

Mutu's controversial comments came in response to a Department of Labour report which found Maori are more likely to express anti-immigration sentiment than Pakeha or any other ethnic group. 

The head of the university's department of Maori studies, Mutu agreed with the findings and called on the Government to restrict the number of white migrants arriving from countries such as South Africa, England and the United States as they brought attitudes destructive to Maori. 

Firstly, I agree that some white immigrants bring racist attitudes, however restricting “white immigration” is probably, and I do not want to devolve into semantics, racist. Certainly Joris De Bres, the Race Relations Commissioner, seems to agree. In a free society people are entitled to their own views - even if those views are repugnant. There is no infallible mechanism to prevent racist migrants from coming to Aotearoa and I suspect Professor Mutu knows this. In my opinion, this is not a debate worth having. The racists from both sides, Maori and Pakeha, will ensure any debate turns toxic while the clowns like David Rankin will add legitimacy to anti-Maori sentiment.


I covered a fair chunk of the country over the past week and made a few election-related observations. Firstly, Labour MP Sue Moroney’s billboards dominate Hamilton West. I didn’t see anything from the incumbent Tim Macindoe. Sue probably stands little chance of winning the seat given the way the party vote went in the previous election and Labour’s current performance in the polls. Hamilton West, and Hamilton East too, are considered bellwether seats. Nearly every party since 1972 that has won both seats has gone on to form the government. In my opinion Hamilton is a very rural city. Hamilton services the Waikato hinterland (i.e. the farms which make up most of the Waikato) and this pro-National hinterland probably influences the political leanings of Hamilton residents. Having said that, Hamilton West, in contrast to Hamilton East, is quite working class and the seat has been held by Labour on more than a few occasions. So maybe I am too slow to write off Sue.

I was also in the Hawkes Bay and couldn’t drive more than a kilometre without coming across a National Party billboard. Either National is recycling the “building brighter futures” line or some enthusiastic supporters are erecting signs from the last election. The Maori Party candidate, Na Rongowhakata Raihania, also had a few billboards which were, to be honest, visual chaos. Too many colours, the contrast was too sharp and his name is too long. Good to see he has got a head start over the competition though. Labour’s signs were also prominent in the Manawatu, especially in the small towns surrounding Palmerston North. Palmerston North is the only rural seat Labour holds and you would expect them to put in a big effort to retain it.