Sep 6, 2012
Shame on the Maori Party
Question: why would the Maori Party say that they “don’t see the point” in attending the Kingitanga’s national hui? Answer: incompetence.
It’s a familiar pattern. The Maori Party repeat the government position, they come under attack for doing so, 24 to 48 hours later they switch sides, possibly remembering that they are the ‘Maori Party’. If this was an innocuous issue, there would be little to no consequence in endorsing the government’s position. The thing is, it’s not. This leads me to the second question, how will the Maori Party’s position effect Maori opposition. Answer: immensely.
A fragmented opposition is easier to neutralise than a united opposition. The Kingitanga and the Maori Party are power structures in Maori society. Together, they represent a threat to the government’s objective to divide and rule, split, and they represent no threat at all.
In rejecting the Kingitanga’s national hui and assuming this is “a thing iwi/hapu have to work out themselves”, the Maori Party have endorsed divide and rule. Their stupidity amazes me. An iwi by iwi approach will give the government the opportunity to exploit differences and jealousies between iwi. The result, aside from the results I outlined in the previous post, will be a reduction in the price of any bargain, especially in the case of pre-settlement iwi. A useful analogy is with trade unionism. As a collective, workers have more power and the chance to drive a better bargain. As individuals, the bargaining power is weighted towards the employer and as a general rule a lesser bargain is struck. It blows my mind that the Maori Party allow the divide and rule approach to stand.
Moving away from the Maori Party, the third question is will the Kingitanga pressure Waikato-Tainui negotiators to refuse a deal that excludes a national solution? The answer: yes.
Tom Roa, the chair of Te Arataura (Waikato-Tainui’s executive committee), has expressed his approval of the government’s iwi by iwi approach. Presumably Roa will play a key role in negotiations. However, the Kingitanga have access to Roa and their word will be persuasive.
Tumu Te Heu Heu, the paramount chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa and member of the Iwi Leaders Group, presumably agrees with Roa too. However, Ngati Tuwharetoa follow the Kingitanga too, therefore the King has the mana to lobby Tuwharetoa to switch positions.
Of the other major iwi affected, Te Arawa and Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Maniapoto support the Kingitanga. Te Arawa don’t per se, but Ngati Pikiao host the poukai (the only iwi in Te Arawa to do so). In any event this will not stop the Kingitanga from lobbying.
With this in mind, the last question is: will the negotiators for Waikato-Tainui, Ngati Tuwharetoa and the other affected iwi take heed and refuse a deal that excludes a national solution? The answer: on the balance of probabilities, they’ll take the deal.
The rhetoric from key figures in Waikato-Tainui seems to indicate they will take the iwi by iwi deal. The Herald reported that figures in Waikato-Tainui have pressured pre-settlement iwi to take a deal on ‘credit’. That, ladies and gentlemen, is an example of divide and rule in action. The larger iwi who stand to make a commercial windfall will pressure other iwi to take a deal as well, regardless of whether those iwi have the structures in place to negotiate, accept and manage the results of a deal. There is nothing in the public domain that supports a different conclusion.
Maori, what we need is unity, unity and more unity. Having some iwi take a deal while excluding a national solution will cause more harm than good in the long run. Having the Maori Party endorse the government’s divide and rule approach will do more harm than good. Whatever way you look at it, we’re getting let down by some of our leaders. Good on the Kingitanga, the Maori Council, the Mana Party and most iwi for supporting a national solution. Shame on the Maori Party for supporting the government’s solution and shame on some in Waikato-Tainui for putting their own interests ahead of what’s good for our people.