Nov 30, 2011

triple threat

A few thoughts on Closeup’s interview with the main contenders for the Labour leadership:


Easily the strongest. Cunliffe was the most relaxed, concise and prepared. He also varied his tone and expression well. Cunliffe wisely played to his strengths intelligently identifying one of his weaknesses as a tendency to call “a spade a spade”. Of course this isn’t a weakness in the eyes of 90% of New Zealanders – it’s only a weakness in the eyes of Labour’s, and I hate using this term, PC brigade. However, Cunliffe could be perceived as smug, but hell he’s nowhere near as smug as Simon Bridges and the high priest of smug Steven Joyce.


Parker stumbled early. A little stiff, which is to be expected, but unlike most he didn’t seem to loosen up as the night progressed. Strangely Parker kept claiming he can “touch people”. I thought that was a strange way to say he can connect with New Zealanders. Surprisingly, according to Parker he has no weaknesses as a leader. Wow. In the face of Labour’s massive defeat humility will go a long way. Someone should tell Parker.


I love Shearer’s story, but he didn’t look ready tonight. Under prepared and not very good off the cuff. That can be fixed though. Easy. Ultimately, he didn’t seem to ooze, for want to a better description, gravitas. Cunliffe and Parker looked and sounded more like leaders in waiting. Shearer, rightly in my opinion, focussed on the fact he’ll be different from the Clark government and he brings a fresh face. But I don't think that was enough in the face of his constantly stumbling. He was always searching for answers rather than firing them out.


He conducted a very blunt interview.

Finally, the txt poll had Shearer on top with 50%. Understandable. Cunliffe polled second and Parker third. On tonight's performance I'm backing Cunliffe. Shearer a close second and Parker a distant third. For me, the ideal ticket is Cunliffe as leader, Shane Jones as deputy, Parker at finance with Robertson, Ardern, Mahuta, Shearer, Twyford, Hipkins and Dalziel rounding out the top 10. 

Nov 29, 2011

Mark Solomon on asset sales

Ngai Tahu’s Mark Solomon joined Kathryn Ryan today in discussing asset sales. Here’s the link. Solomon outlined Ngai Tahu’s thinking on asset sales (as well as the broader Iwi leaders position). I found the following quite interesting: Solomon informed us that at the beginning of National’s first term he and other iwi leaders, by other iwi leaders I assume he means Tuku Morgan, met John Key, Bill English and other senior members of Cabinet. Presumably they met to talk about treaty settlements (relativity clause maybe?) and broader Maori issues. It should be noted the iwi leaders were accompanied by Pita Sharples which indicates that the Maori Party were working to open doors for iwi. Then again I think Ngai Tahu have used Saunders Unsworth in the past so it could be their work. Anyway, in the discussions Key said the government was cash strapped. In response Solomon put forward the idea of asset sales. Apparently he was rebutted with Key informing him that asset sales are off limits in the first term, however Key (or whoever) indicated their willingness to explore the sales in the second term. So it appears that iwi were interested in asset sales before the idea was floated publicly, or at least confirmed publicly. I think this is interesting.

Rino Tirikatene pointed out last night on Native Affairs that iwi should be exercising some entrepreneurial thought rather than relying on the government floating safe assets for them. I agree.

Solomon also acknowledged during the interview that individually iwi cannot hope to become major players; however Solomon holds that iwi can become major players as a collective. He argues iwi could obtain between 10-15% of any assets. This is optimistic, especially given Ngai Tahu’s position as a major infrastructure investor in Christchurch. I don’t think they have the ability to dip into state assets as well as infrastructure in Christchurch. The only other iwi with the financial clout to participate is Tainui, but they’re sinking a lot of money in to other commercial ventures like shopping malls (Te Awa, the Hamilton CBD etc).

Solomon, who I should note seems to be leading the asset sales charge instead of Tuku, believes iwi are the perfect buyers. Long term investors with exclusive interests in New Zealand. This is hard to argue with I guess. However, the other arguments against iwi involvement in asset sales still stand. For example, asset sales will, in all likelihood, lead to a decrease in government services. Iwi, as “major” investors, surely have an obligation to negate the effects of decreased services on Maori. However, iwi don’t have the economies of scale (nor the experience for that matter) to provide what government once did.

Ngai Tahu, and to a lesser extent Tainui, are positioning themselves well. For example Tainui, apparently, own half of the Tainui CBD. Nagi Tahu are positioning themselves to take a similar position in Christchurch. In fact Ngai Tahu own large tracts of the South Island (including many rural stations). The next step is for iwi is a slice of New Zealand’s strategic resources. Power companies are the obvious, and cheapest, choice. The first step essentially. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ngai Tahu make a move for a stake in Christchurch Airport. Tainui already own and operate the only hotel at Auckland Airport and the natural progression from there is a stake in the airport itself. Apparently Tainui’s biggest interest is in Air New Zealand at the moment.

Both Ngai Tahu and Tainui have a relativity clause. When they invoke the clause I think we could see them become huge players in the New Zealand economy.

Native Affairs post-election special

If you didn’t watch Native Affairs last night, you should. In their last show for the year, and probably the best of the year, Julian and Annabelle hosted a raft of MPs and a brilliant panel (minus Mike King who was pretty bad).

Julian interviewed Pita Sharples, Winston Peters, Hone Harawira, Shane Jones, Meteria Turei, Rino Tirikatene, Simon Bridges and Louisa Wall. Annabelle discussed the interviews with Sandra Lee, Matt McCarten and Mike King. I don’t want to have a moan about Mike King, but I can’t let it slide that following Meteria’s interview King admitted to having never seen Meteria in action before. Even worse King then proceeded to speak of Meteria as if he’s never seen a sharp Maori women nor ever expected to see one. Prior to that King was salivating all over Winston again, just like he did on Saturday night.

Anyway, Pita Sharples came across as despondent. He found himself having to defend why the Maori Party lost a seat, had their party vote slashed and majorities in their remaining electorates slashed. Pita did have the good sense to admit the party’s relationship with National contributed to, or is still contributing to, the decline of the Maori Party.

Winston was, well he was Winston. Hugely charismatic, likeable in a mischief way and abrasive. Winston touched on good themes, for example poverty and asset sales, but he reverted to attacking the media when it wasn’t justified. He tried to dump Maori TV in the same basket as the mainstream media which was, in my opinion, patently unfair and a great way to burn bridges. After all, the Maori media have given Winston fair and consistent coverage.

Hone, true to form, gave a good interview. He was upfront and he added a dash of humour. Nothing really stood out.

Shane Jones. What a waste. The panel pointed out Shane was the first Labour MP to give an honest account of their loss. He didn’t sugar coat it, he didn’t repeat Labour’s lines, he called it as he saw it. 3 out 4 New Zealanders didn’t vote Labour (discounting the one million who didn’t vote) and that’s a problem they need to address.

Meteria Turei was the best performer of the night. As Mike King found out, Meteria is hugely intelligent, incredibly articulate and she’s pretty charismatic. The best Maori leader in Parliament in my opinion. Every thing was to the point and she didn’t deviate from the script.

Rino was given a soft interview and still seems like the win is yet to sink in. Julian almost caught Rino out when he put the proposition to him that would he support Ngai Tahu if they want to snap up SOEs. Rino seemed surprised and quickly stated Labour’s position.

Simon Bridges and Louisa Wall appeared together. Both MPs won huge majorities in their respective electorates. Louisa is the first Maori woman from Labour to win a general electorate and Simon is one of National’s best, no the best, Maori MP. Yes, better than Hekia Parata. In Mike King’s best call of the night he called Simon on his smugness. Mike correctly identified that NZders hate smug politicians, or smug people in general actually.The panel agreed Simon is a future leader of the National Party and maybe the first Maori Prime Minister. Agreed.

Nov 28, 2011

Parliament according to the Maori vote

Here's an interesting graphic via Robbie Ellis. It shows what Parliament would look like according to the Maori vote:

Nov 27, 2011

Bad polling

I posted this in the comments section of another post, however I think it deserves a wider audience so I've copied and pasted here. These are the poll results from the election period Te Karere Digipolls compared with the actual results. Like I've said earlier, it shows that the polls were well out. I've rounded the numbers and have only included the main candidates.

Te Tai Tokerau:

Digipoll – Hone 42
               Kelvin 35
               Waihoroi 20

Actual – Hone 43
              Kelvin 38
              Waihoroi 16

Fairly close resemblance between the poll and the actual results in this electorate. Certainly within the margin of error of 4.9% so we’ll give them this one. However...

Tamaki Makaurau: 

Digipoll – Pita 58
               Shane 23
               Kereama 14

Actual -  Pita 40
              Shane 36
              Kereama 16

This poll grossly overstated Pita Sharples’ support. Shit, it was well out. This poll did seem to confirm what many Maori political commentators were thinking though. I haven’t seen anyone come up with a satisfactory answer as to why Shane did so well. Maybe low turnout hurt Pita. With 16% of the vote Kereama Pene certainly did I guess.


No poll from Te Karere on this electorate but the Marae Digipoll from September put it like this.

Digipoll – Nanaia 59
               Angeline 18
               Tau Bruce 13

Actual – Nanaia 59
              Angeline 22
              Tau Bruce 17

A decent result from the Marae Digipoll. They correctly stated Nanaia’s support and were thereabouts with Angeline and Bruce Mataki of the Maori Party. Remember this poll did not factor in undecideds.


Digipoll – Te Ururoa 56
                Annette 22
                Louis 22

Actual –  Te Ururoa 41
               Annette 30
               Louis 23

Again, this poll was well out. Well beyond the margin of error. The poll overstated Te Ururoa’s support by a country mile. This race was tight – not the cakewalk the poll was predicting. 

Correction: I had the wrong figures before - all corrected now. 

Ikaroa Rawhiti:

There was no Te Karere poll here too, but we’ll have a look at the Marae Digipoll results.

Digipoll – Parekura 40
               Na 49
               Tawhai 1

Actual – Parekura 62
              Na 24
              Tawhai 14

Wow. I don’t think any poll in the history of mankind has ever been this out of whack. However, it should be remembered that this poll was conducted in September and they phrased the questions oddly. Something like “which party will you give your candidate vote to” instead of saying “who will you give your candidate vote to” or something like that.

Te Tai Hauauru: 
No Te Karere poll here either. However, Marae Digipoll from September comes in handy.

Digipoll – Tariana 49
                Soraya 40
                Fred Timitimu 1
                Jack (didn’t register I don’t think).

Actual –  Tariana 48
               Soraya 30
               Fred 8
               Jack 11

Tariana’s support was about right, but the poll exaggerated Soraya’s support and barely even factored Fred Timutimu. Jack McDonald didn’t even feature in the Marae poll but polled 11% and he wasn’t even going for the electorate vote.

Te Tai Tonga:

Digipoll – Rahui 46
                Rino 35
                Dora 10
                Clinton 9

Actual –  Rahui 31
               Rino 42
               Dora 15
               Clinton 8

Again, way off. Well outside the margin of error. The poll got Clinton about right, but failed miserably in predicting the correct outcome and share of the vote.

The polls in the Maori electorates have failed. Theses poll failures follow the Native Affairs Baseline poll which failed to accurately predict the share of the vote each candidate would receive in the Tai Tokerau byelection. I don’t think I can ever take a poll on the Maori electorates seriously again. To be fair, the polls were conducted late October to mid November and things change at the last minute. Polls are, of course, snapshots of a moment in time. The moment these polls were picturing was spread across a significant period of time.

Lastly, I think the other criticisms I have made of polls in the Maori electorates still stand.

On a Maori Party deal with National

Some on the left are throwing around the theory that once the special votes are counted National could drop two seats to the Greens. On past trends this is plausible. That would give National 58 seats, or 60 with Banks and Dunne, meaning the right would need the Maori Party to form a majority. The question then becomes: will the Maori Party oblige. The answer: yes.

If Maori Party agree, and I’m almost certain they would, the party would expect some heavy concessions from National. The Maori Party have had to, as the minor partner in the relationship, bear the consequences of heavy compromise. However, should the above situation eventuate the Maori Party will be in a stronger position to exact major gains.

I expect the Maori Party to demand retention of their ministerial positions and a guarantee Tariana Turia’s portfolios will pass to Te Ururoa Flavell if or when she stands down. An expansion of Whanau Ora will be the only bottom line. The Maori Party campaign revolved almost exclusively on Whanau Ora and the flow on effects the policy will have on “strengthening the whanau” and addressing problems like poverty. Whanau Ora is inclusive of a range of Maori Party policies like the Marae Hubs idea too. I expect the Maori Party to push for universal access to te reo classes in high schools. Some of the more low key policies which will be a Maori Party priority are establishing a Parliamentary Commissioner for the Treaty, reviewing Te Puni Kokiri and a commitment to implementing the recommendations of the constitutional review (given Bill English is heading the review with Sharples I expect concrete action to be taken anyway). On the subject of the constitutional review this is one of the primary reasons the Maori Party will hesitate to go with Labour – the Maori Party have a number of ongoing projects with National (both visible i.e. the review and behind the scenes with Whanau Ora and Maori education).

Asset sales will not, as both leaders have said, be a deal breaker. The Maori Party opposition to asset sales is hollow. They oppose the sales, but should they go ahead they will support iwi access. Some on the left have hoped, should the above situation eventuate, that the Maori Party block asset sales. This won’t happen. Asset sales will be a bottom line for John Key and the Maori Party will accept this when Key agrees to give preferential access to New Zealanders and New Zealand bodies (iwi, Kiwisaver schemes etc). Key came under increasing pressure in the last week of the campaign to ensure assets will stay in New Zealand hands and I don’t expect Labour and New Zealand First to allow that pressure to ease. Key will not just give preferential access to iwi. He cannot, for the sake of the ‘separatist’ vote, allow New Zealand First to cultivate the perception that National are giving Maori special treatment. However, the electorate has, I think, moved on from the separatism issue. At least the issue doesn’t hold as much salience anymore thanks to the, in Pakeha eyes, reasonable behaviour of the Maori Party and John Key’s symbolic olive branch in 2008. Giving NZders the right of pre-emption if you will satisfies both sides really. Firstly, the assets are kept in New Zealand hands (satisfying a plank where National is weak). Secondly, National will placate a powerful and increasingly friendly bloc – iwi. If National align with iwi interests I don’t doubt that iwi will begin throwing themselves behind the Tories. Certainly Labour and the Green’s platforms may hurt iwi. For example, no asset sales and water charges (iwi and countless Maori land trusts run farms with irrigation etc).

Iwi will also help determine who the Maori Party go with. The Maori Party will, and rightfully so, consult the people. However, the only people to turn up will be conservative, mainly rural Maori with connections to their Marae and Runanga. The sort of Maori who are more likely to support National and whatever is good for the Runanga. The Maori Party is no longer a party where all Maori will flock (like they were in 2005 and 2008). The Maori Party have fractured their base. Some of whom have fled to Mana while others have returned to Labour. The Green’s seem to be benefiting too.

I’m going to break with the orthodox here and suggest that another term with National may not be a death sentence. In fact, if the Maori Party play it right they could hold steady. Over the past term the Maori Party have carved out a niche. They no longer play to all Maori, but the emerging Maori middle class. A middle class that sees Maori rights as paramount, but recognise that they – as in the Maori middle class – need to breach the power structures and insert themselves where they can make change, read the Cabinet table, and this approach takes compromise. They got to the middle, and in some cases the top, by sacrificing things like their cultural values in the workplace and they analogise this to government. Often the Maori middle class comes from existing iwi power structures. Maori who were never as disenfranchised as, if I can use this metaphor, the Jake Hekes of the Maori world. I’ve said this time and again that the Maori Party and the Mana Party represent the divide between the haves and the have nots in the Maori world. The haves are iwi with their settlements and emerging middle class. The have nots are the mainly urban and some rural Maori without trusts, without settlements and sometimes without Runanga. Both groups, although working towards the same goal, embody different approaches. The have nots, who are perhaps naïve in the ways of the world, want to see rapid change and uncompromising politics. The have nots are, in my opinion, probably sick of seeing their whanaunga getting ahead well they are stubbornly stuck at the bottom. They see the way to advancement as tearing down the walls. The haves are a bit more street wise about it. They know how to manipulate the Pakeha game and will do so. Working for gradual change from the inside. Some Maori probably resent the fact that other Maori are engaging like that, but that’s an approach I support (even though I don’t support the Maori Party per se).

Anyway, I’m heading way off track here. The second niche the Maori Party have carved are conservative Maori. Maori are, in my opinion anyway, naturally conservative. Not always politically, but socially. Also on many Marae I think conservatism tends to reign. For example, a lot of Marae like to hold steadfast, and fair enough, to old traditions rather than letting those traditions change like cultures eventually do.

Back to the original topic. Assuming the Maori Party play to these groups and stem anymore bleed then they will not die. If the Maori Party can give practical effect to the line that it’s better to be at the table then survival beyond 2014 will be likely. Giving effect to this will involve tangible policy wins and a perception that the Maori Party are negating the worst effects of the global economic crisis. Of course, much, much easier said than done. If the Maori Party position themselves as a counter balance against National then the above groups will certainly see the value in keeping them around. The only situation where the Maori Party can expect to claim the counterbalance title though is if they stop asset sales, but as I said I doubt that’ll happen. For the counterbalance narrative to work the Maori Party need to stop just one, for lack of a better term, big bang nutcase policy e.g. asset sales. When Tariana abdicates her throne the Maori Party could solve their succession issue quiet easily and, thus, secure their post-2014 future too; they could put up Rahui Katene in Te Tai Hauauru. Though I don’t think she has whakapapa connection to the area which would count against her.

I didn’t intend to write anywhere near this much, so I’ll conclude essay style. The Maori Party will almost certainly renew their relationship with National. The Maori Party will expect heavier policy concessions this time around with Whanau Ora as a bottom line. Asset sales will not be a deal breaker. Iwi will determine who the Maori Party go with and another term with National will not spell death so long as the Maori Party play to their new base – the Maori middle class (of which iwi are a part) and conservative mainly older Maori. I don’t agree with what the Maori Party did last term, but I would feel assured if they were at the table this time around. I think a second term National government with a strong mandate is far scarier than a first term government with a shakier share of the vote. We could be in the shit.

Steve Chadwick resigns

Sad news from the NZ Herald:

After more than a decade in Parliament, former Rotorua MP Steve Chadwick has resigned from politics.

Mrs Chadwick quit after losing the Rotorua electorate to incumbent MP Todd McClay and failing to win a seat through the list votge.

Mrs Chadwick was generous in defeat, saying Mr McClay ran a clean campaign, but was obviously saddened at her loss.

"I'm really going to miss being in Wellington, especially since my children are down there.

"I'll be taking some time off for myself, its been 12 years, and you spend a lot of that time putting others first instead of yourself. The door's been closed for me by the people of Rotorua and I accept that."

Steve Chadwick was an excellent constituent MP for Rotorua from 1999 to 2008 and an excellent Labour list MP for Rotorua from 2008 to yesterday. Steve is one of the warmest people I have ever met. She has a beautiful aura and was a fine politician. She will be a loss to Rotorua and New Zealand. I wish her well in whatever she does. 

(It was a crime that useless deadwood nobodies like Moana Mackey, Rajen Prasad and Darien Fenton were ranked ahead of Steve).

On a related note, congratulations to Todd McClay who had his majority affirmed. Todd is also an excellent constituent MP and he will no doubt continue to serve the Rotorua electorate well.

How the Maori electorates fell

I’m packing out some fast analysis, but I don’t have much time on my hands and I want to get my thoughts out. What I’m getting at is that these conclusions are provisional, but still sensible of course, and I may change my views over time. Anyway, I’ve been pouring over the numbers booth by booth in the most interesting electorates; Te Tai Tonga, Waiariki and Tamaki Makaurau. Here is how the vote went:


As I predicted Annette won the Eastern Bay of Plenty. She thrashed Te Ururoa in Kawerau. This happened because 1) Annette grew up in Kawerau and the people know her and her whanau 2) Te Ururoa never shows his face in Kawerau 3) Kawerau is a working town/Maori radical town. Annette also won Whakatane thanks to, I think, young voter turnout and as punishment for Te Ururoa’s support for the Marine and Coastal Area’s Act (Whakatane being a coastal town after all). There are a few very young Mana activists in Whakatane who are selling the message very well.

Annette also won Torere and Raukokere convincingly and also Te Kaha. There was always going to be a swing against Te Ururoa for his silence over oil prospecting off of the coast and, as I’ve said, his support for the MCA act. Annette also won Matata (another tino rangatiratanga town). As I predicted on Pundit Annette won the periphery towns in Tuhoe territory, for example Kaingaroa and Minginui, and she ran Te Ururoa close in the Ruatoki Valley. Taneatua and Waimana fell Annette’s way too. 

However, as I said last night, it wasn’t enough to bring Annette over the line. She needed to win the bigger centres like Rotorua and Tauranga Moana. Te Ururoa won Tauranga, but it was very close with both Annette and Louis Te Kani claiming a close second in different booths. In fact, Te Kani actually won a few booths in Tauranga as did Annette, but Te Ururoa won the majority.

Where Te Ururoa won it was in Rotorua proper. Annette’s home base of Rotoiti and the more radical parts of Te Arawa, meaning Ngati Pikiao, swung behind Annette. For example Okere Falls, Rotokawa and of course Rotoiti. This was no surprise. Te Ururoa was always going to win the conservative support that characterises Te Arawa while Annette was going to win the smaller rough edges.

As I picked Tuwharetoa also fell behind Te Ururoa. He won all but one of the polling places in Taupo. Annette’s campaign team failed to really breach Tuwharetoa and incumbency and Tuwharetoa conservatism helped Te Ururoa over the line.

In summary, Annette claimed the Eastern Bay of Plenty and Tuhoe in good numbers. Te Ururoa won Te Arawa and Tuwharetoa. It was extremely close in Tauranga with Te Ururoa just pulling away. What we can say is that the tribes of the Te Arawa waka pulled Te Ururoa through. I’m going to blow my own trumpet here and highlight that I called the regions/tribal allegiances right, but…. I didn’t call the result right did I. So no bragging rights here I guess. Then again I did pull away from calling the win for Annette on Pundit.

Te Tai Tonga:

Like I said last night, Rino Tirikatene held Labour support in the South Island. Ashburton, Blenheim, Bluff and Invercargill fell Rino’s way. It was a close slog in Christchurch, but Rino also pulled away there too. Some people will be surprised with this result given Rahui’s work in the city in the wake of the quake. White flight has affected Chch, but I don't think the same trend is true of Maori so I think we can draw the conclusion that Rahui's work has 1) gone unnoticed or 2) was not as good as people were hyping.

Given Rino’s solid performance in the South Rahui had to, like she did in 2008, win Wellington in sufficient numbers, However, as I predicted (yes I hate to brag), Mana’s Clinton Dearlove stole votes from Rahui while Rino held Labour’s numbers from 2008. Couple this with Dora Langsbury’s polling in Wellington and this was enough to erode Rahui’s support sufficiently to allow Rino to maintain a healthy lead. Karori, Kelburn and parts of the Hutt fell Rahui’s way, but only just. Rino, surprisingly, won the Green Party belts of Wellington, for example Kilbernie, Hataitai and Lyall Bay. It was much closer in working class suburbs like Petone and Newton. In the 2008 election Rahui won these suburbs in large numbers. It seems as if Wellington, with our high proportion of public servants, have punished the Maori Party for their association with the public service hating National Party. The working vote also seems to be returning to Labour in response to their shift to the left. The working vote is also transferring, but in small numbers, to Mana. It’s interesting to see Aro Valley, a strong student area, fall behind Rino too.

Turnout has also worked against Rahui. With a turnout of below 60% according to Maria Bargh you can bet that many of these people who didn’t turn up with young, read Rahui’s voters.

In sum, Rahui seems to be the victim of the swing against the Maori Party. Tino rangatiratanga is not as big in Te Tai Tonga as in other electorates. Labour, and by extension social democracy, is the ideology in these parts. It was always going to be hard for her to face Rino Tirikatene who is, of course, a Tirikatene. He was hand picked by Parekura Horomia because Labour knew Te Tai Tonga was an electorate where support for the Maori Party and Rahui was soft. This assessment has held true. Despite Rahui’s work in Chch Te Tai Tonga is still a Labour electorate, or more accurately a Tirikatene electorate.

I think Rino will be an excellent MP. He’s genuine, intelligent and will now (with a Maori seat behind him) have a lot of Mana in the Maori Caucus. Rahui deserves credit, and lots of it, for her work as a local MP. Two very good candidates but only one could win. It’s also interesting to note that Rino is the first Labour MP to topple a Maori Party MP.

Tamaki Makaurau:

John Tamihere, supporting what Willie Jackson said last, reckons Shane Jones ran a “very poor” campaign. John Tamihere and Willie Jackson, as the two Maori political heavyweights in Auckland, would know too. With that in mind it’s hard to say how Shane polled so highly. I’ll put forward the following reasons: Pita suffered from a reflex backlash against the Maori Party (like Rahui and Tariana who has a reduced majority), Kereama Pene helped exacerbate this backlash and, as a result, steal many of Pita’s votes, lastly Shane is a high profile MP and he benefited from a swing towards Labour in the Maori seats. The commentators on Marae Investigates are pointing out that Labour is rising in the Maori seats. 

Unfortunately I can't bring up the candidate vote details polling place to polling place. Only the party vote details. You can possibly analogise the party vote to the candidate vote, and I will since I have nothing else to work on. Labour, and I guess Shane by extension, did very well in Manurewa, Mangere and Manukau. There is a strong Maori Labour organisation in Manurewa, with Louisa Wall of course, a strong organisation in Manukau East with Ross Robertson and Mangere with Sua William Sio. Out of interest Mana did very well in these places too. Shane also seems to have benefited from Labour’s organisation in New Lynn, Mt Roskill and Mt Albert. However, I expect in the candidate vote that Pita pulled away in central Auckland and places like Orakei. Pita’s strong support among Ngati Whatua probably pulled him through I imagine. 

This isn’t a killer blow against Shane’s career. In fact Labour need him now more than ever. Pita deserved the win though. All power to him over the next three years.

Nov 26, 2011

Labour's Maori Caucus takes a hit

Labour's Maori Caucus has taken a hit. Parekura, Nanaia and Shane remain. Rino is the only new comer. Kelvin is out and Mita Ririnui is retiring. Deborah Mahuta-Coyles is not in either. One could count Moana Mackey, who should have never ever have received such a high list placing, but she is only a Maori Caucus member on paper. So the Maori Caucus is one member down.

National, by my count, are going to bring in six Maori MPs. If you can count, and I'm sure you can, National now have more Maori MPs than Labour. I wonder if this has ever happened before.


I'm continually updating my posts so keep checking in tonight.

Quick comment on the coverage:

I flicked between TV One, TV3 and Maori TV as well as Listener Live and Vote Chat. Good job all round I think. Coverage of the Maori electorates was good on Maori TV (naturally) and strong on One as well. I'm not sure how valuable Mike King and Derek Fox were on Maori TV though. Willie Jackson and Matt McCarten were strong on One. Sandra Lee was easily the best commentator of the night (on Maori issues I mean). Jon Johansson was easily the strongest commentator on any network and Patrick Gower, who's always brilliant, was the best individual journalist. Big ups to Toby Manhire at Listener Live - man it's a useful resource. Bryce Edwards and Andrew Geddis also did an awesome job presenting alternative coverage at Vote Chat.

Maori Party in strong position... (updated)

As the results become clearer the Maori Party are not Kingmakers, but they can provide National with a useful buffer and, as a result, "stable government". 

The Maori Party are in a strong position. They could even be Kingmakers. If this is the case I expect them to side with National in exchange for an expansion of Whanau Ora, possibly a sweet deal for Iwi re asset sales and a review of the MCA Act. However, they will know this is suicide. They are, after all, two MPs down thanks to their their relationship with National. In terms of relationships, the Maori Party have a successful working relationship with National and also a strong personal relationship with John Key and others. Although the Maori Party maintain good relations with Labour's Maori caucus, the Maori Party don't have any sort of working relationship with them. Labour have also tried to, and in the case of Te Tai Tonga succeeded, in burning the Maori Party. A few things to chew over.

The commentators on Maori TV seem to think a second term with National will hurt the Maori Party. Sandra Lee, correctly i think, states that the Maori Party will want a lot more gains in exchange for their loyalty. That's the only option really. The Maori Party need concrete, visible and easily sold policy wins. The, for example, constitutional review and the UN Dec. on the Rights of Indigenous People are too abstract and remote for many Maori voters. They don't connect to those sorts of policies nor see the relevance in a time where material needs are most pressing. The decade for symbolism has passed. For many Maori, this decade is about getting by the basics.

UPDATE: It appears to me that Pita Sharples is hinting on all channels that the Maori Party will support National. He cites on going projects his party have with National and says asset sales are not a deal breaker. In fact, Sharples restates his hollow opposition to asset sales on TVNZ saying that if it happens the Maori Party will push for iwi access. Interesting.

- Key has just publicly invited the Maori Party back. John Key is gracious and correct with his praise for Phil Goff too. If I can add my own comments, Goff is a great man and a great New Zealander. He deserves nothing but praise, praise and more praise.

- Consensus on Maori TV seems to be the Maori Party face some huge challenges in terms of working with National. Everyone seems to be in agreement that it another three years with National may prove to be the Maori Party's death sentence.

First thoughts on the Maori results (updated)

Most of the results are in and these are my unrefined thoughts.

Te Tai Tonga:

As predicted, Labour’s Rino Tirikatene has dislodged the incumbent Rahui Katene. The specials remain to be counted, but Tirikatene enjoys a healthy lead. The Green’s Dora Langsbury polled well and Mana’s Clinton Dearlove underperformed taking less than 9% of the vote. Interestingly Tirikatene is performing better in the candidate vote than Labour is in the party vote so it appears that Tirikatene has built a personality vote – much like his colleagues Parekura and Nanaia. Turn out among older voters who remember the colossals, Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan and Eruera Tirikatene, appears to have helped Rino over the line. Rino also credits his message that a vote for the Maori Party is a vote for National. I agree. That is a resonate line. Ultimately, Rahui needed Wellington to pull her through, but it looks like the four way race has split the vote in Wellington and, instead, pulled Rahui back.


Te Ururoa has put some distance between himself and Annette Sykes. That surprises me. I expected there to be only 10% in it (there's about 12% between them). The complicating factor seems to be that Louis Te Kani has secured more votes than I expected. Te Ururoa has no doubt held Rotorua and stemmed the bleed in other parts of the electorate. Despite Annette’s momentum the advantage of incumbency appears to have done enough for Te Ururoa. Numbers wise, Annette’s strongholds (Opotiki, East Coast etc) are just too small compared to Te Ururoa’s strongholds (Rotorua, wider Te Arawa etc). Louis Te Kani, at around 23%, I think has done well in his home patch of Tauranga Moana and adopted home of Rotorua. I firmly believe if Annette started campaigning four months out (rather than four weeks out!) that she would have snatched the seat. Annette’s campaign machinery, which was stronger than Te Ururoa’s, just did not have enough time to stamp their mark. Considering the Maori Party experienced near operational collapse their win is a real testament to Te Ururoa Flavell as an individual.

Tamaki Makaurau:

No one ever expected Pita to lose this seat, but I don’t think anyone expected Shane to come so close. Even though he isn’t going to win, this is a close loss and it certainly won’t end his career. It looks as if Mana’s Kereama Pene has stolen more than a few tino rangatiratnage votes from Pita. Mana is, of course, strongest from Waiariki tracking north. Auckland especially - think Sue Bradford, John Minto, Matt McCarten, UNITE and the Auckland socialist community. Pene, like Rino, seems to be building a personality vote too. Pene polled over 16% while Mana polled only 14%.

Te Tai Tokerau:

Hone has held his seat.


Parekura has held. No surprise to see such a significant majority too. I expect support would have been split in Tai Rawhiti, but the further south you go the stronger support for Parekura becomes.


Nanaia has held too. No surprise she has secured a predictable majority.

Te Tai Hauauru:

Tariana has secured another win and deservedly so. No surprises looking at her majority.

Other Maori candidates:

Paula Bennett appears safe in Waitakere. This battle was always going to be close and it looks like Carmel Sepuloni, a rising star in Labour, is gone (I don't think she was high enough on the list to make it back).

Hekia Parata had a decent crack at the Mana seat, but Kris Faafoi has maintains a safe lead.

Simon Bridges is, predictably, safe. He wasn't threatened by Deborah Mahuta-Coyle.

Louisa Wall has galloped home in Manurewa.

General Comments:

The biggest surprise is how bloody wrong the polls were. Te Tai Tonga has swung Rino Tirikatene’s way – comfortably too. It was much closer in Tamaki Makaurau and slightly closer in Waiariki. Perhaps my criticisms of polls is justified, having said that my predictions were only slightly more accurate. Meh.

UPDATE: Rino's win appears to be one of the only bright spots in a day of shame for Labour. They look to fall below 28% and lose real talent like Kelvin Davis. Shame on the makers of the Labour Party list.

According to TVNZ voter turnout could be below 70%. I think this is unprecedented and will hurt Mana, the Maori Party and Labour.

The Maori have been punished in Te Tai Tonga, losing to Labour of course, and the Maori Party's share of the party vote has being slashed in Waiariki, Hauraki-Waikato, Tamaki Makaurau and Te Tai Tokerau. Mana's party vote result was small in the other electorates. Labour is still the party of choice for Maori.

Nov 25, 2011

The week in Maori politics

It’s been a long week, don’t you think? I can’t wait for it all to be over. But anyway, here is the summary of the week in Maori politics:


There were a few stories on Monday. The Maori Party moved to clarify their position on asset sales. The party leaders reiterated that the Maori Party opposes asset sales, but, key word but, if the sales were to go ahead the Maori Party would swing behind iwi. Hollow opposition to be honest, but supremely pragmatic. On the topic of the Maori Party Pita Sharples informed Radio New Zealand that he “must” be at the Cabinet Table if Don Brash is there. Pita, it appears, sees himself as a counterbalance against the redneck Brash.

Te Karere released their last poll this time on Te Tai Tonga. The poll put the incumbent Rahui Katene 11 points ahead of Labour’s Rino Tirikatene. Labour was expecting to win Te Tai Tonga; however this is far from assured now. The Maori Party look set to retain all of their seats.

Native Affairs ran their final electorate debate this time in Tamaki Makaurau. Pita Sharples clashed with Shane Jones, Mana’s Kereama Pene and the Green’s Mikaere Curtis. In my opinion, all four men performed well. Joshua Hitchcock provides a useful review here.

Waatea News led with the angle that Labour relegated Maori issues during the campaign. This was a continuation of the angle they ran last week.

Mana’s foreign policy launch still had legs on Monday. John Minto announced, or re-announced is probably the better description, Mana’s plan to recall New Zealand troops in Afghanistan and use the $40m that would save to “feed the kids”. Make lunch not war as Damien Christie says. Minto also called for immigrants from the Pacific to be given the same status as immigrants from Australia.


Maori politicians bombarded each other with claims and counter claims on Tuesday. Labour’s Nanaia Mahuta claimed that asset sales will diminish the Crown’s ability to settle treaty claims. Once, for example, power companies are sold to private interests the Crown’s ability to recognise, for example, Maori water rights will be diminished because those rights will have to be balanced against the interests and rights of private owners. I hope I have paraphrased her argument correctly.

The Maori Party told us not to send Hone Harawira to do the groceries. The Maori Party claimed that Mana’s costing for their breakfasts in schools program was well over $40m. Pita Sharples reckoned the price of providing breakfast to all children in low deciles schools is closer to $500m.

Labour’s Kelvin Davis gained some traction and came out against Anne Tolley. Davis attacked the Education Minister’s decision to close a successful class for mainly Maori students. According to opponents Tolley closed the class as punishment for Moerewa School’s refusal to implement National Standards.


Hone Harawira delivered his state of the nation speech in South Auckland. Harawira called for a war on poverty. Harawira also outlined some of Mana’s policies, like the abolition of GST, and emphasised the history and strength of Mana’s team (Sykes, Minto and Bradford).

The Maori Party leaders met in Wellington to discuss post election arrangements. Tariana Turia spoke to the Herald’s Audrey Young and seemed to, or at least this is how I see it, be implying that if the Maori Party hold the balance of power they will support National. The Maori Party have already stated that if National can form a government without the Maori Party then they will still pursue an agreement similar to the one the two parties made in 2008. Anyway, Turia informed Young that the Maori Party deal with National was aimed at building “a lasting and respectful relationship”. Emphasis on lasting. It is also worth keeping in mind John Key’s reluctance to use the Maori Party as a bogeyman. In fact Key has openly praised the Maori Party. The Maori Party have also refrained from really criticising National. Another factor that may come into play is Pita Sharples close relationship with John Key.


On Radio New Zealand Phil Goff reiterated his position on Hone Harawira – he can’t be trusted according to Goff. Goff went so far as to say he won’t work with Mana rather than just Hone.

Morning Report held their minor leaders debate. For a review see this from Tim Slewyn.

The Thursday night polls from the two main news networks didn’t make great viewing for Maori. Mana dangled around 1%, the Maori Party between 1.5 and 2%. Labour was on 28% in the One News poll and 26% on the 3 News poll. However, the Greens, who are always supporters of things Maori, sat between 10 and 13%.

Finally, I put out my picks for the Maori electorates at Pundit.


In the Herald I write on how Maori can make their vote count. Willie Jackson and I also discuss the Maori seats on Morning Report.

I think the most significant story today was Te Ururoa Flavell’s claim that the Maori Party have “undersold” themselves.

And that brings the week to a close and, of course, the election. Tomorrow is voting day so please, please get out there and vote. Don’t forget to vote for MMP too. Soon after the election I’ll be posting a few election post mortem pieces. I’ll review each parties campaign, some individual politicians and I’ll also take a look at the issues that I think were important/influenced the way Maori voted.

If you want a full overview of the election in Maori politics see this post on week 1 of the campaign, week 2 and week 3.

Lastly, thanks for reading me over the campaign. Over the past four weeks on average 1000 of you view this blog each day. The lowest number of views was Wednesday with only 700 and the highest was in the second week when it hit over 2000. When the election's over please don't leave me! I think I'll still be interesting. 

Tonight's posts

I'll be on the road most of today so no posting until around 5ish. I'll wrap up the week in Maori politics for the final time and update the best and worst performing Maori politicians page. I think I'll rank the best and worst from the campaign.

I don't want to breach any electoral rules tomorrow so there will be no posts and comments will not be published.

On Sunday and the following days I'll write up an election post mortem and review how things are likely to play out in Maori politics.  

In the meantime if you still haven't made up your mind take a look at this useful resource Radio New Zealand have compiled. RNZ have posed a range of questions and invited parties to respond.

Morning Report

I'll be on Radio New Zealand's Morning Report at 8.35ish. I'll be talking on the Maori vote with, I think, Derek Fox.

Nov 24, 2011

My picks and my votes

If you want to know my picks for the Maori electorates you can take a look at my latest post over at Pundit. My calls are largely consistent with what I’ve been saying for the past year.

On a slightly related note I’m going to tell you how I plan to vote. Deciding to whom I’m going to give my electorate vote isn’t hard. Readers will know I’m openly supportive of Annette Sykes so I guess it’s no secret that’s where my electorate vote will fall. Yes, I live in Wellington, but I’m still enrolled in Waiariki (I’ll get round to changing this soon). If I was enrolled in Te Tai Tonga I’d be casting a vote for Rino Tirikatene. Rahui Katene hasn’t impressed me over the past three years.

Readers may, however, be a little surprised when it comes to my party vote. I thought about this pretty hard and I’ve decided to cast my party vote for the Greens – not Mana. Although I support Mana and almost everything the party stands for, I don’t agree with all of their policies. On the other hand, scrolling through the Greens catalogue of policies I found myself agreeing with almost everything. My vote will not be informed on Maori issues alone, if it was I’d vote Mana, but across the board the Greens have the most comprehensive set of policies and, in my opinion, the best plan for moving New Zealand forward. This doesn’t mean I’m all of a sudden an enthusiastic Green Party supporter. I really, really, really dislike Russell Norman.

I should add I’m not voting strategically. I’m voting on principle. Annette Sykes is the best candidate in Waiariki and the Greens offer the best plan for New Zealand. That’s it.

How not to help your cause

I take issue with this sort of shit:

Education minister Anne Tolley may be used to facing protests from school teachers, but on Friday night it was a group of school children shouting and jeering at her (Kawerau Intermediate students and supporters).

The youngsters’ anger and frustration appeared close to boiling over into a direct confrontation at the meeting’s conclusion at 9.20pm, with their attempts to get the minister to explain her actions being stymied.

Mrs Tolley declined to answer a question posed by pupil Kunere Timoti about why she had decided to close the school “when you did not even visit it”. Her response that she was unable to comment on the issue because it had entered a 28-day legal process proved far from satisfactory for the assembled school crowd – and when the meeting’s chairman Mark Longley pulled the plug soon after, it appeared the pupils were on the verge of breaking into a spontaneous haka or finding some other way to vent their anger.

Although there are legitimate questions around Tolley’s refusal to visit Kawerau and front the Intermediate supporters, it is the height of arrogance for those supporters to gate crash a meeting for East Coast voters. Kawerau is part of the Rotorua electorate. The Intermediate supporters have no right to barge into a candidates meeting for East Coast voters, emphasis on East Coast voters, and demand Tolley’s attention and, in the process, distract her from issues that affect the East Coast electorate. This was not an appropriate venue for the Intermediate supporters to attend. Tolley’s first obligation in the above situation is to her electorate. Her obligation to the Intermediate supporters is secondary. The story continues:

Some of the now-shirtless youngsters gathered on the driveway outside the church in an apparent bid to confront Mrs Tolley as she was leaving. However the minister and her supporters remained inside the church.

The caregivers, evidently anxious to avoid an incident involving their charges and no doubt aware it had already been a late night for them, quickly herded them back onto an awaiting school bus for transport back to Kawerau.

Good one. Now you’ve made Kawerau look like a town of nutters. This was my biggest worry when I heard the school was putting on some buses and ferrying their supporters and students to the meeting. I was afraid some one would lose it or, as appears to have happened, a few of the kids have lost it and further damaged the already dim view many people hold of Kawerau.

Which brings me to another point. Why were the kids there anyway? What useful purpose do they serve? Other than to add an emotional element to what should be a dispassionate debate. I think it is tantamount to child abuse that the Intermediate supporters keep using these kids, especially their headboy, in an attempt to garner sympathy.

The Intermediate supporters seem to have cultivated a lot of anger in these kids and that’s unacceptable. Tolley’s going to close the school and what are these kids going to do with that anger when that happens. Smash something up? Rob a house? Tag? Misbehave with their parents?

Anyway, the story goes on:

Maori Party candidate Tina Porou backed out of Friday night’s meeting in Whakatane over fears for her safety.  
“Upon arriving at the church, our candidate was greeted by a group of approximately 200 Mana party and Labour party supporters, apparently targeting the meeting for a protest against the education minister in connection with the closure of Kawerau Intermediate,” party president Pem Bird said in a statement.

“We’d be the last ones to challenge the right to political expression – but there has to be some boundaries in place around public safety.

“My candidate felt there was such a level of tension and anger among the crowd … that it might escalate into a situation which was unsafe. I made the decision that given the volatility of the rally as she described it to me, it would not be wise for her to attend.

“According to her account, some of the young people were particularly riled up and she was not confident that the meeting could proceed without incident.”

Unacceptable. Just unacceptable. The Intermediate supporters really have ruined the candidates meeting. One of less than a handful. They’ve stuck it to East Coast voters sending the message that the Intermediates concerns are greater than those on the East Coast. Oh, the arrogance.

This saga really tops itself off with this:

Earlier this week Rotorua MP Todd McClay made thinly-veiled comments about Mr Aim, who lives in Papamoa.

He said the Kawerau community “would be interested to know” that someone making a lot of noise about the education reorganisation had also sent videos of Kawerau students fighting to television media.

So it was the Intermediate Principal, Daryl Aim, who sent those videos to Closeup and sparked what was the most negative media story I've ever seen on the town. He must be gutted, or possibly ashamed. His actions certainly didn't help his cause. In fact, the opposite happened and the videos galvanised the Minister and local figures to push a head with the reorganisation of education in Kawerau. The irony's killing me. I admire Mr Aim’s shrewdness, but if he is indulging in unfair play he has no right to go accuses the Minister of playing the game unfairly. Pretty disgraceful really. I guess this the killer credibility blow for the Intermediate supporters. I think it’s high time they accepted the inevitable.

Back Benches

I forgot to say I was on Back Benches election campaign special last night. I was on the panel with David Farrar, Ana Gilling and Mark Unsworth. You can watch the show here.

Nov 23, 2011

Te Tai Tonga, Sharples and Brash, Tainui and asset sales

I don’t have much time to blog this week so I’ll quickly comment on a few things I’ve missed over the last few days:

Te Tai Tonga

The latest Te Karere Digipoll puts Rahui Katene ahead of Labour’s Rino Tirikatene. Katene is on 46% to Tirikatene’s 35%. The last Te Karere poll put Tirikatene on 41% to Katene’s 34%. Hurricane Clinton Dearlove registers 9% support while the Green’s Dora Langsbury comes in with 10% support. I think the following has happened: 1) Katene has, realising it’s do or die, reenergised her campaign and reclaimed the momentum 2) Dearlove and Langsbury have siphoned more votes from Tirikatene than they have from Katene 3) Tirikatene is suffering from a swing against Labour. The seat is now 50/50. Whereas everyone was picking a win for Tirikatene, this isn’t so sure anymore. 

A Tirikatene win is certainly still possible. As Digipoll points out, Tirikatene’s older support base is far more likely to vote and younger voters, who strongly support Katene, usually change sides at the last minute. Jobs and asset sales also rank as important issues. This is where Tirikatene will be strong. No one can forget Katene going against the wishes of iwi in Te Tai Tonga, notably Ngai Tahu, and voting for the MCA Act as well. Meanwhile Katene is calling for better resourcing for Maori electorates. The Maori electorates are huge and there is a need for access to more staffers and more expense funding. Apparently Katene could do with three staffers. I say try six. Maori electorate MPs are allowed three staffers and an EA so I don’t know why Katene is saying she could do with three when she’s allowed three.

Pita Sharples vs Brash

The Maori Party continue the line that they need to be at the Cabinet table to oppose Don Brash. Firstly, the Maori Party sit outside of Cabinet – so they’re not really at the Cabinet table. If Act enter a formal coalition with National, rather than a confidence and supply agreement, then Brash will sit at the table (in a figurative and literal sense) to the exclusion of the Maori Party (because what are the chances they will enter a formal coalition). This makes the whole at the table rhetoric a little hollow.

Tainui support the Maori Party on asset sales

In an about turn Tuku Morgan has come out in support of the Maori Party’s stance on asset sales. Previously Tuku actively supported the sale of assets and iwi acquisition of those assets. However, Tuku now opposes asset sales, but should assets come on the market Tuku will look to invest. Tuku reckons that the Maori Party is looking out for the needs of Maori. If this isn’t an endorsement, then I don’t know what is. 

This is a blow for John Key. The Iwi Leadership Group were, at one point, one of the strongest advocates for asset sales. John Key is quickly losing his allies on this issue. Without Iwi support and the active opposition of Mana and the Maori Party the Nats won't be able to sell the idea to Maori. Not that they need Maori support.

Martin Cooper controversy

By all accounts Martin Cooper is a good guy and has done a lot for the community. Fair enough. He still abused his position and should suffer the consequences though. The Herald on Sunday followed up on their story from the week before this time revealing Cooper wanted to give some guy the bash or something.

Tamaki Makaurau debate

Four strong candidates. I like picking winners, unlike Joshua Hitchcock who has blogged a brilliant summary here, but I genuinely can’t pick one. Each candidate was strong in certain areas. No candidate did them or their parties a disservice let’s put it that way.

Nov 21, 2011

Te Karere Digipoll: Te Tai Tonga

Te Karere will be releasing some surprising poll results on Te Tai Tonga today. Tune into TV One at 4pm. On a separate note I don't imagine I'll have much time to blog this week so things will probably be a little quiet.  

Nov 18, 2011

Short break

I'll be uncontactable from this afternoon through to Sunday. I'm off to Kawhia for the weekend so I'll be without internet and cellphone coverage too. I hope I survive being offline for a few days. If you want to reach me just flick me an email and I'll get back to you on Sunday.

The week in Maori politics

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.

Nov 17, 2011

On the two political debates

Did anyone notice that three of the six leaders in TVNZ’s multi party debate were Maori? If Meteria Turei was put in the place of Russell Norman then four of the six would have been Maori – a clear majority. Maori must be doing something right huh. The two kaupapa Maori leaders, Hone and Tariana, came out of the debate looking good. Hone found an unlikely friend in Claire Robinson who commended Hone for his communication skills. Even John Armstrong declares Hone a “surprise standout”. The Dom’s Tracey Watkins praises Tariana as “the kuia of the nation” and I have nothing but praise for her performance too.

I’m only going to focus on Hone and Tariana and then I’ll review Native Affairs Hauraki Waikato debate.

Hone was probably the stronger of the two. He really is the master communicator and, along with the other Maori in the room Winston Peters, had the audience enthralled. Hone was strong on the financial transactions tax and never strayed far from focussing on the poor. A minor highlight of the debate was trying to decide who, out of Hone and Tariana, came up with their respective policies first. A common line was “I agree with Hone” or “I agree with Tari”. Tariana did particularly well during the race relations section. She really underlined her reputation as a strong advocate for Maori. She was all class. Tariana never strayed far from focussing on Whanau Ora too – the Maori Party’s trophy policy win in my opinion. It was a smart appeal to her base.

The question on coalitions was also interesting. Tariana certainly didn’t express a preference for any party pointing out that the Maori Party can and will work with anyone – except Act. This signalled, to me at least, that should the Maori Party hold the balance of power on November 27 they will support a Labour led government. In other words a government that does not include Act. However, if Act is a no show on November 27 and the Maori Party holds the balance of power, well, in that scenario I think they would support a National led government. As Winston said, you develop an amount of respect and admiration for the people you work with, but then again familiarity breeds contempt (or so they say).

On that note it was unfair of Hone to paint the Maori Party as if they are in a coalition with Act. Hone knows this isn’t true. The Maori Party has a relationship, more specifically a confidence and supply agreement, with the National Party – not Act. Act just happen to have one with the Nats too.

Native Affairs debate:

Nanaia Mahuta was the stand out. Hands down. Angeline Greensill was close second while Tau Bruce Mataki from the Maori Party rounded off the night.

Initially, the candidates were evenly matched. Angeline was aggressive off the mark, Mataki was strong on the Maori Party’s policy of asking all Maori organisation to hire two rangatahi while Nanaia was in blazing form on asset sales.

As the night wore on Nanaia proved to be the most consistent. Nanaia showed her experience in response to a question on co-management deals with the Crown and Iwi. Nanaia highlighted Labour’s work in that area, especially around the Waikato river. In response to a question on child abuse Nanaia, quite impressively in my opinion, highlighted specific legislation Labour enacted to reduce assaults on children.

Angeline was strong too. On the child abuse question Angeline linked the problem to poverty and then reeled off Mana’s policies to combat poverty and, as a result, reduce child abuse. On health Angeline skilfully linked her answers to the principles that Princess Te Puea stood for. Angeline also expressed the need for better support for rongoa and Pharmac.

Mataki started strong, but wore off as the night progressed. He managed to recover when discussing the Maori Party’s policy of turning Marae into economic hubs. He also did well to highlight Whanau Ora, as I said the Maori Party’s trophy policy, and link this in with other themes like child abuse.

All three candidates were strong on employment. Nanaia talked about shifting benefits to apprenticeships, Angeline talked about governments role in creating jobs and Mataki talked about the Marae as economic hubs idea.

The debate was probably most notable for Nanaia’s stinging attacks on the Maori Party. She accused the Maori Party of being the National Party’s proxies in the Maori seats and acting as a “Trojan horse” for the Nats. Ouch. Angeline probably garnered the biggest roar at the end of the night when she said if the Maori Party go with the Nats then then your, as in Maori, only option is to vote for the Greens, Labour or Mana.

So the night belongs to Nanaia. She was the most consistent. I guess her experience showed. If last night proved anything though, it’s that Labour will struggle to retain the seat when Nanaia retires (probably next term). The same is true of Ikaroa-Rawhiti. If Angeline runs again I think she’ll take Waikato and if Na Raihania runs in Ikaroa I think he’ll take that seat in the absence of Parekura.

Nov 15, 2011

More on Kawerau Intermediate

Let’s be straight up; schooling in Kawerau needs to be reorganised. While I think Anne Tolley ignored a section of the community and that is undesirable, I think she came to the right decision. The current schooling arrangements in Kawerau are unsustainable. The numbers don’t exist to justify four separate primary schools (one of which is a full primary school i.e. years 1-8), one intermediate and one high school. Basically, supply outstrips demand. The costs of maintaining six schools with massively declining rolls are unacceptable.

Tolley has approved the establishment of a dual campus year 7-14 school on the Kawerau College site. The school will be split along the junior/senior high model, meaning there will be one years 7 to 10 school and another catering for years 11 to 13/14. Some specialist facilities will be shared, for example science labs.

Some members of the community are disappointed with the lack of consultation. I don’t accept this; the consultation was more than adequate. The community was given adequate time to submit to the Minister and convey their concerns to the Ministry of Education. Several hui were held for the entire community and each school held their own individual hui to determine what model they would support. Kawerau South, Kawerau North, Kawerau Central and Putauaki all supported the closure of the Intermediate. Even though the Mayor, Malcolm Campbell, even says it is time to move on and make education in Kawerau work.

Tolley’s reorganisation will facilitate a culture change in Kawerau schools. The useless management will be rid of and the deadwood on the College and Intermediate boards will be rid of too. Useless staff will not be rehired either. I understand some Kawerau people, as former students, have an emotional connection to the Intermediate. But they need to put that aside and face reality. The schools have to be reorganised and closing the Intermediate is the most sensible option. When the new school comes to life in 2013 the government will spend millions upgrading facilities and attracting high quality staff. This can only be a good thing.

As an aside, Steve Chadwick is taking a gamble. Should, on a slim chance, Labour form the next government Steve will have to make an about face. She has come down on the side of the Intermediate supporters, but if she came into government and saw the official advice I'm of the view that she would change her position and support the reorganisation. The advice from the Ministry is, I believe, emphatic. Schooling must be reorganised and the best model is to shut the Intermediate and partially merge it with the College.

Nov 14, 2011

Native Affairs Kowhiri 11: Tai Tokerau review

I don’t have too much to say about the Tai Tokerau debate on Native Affairs. The three candidates, Hone, Kelvin and Waihoroi Shortland, were pretty even. If forced to pick a winner I’d go with Kelvin. Yes, Kelvin not Hone. Hone was certainly the most authorative, but Kelvin was the most articulate. He focussed firmly on Labour policy without peppering his answers with useless rhetoric. Yes, Hone and Waihoroi were guilty of providing meaningless, read useless, answers. However, I think the criticism that Kelvin is too “wooden” is well placed. This may have something to do with Kelvin remembering his lines too well and he comes across as scripted. I tend to think, or I know from personal experience, that that’s just how Kelvin is. To me it makes no difference.

Having said the above, on a strict points decision the night probably belongs to Hone. Hone speaks well off the cuff and he knows better than anyone how to connect with Maori on a personal level. One thing Hone does well is use colloquialism without taking away from the authority of his message. Maori, well New Zealanders actually, like their politicians to speak like them. That’s part of the appeal of John Key. Where Americans appreciate soaring rhetoric New Zealanders enjoy understated and familiar language. Hone understands this. Many New Zealand politicians are guilty of trying to be like Obama.

Waihoroi was strong in parts and weak in others. He did well to highlight the Maori Party’s role in securing funding for treating rheumatic fever in the north. Waihoroi is much better in te reo than English. He suffers from the problem many fluent Maori speakers suffer from – they speak English like they speak te reo. English is not meant to be spoken in the same manner as te reo. I’m nitpicking here, but one of the problems fluent Maori speakers have is that they can be too verbose. English is about simplicity whereas Maori is often about heavy metaphors, animation and so on. When someone speaks English like they speak te reo the message can be bogged down and lost. This isn’t an attack on Waihoroi, he did well, this is just a general observation.

In fairness, the night was probably too close to call. But I’ll give it Kelvin for focussing on policy. Kelvin provided a template for how political discourse in this country should be run.

Kawerau Intermediate will close

Education Minister Anne Tolley has finally confirmed Kawerau Intermediate will be closed and merged with Kawerau College. From RNZ:

Labour Party List MP Steve Chadwick says Education Minister Anne Tolley has steamrolled the Kawerau community and ignored its pleas not to close the only intermediate school there.

Mrs Tolley has announced a new Year 7 to Year 14 school which will replace Kawerau Intermediate and Kawerau College.

National says it would invest $6 million in the new school. But Ms Chadwick says Mrs Tolley deliberately ignored the community wishes not to merge the schools.

Tolley certainly ignored the community, but, in my opinion, the Minister reached the correct decision. The current model, meaning three tiers of schooling (primary, intermediate and high school), is unsustainable. Reform is, without doubt, necessary and welcome.

In 2013 the College will reopen as a junior/senior high school. On the same campus I believe, but with separate facilities. I think the junior/senior high model is largely untested in New Zealand and an American import. This isn’t to say the model won’t be successful. With the right governance and management the school should, in theory of course, be successful. Good governance and management is what Kawerau College has lacked over the past decade. However, I do worry that the Minister is using Kawerau as a test town for the junior/senior high model. I don’t know what is behind Tolley’s enthusiasm for the model; I guess there must be some sort of cost efficiencies in running high school education in that way.

I’m giving my cautious support to the redevelopment.

Lastly, I wish the Kawerau Intermediate die hards would give it a rest and get on with ensuring the best outcomes for children. You lost. You can't do anything more. Accept it and move on. 

Native Affairs, Q&A and Marae Investigates

A few quick thoughts:


Big ups to Native Affairs winning best current affairs show at the Aotearoa Film and Television Awards. Native is the most intelligent, in depth and watchable current affairs show in NZ. No bells and whistles, just straight current affairs. Native is also one of the few Maori TV shows that cross the cultural divide. Be sure to watch the Tai Tokerau debate on Native tonight at 9.30.


Shane Jones and Pita Sharples went head to head on Q&A yesterday. Sharples stressed his party's achievements including getting 200 people working on community gardens, no joke. Shane ripped Sharples point apart saying change for Maori must occur at a macro level. Sharples recovered to point out that to make a long term difference resources must be invested in education and this is where the Maori Party has done well, apparently. Paul Holmes cornered Shane with a question on the retirement age. Mana and the Maori Party have outflanked Labour and promised to reduce the Maori retirement age to 60. Shane initially attempted to deflect the question, but eventually highlighted the transitional payments system which he implied could be extended to Maori. Shane concluded, quite skilfully in my opinion, and shifted the focus to increasing Maori life expectancy. The interview ended with Shane rightfully identifying his “dim prospects” of leading the Labour Party. The panel said the debate was too even to call and I largely agree. If it went to any side I think it weighed only slightly on Shane’s.


Marae Investigates covered the Maori electorates with Rawiri Taonui, Maria Bargh and Willie Jackson. All three called Tamaki Makaurau for Pita. Willie Jackson pointed out that Pita is campaigning well at the moment. Rawiri thought Labour’s lack of Maori policy is hurting Shane – a point I made last week.

The panel thought Nanaia was safe. I agree. Angeline Greensill came painfully close at the last election. However, this year it’s a three horse race. Angeline will have to share the non-Labour vote with Bruce Mataki of the Maori Party. The door is wide open for Nanaia to increase her hold on the seat.

Ikaroa-Rawhiti was, correctly in my opinion, called for Parekura Horomia and Te Tai Hauauru for Tariana Turia. These two seats are going to be wide open when Parekura and Tariana retire next term.

Waiariki was next. Rawiri Taonui pretty much endorsed Annette saying of all the Maori standing in this election he wants to see Annette make it to Parliament. Willie reckons she would do well in Parliament. However, both men did not think she would win. A fair call, but inconsistent with what I have called. Willie pointed out that the “tikanga” is tough on wahine in the electorate. Most readers will know what he is referring to.

On to Te Tai Tonga and Maria said “Hurricane” (Clinton Dearlove) will storm Labour’s vote. Willie was on the right track when he disagreed and said Dearlove will steal Maori Party votes and hand the seat to Rino as a result. This is a point I made after the Te Tai Tonga debate.


Finally, there is a Te Karere Digi-poll coming out today on the Waiariki race. I think the poll will be make or break for Annette. The poll needs to show Annette within a reasonable distance of Te Ururoa or her supporters will, more likely than not, see it as a lost cause and stay home. Annette’s campaign depends on a lot of variables. Most of all I have decided it depends on how many young Maori enrol and mobilise on the day. I sense the old people here in Waiariki are still backing Te Ururoa and are still attracted to the image and the thought of the “Maori”, stress on “Maori”, Party. The young are overwhelmingly, no almost exclusively, backing Annette.

Nov 11, 2011

The week in Maori politics (updated)

It was slow going in Maori politics this week. Below I’ve summarised and commented on the main events.


News on Monday was dominated by the Mana Movement’s campaign launch at a Marae in South Auckland. In a quite deliberate and symbolic move the launch was held on Guy Fawkes day. There wasn’t really anything radical or new to come out of the day.

Native Affairs Kowhiri 11 Waiariki debate was held on Monday night. Te Ururoa Flavell (Maori Party), Annette Sykes (Mana) and Louis Te Kani (Labour) went head to head on issues like family violence and a motorway that will cut through the Puarenga Stream. Interestingly, Louis Te Kani put his head out and said, should he win, he will resign if the motorway goes ahead. In contrast, Labour’s Steve Chadwick (who was at the debate) supports the motorway (she didn’t point that out at the debate though of course). I called the debate for Annette and sparked heated debate with many commenters calling it for Te Ururoa and some even expressing support for Louis Te Kani.

A Te Karere Digi-poll surveying the Tamaki Makaurau electorate was released on Monday and showed Pita Sharples enjoys a comfortable lead over Labour’s Shane Jones and Mana’s Kereama Pene. This wasn’t in itself a surprise, but the extent of Pita’s support was. The poll indicated Pita enjoys a clear majority (58% support).


Tuesday was an empty day. The highlight was probably Kereama Pene saying Mana will not sit down with Kupapa. This we already know, but it was fascinating to see Pene invoke that sort of language. In fact, it was fascinating to see him speak to media at all. I would have thought that Matt McCarten would have tied a tight leash to him.


Another slow day. The only highlight was the Ikaroa-Rawhiti debate between Parekura Horomia (Labour), Na Raihania (Maori Party) and Tawhai McClutchie (Mana). I called the debate for Parekura, but I think had Na not endorsed National Standards the debate could have easily gone his way. Parekura has done his campaign no disservice and will probably cruise to victory.


A very busy day as far as the Maori Party was concerned. The party released their education policy which called for universal access to Te Reo Maori in schools. A great policy. If Maori, or non-Maori too, want to learn te reo then it should be available as a subject at all schools – or at the very least at all state schools. Te Reo Maori is an official language, an integral part of New Zealand society and giving effect to te reo is recognising the Crown’s obligation under the Treaty to actively protect Maori taonga.

Tariana Turia also called for a review of Te Puni Kokiri. I’m not sure if this is needed, but it sounds reasonable. What bad can come of it? None in my mind.


In the Herald I stick it to Labour for failing to enter or influence Maori political discourse. Labour is leaving Mana and the Maori Party to direct Maori political discourse and, as a result, allowing the two parties an opportunity to eat in to one of Labour's traditional support bases i.e. Maori voters. I need to eat some of my words though because what does Goff go and do – he makes a headline at Waatea News. Let’s hope to see some follow up from Labour.

Hone Harawira participates in a live chat on Hone confirms he will never work with National and provides a few insightful one-liners like "Charities exist where governments fail".
The Maori Party policy on making te reo universally available in schools still has legs.

Uncertain future for the Maori Party

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.

Nov 10, 2011

Native Affairs Kowhiri 11: Ikaroa Rawhiti review

There isn’t an awful lot to say about the Native Affairs Ikaroa Rawhiti debate. There were no surprises, no real stand outs or no real disappointments. Business as usual up the coast really. If forced to call it, I’d give it to Parekura (yes, I used to work for Parekura, and yes I want him to win, and yes I think he will win).

It’s a fact though, isn’t it? Parekura’s just bloody good. It doesn’t even matter if he doesn’t address the question – he still sounds bloody good. The man was well versed in Labour talking points and he tied them in well with local themes and concerns. Where I thought he was particularly strong was on Maori trade training. He affirmed Labour’s commitment to reintroducing Maori trade training and he also mentioned the need to modernise the scheme because, quite obviously, the old school model isn’t going to fit so well with Maori in 2011. Parekura was also strong on health focussing on preventing problems rather than responding to them. This linked in with Labour’s children first policy. Policy wise, the highlight for me was Parekura’s speaking on putting money into post settlement governance entities. Post settlement Iwi structures are a real problem in Maori society, think of the problems engulfing Tainui, and Labour appears to be the only party taking note (please correct me if I’m wrong here).

Parekura wasn’t the only man in the room though. Na Raihania was good as well. When Parekura calls it a day I’d put money on Na taking the seat. He’s polite, moves well between te reo and English and knows Maori Party policy/the issues affecting his people. Na spoke well on health touching on Whanau Ora which he termed as “devolving” services to Maori organisations. I always associate “devolving services” with privatisation. Na failed to maintain his trajectory though. In the second half of the show Na came out in support of National Standards. He went as far as to say the Maori Party supports National Standards. Have he and the Maori Party not seen the international evidence against standards? Have he and the Maori Party not heard the warnings from NZ experts against the standards? Have he and the Maori Party not smelt the discontent coming from the education profession? Na said “in the absence of anything better we need to get something on the ground”. Anything better? National Standards are the worst option imaginable. The status quo works better. Anywho, other than that shocking hiccup Na performed very well and came across as a polite, respectful and knowledgeable candidate.

I don’t have much to say about Tawhai Mcclutchie. He was good - but no Hurricane Dearlove that’s for sure. I think he needed to provide more depth and try to keep away from saying Mana so much. He was good though (I won’t be disparaging of people who have taken a leap for something they believe in) and should be commended for doing so well on what is his first campaign and, probably, first time in front on the cameras and a live audience. I was a little shocked though when in response to a question on Maori wards in Gisborne Tawhai said there should be a 60/40 ratio of Maori to Pakeha – talk about radical huh.

On balance, the night belongs to Parekura. Na certainly didn’t harm his chances though and I think he may just be positioning himself for a successful run in 2014.

(The next debate screen Monday from Te Tai Tokerau)