Feb 18, 2011

Sort it out, Labour

What is interesting is that Labour may have relatively few Maori MPs after the next election, unless they do some recruitment into high list placings. It is rumoured that Horomia may retire also, and Mahuta is staying on but concentrating mainly on family for the next few years.

On top of Mahuta, you’ve got Shane Jones, Kelvin Davis and Moana Mackey. Only four Maori MPs would be historically quite low for Labour. Labour may give high list rankings to some of their Maori seat candidates – but then of course that may help the Maori Party keep those seats.

I do not like this. In my opinion Labour has always taken the Maori vote for granted. The party establishment treats Maori support as a given, almost a right. If Labour continues to treat Maori support with casual disregard then the electoral consequences will be severe.

Traditionally, Maori voted Labour because Labour was the best of a bad bunch. However, in 2010, Maori have genuine political alternatives. National has shown that, under the right circumstances, they can accept some aspects of tino rangatiratanga and advance Maori aspirations. The Greens worldview is in most respects comparable with Te Ao Maori and NZ First offers a creed of nationalism that appeals to many Maori. And of course there is The Maori Party. Unlike in the past Maori can easily shift their vote to other Parliamentary parties.  

In such a crowded political market place Labour needs to do more. Labour appears to be operating under a mindset stuck in 1984 where the Maori vote only determined the outcome in four safe Maori seats. As such Labour could easily disregard the Maori vote without suffering electoral consequences. However, this is 2010, the political landscape is wildly different. Maori are a growing demographic and consequently a growing electoral power. One would think, in the interests of longevity, that Labour would be making a concerted effort to solidify the Maori vote. In 2008 women and to a lesser extent the working class ditched Labour. If Labour continues to disrespect Maori support then Maori may follow suit.    

Labour needs to rebuild trust among Maori. Following the foreshore and seabed controversy and more recently Phil Goff’s Nationhood speech Maori trust in Labour has dwindled. Having only four Maori MP’s feeds the perception that Labour just does not care about the Maori vote. National has really stolen the initiative in terms of the Maori vote. By entering into an agreement with the Maori Party the Nats have created the perception that they are willing to enter into a good faith relationship with, at first glance, ideological foes for the good of the country. Over the past two years the Nats have continuously offered the Maori Party small concessions thus reinforcing the perception that the party is no longer hostile towards Maori aspirations.

Labour needs to get it together. The party is incompetent in every respect. Without the Maori vote Labour cannot hope to ever occupy the Treasury benches. Women love John Key, urban liberals are few and far between and the working class by and large no longer identify with Labour. If Labour does not change tact add they can surely add Maori to the list of disaffected supporters.                


  1. The mind boggles:

    'On top of Mahuta, you’ve got Shane Jones, Kelvin Davis and Moana Mackey'.

    Ouch! That's a helluva extra load she has to carry and on top of her existing weight.

    Perhaps Louisa Wall will win whatever electorate it is she won the nomination for. If she wins then she will increase the 'rainbow' presence in Labour.

    Perhaps Rino Tirikatene will win Te Tai Tonga - and maybe by default - unfortunately - as a backlash against the Maori Party's position on the takutai moana bill.

    Then again -- collectively Ngai Tahu knows what side its bread is buttered - and strategically what advance exists for them to support Labour? SOS?

    So what skill set will Rino bring into the House - apart from his name? He has a steep learning curve ahead of him and I doubt whether many will want to sit and wait for him to learn how to paint.

    And if the current opposition has other Maori candidates in Maori/general electorates -- perhaps those candidates need to let the rest of the motu know they exist and that they fly a red flag of opposition.

    I just cannot get excited about Labour - each time Goff bleats - whatever it is he bleats - that noise creates a distinct and active reaction from me -- hit the off switch - and fast.

  2. So, I trust this blog will overtly support National, if Labour is incompetent in every respect. National was the first to have Maori elected in a general seats,has recently promoted a Maori to cabinet, and Labour wants to get Maori in Parliament based on name recognition only (Tirikatene, Mahuta).

  3. On top off Tirakatene and Wall, both whom have good chances in their electorates, Labour is standing strong candidates in other Maori electorates and some very impressive Maori people have put their name forward for the party list.

    That said, I guess we have to wait until late April when they release their list.

  4. Kia ora Chris,

    In sum I agree with you. I think you have raised an interesting point re Ngai Tahu. Given Rahui's support for the MCA bill I imagine Solomon et al. will be shopping for a new MP. Whether that new MP will be Rino Tirakatene is uncertain. Labour does not have much to offer the corporate arm of Ngai Tahu whereas National and The Maori Party are offering state assets, PPP's etc...

    Kia ora Dave,

    This blog will support whoever the author likes. And the author does not like National. Nor Labour, The Maori Party or many other political parties. But in all seriousness I do not intend to take a partisan stand on any issue. I like to think i am fairly impartial, some may argue otherwise though. National has, at times, shown a degree of goodwill towards Maori but one must never lose sight of the fact that every move the Nats make is calculated. Politics drives them. Maori gains under National come down to capricious circumstances and the acquiescence of the party hierarchy. It has nothing to do with the Nats been champions of Maori interests.

    Kia ora anon,

    Can you please name some of these candidates?

  5. National and Labour is not important - what to Maori want!!! ?

  6. Morgan:
    I'd also be pleased to read / hear of / learn the 'names' of candidates for Labour.

    My intel has not id anyone for Labour -

    but I have learned today a wahine toa (background TV media/doco) is being 'groomed' under the tutelage of Hekia Parata;

    And that Key has reserved 4 top 10 list places for 'brown' candidates - which we know about - the Iceman and Inga and Inga. National will need this dynamic even if Georgina te Heuheu quits or stays- there is chit-chat she will retire this term.

    Anon: What do you think Maori want?
    In my view Maori voters could assimilate / liberate / adopt / and manipulate John Key's 'vision thingie' and 'branding' - to their advantage -- after all what better way to get brand recognition --and one that has been successfully tested in the market (as set out b Morgan above)!


  7. Kia ora unattachednz,

    Yes, National really appears to be taking the initiative in terms of Maori representation. I think they are strengthening their Maori presence with a view to gaining a greater share of the Maori vote and solidifying a long term Maori Party/National alliance. We cannot forget about Simon Bridges as well, a future National Party Prime Minister in my opinion. If the Nats secure a second term I am confident he will feature in Cabinet.

  8. It depends what the fallout from mining maori land, oil drilling off the east coast and asset sales, plus National not being willing to help maori by raising the minimum wage is.

    Do not forget that Metiria Turei from the greens is maori, as is Dave Clendon, perhaps they would welcome Hone and other into the party,

    and Unionist Matt McCarten and Syd Keepa are maori and then there are the maori radicals and and activists.

    So National may go for a maori vote, but what do they have on offer? a few assets to a couple of corporates..? that will not give them much support, maybe just a bit more money to throw at the maori party.

    Hone, Metiria and Matt McCarten are left wing maori leaders, who are the rightwing ones? The Iwi Leadership Group? who are unelected? would some of them look at parliament?

    Where does Winston Peters fit into the picture, will he decide to sit in the middle and also undermine the Iwi Leadership Group?

    Maori would be best to look at how Aotearoa can be protected and how their communities can be looked after than getting in bed with Rodney Hide and an asset salesman called John Key who sat beside Don Brash and rednecks not too long ago.

    National (and its rich white backers)is all about big business and itself, not maori and Aotearoa.

  9. Kia ora anon,

    I am of the view that mining Maori land will not go ahead. Make no mistake, the self proclaimed iwi leaders are arrogant and disconnected enough to go through with it, but Maori will never allow it. However, the fall out re assets sales, oil drilling and destructive social policy will probably be minimal because the opposition is failing to highlight the issues let alone build a narrative and of course the maori party stands mute. I think hardly any Maori outside of Tai Rawhiti are even aware plans to drill are afoot. National are making a concerted effort to lure Maori voters. It is too early to say whether any success will come of it. Of course the nats will not lure Maori with policy, policy is often absent in the game of politics. The nats will be targeting base emotion, identification and so on.

    There is no way the greens will allow Hone in. The Greens now frame themselves as an environmental party. They pitch directly to the middle class. Hone has no place in a middle class party.

    In terms of Winston I think we can safely assume he is hostile towards the ILG. I cannot link to the page but I do recall seeing Winston attack the ILG.

    In the end Maori need to play a patient game. True gains are a fair way off in my opinion. The best Maori can do is support rangatahi. Real change will come with my generation I feel.



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