Mar 17, 2011

On Hone Harawira's new party (again)

We all know Hone Harawira is a Maori nationalist. However, as I have said on numerous occasions, this does not preclude the possibility that Hone will form a broad left wing party. Although tino rangatiratanga is not entirely compatible with the notions and values of social democracy, it is not impossible to reconcile the two. For a more in depth discussion on why I think Hone will form a broad left wing party, as opposed to an alternative Maori party, see this post.

In this post I want to draw your attention to comments made by Annette Sykes:

Rotorua Maori lawyer Annette Sykes says Pakeha should have a major part to play in any new political party set up dissident MP Home Harawira.

She says the Maori and Pakeha heros that have emerged during the Christchurch quake are indicative of a new New Zealand that any new Maori political movement must incorporate.

This indicates, to me at least, that Annette, and surely by extension Hone, realise that an alternative Maori party is impractical. Annette knows that the numbers do not exist to support the Maori Party, an alternative Maori party, the Greens and of course Labour. Any new party will need to broaden its appeal. Matt McCarten, one of Hone’s advisors, also knows that an alternative Maori party will not work and any new party will require some amount of working class appeal and a focus on beneficiaries, both Maori and Pakeha.

The only circumstance in which an alternative Maori party makes any political sense is if the end goal is to destroy the current Maori Party. I feel that this is unlikely. Having said that Annette has given a soft indication that she may run against Te Ururoa in Waiariki. If she does, and she has not ruled it out, then I think it is safe to assume the end goal is to destroy the Maori Party. This would be terribly unwise. For all of their sins the Maori Party occupies a brilliant strategic niche and, in likelihood, will be in an incredibly strong position post-election.

Hone must realise that destroying the Maori Party also opens the door for the Nat’s to launch a full frontal attack on all things Maori. At the moment the Maori Party is a moderating force on the Nats. The Nats know that they cannot attack things Maori without backlash from their most reliable long-term coalition partner. With Act on its last legs and Dunne looking shaky in Ohariu the Nats realise that the Maori Party is their best shot in terms of governing into the future, therefore the party must be kept on side.  

Ultimately, I think Hone will form a new left party rather than an alternative Maori party. Consider what Matt McCarten has this to say:

If there was a contest I think Tariana Turia and Hone would be the only ones left standing. I think it would be a tragedy for Maori.

Matt knows and would have informed Hone that the only benefactors of an alternative Maori Party will be Labour. In Hone were to stand candidates in the other Maori electorates then Labour would storm home. It would be an epic strategic blunder.

The animosity between Hone and his former colleagues should not be underestimated. But ultimately both sides need to realise that politics is bigger than their egos.


  1. Kia ora Morgan,

    I tend to disagree with you on this one. There is plenty of room for a 'left maori party', I don't see why maori have to put up with no choice. The kaupapa determines the support and anyone can give their party vote to whomever they consider best represents them. Why couldn't a maori represent pakeha? Plenty of pakeha represent maori apparently. The party list would represent the people who believe in the kaupapa. We don't need another generalist party where maori interests are subordinate. We need a party where the kaupapa reflects the concerns and voice of people and that is why i agree with Annette that all people must be involved, it is inclusive, working towards tino rangatiratanga, equality and fairness.

    This meme of infighting is incorrect IMO - yes there is competition and dislike but no ones forgetting they are maori. This is the way we have always fought and there are many examples within our histories. No one is out to destroy anyone else apart from the labour party wanting to destroy both Hone and the maori party - a way back from purgatory for them they suppose.

    No doubt I am an idealist - I believe that with the correct kaupapa, well articulated, simple messages then a following of people from all backgrounds will support a new left maori party.

  2. Kia ora Marty,

    There is certainly room on the political spectrum for a left Maori party. However, I do not think there are enough active Maori voters to sustain the current Maori Party and a left Maori party. I want to see the Maori Party remain, I still hold out hope that the party can reform and repent. In any case I think the Maori Party has done well in terms of moderating the Nat. Having said that the Nats have done better in terms of radicalising the Maori Party i.e. turning the party into a right-wing vehicle.

    In theory, a Maori party could represent Pakeha. But I am not so idealistic as to believe that more than 1000 Pakeha would actually vote for such a party. I even think the word "Maori", in a way, acts as the first barrier for many Pakeha. It implies exclusivity and does not convey the broad nature of a party. At the end of the day most Pakeha would be very uncomfortable in voting for a Maori party - even if that party represents them.

    Having said that your logic, in terms of needing a party where Maori interests are not subordinate, is very strong. I agree strongly.

    It will be interesting to see what Hone comes up with. I think he, personally, wants a new Maori party with a left wing basis. However, I think those around him are pushing for a broad left wing party (with a strong Maori focus of course).

  3. Kia Ora Morgan

    Just a question, but have you ever been to any one of Hone's korero that he has taken around the motu?

    In regards to your above statements I highly doubt it, because your own korero couldn't be more wrong! Destroy the Maori Party? Um, I know for one and that is speaking from someone in Tai Tokerau (Hone represents our voice) that is not 'OUR' goal at all!

    In regards to his so called New Party..well thats only going to happen if the people in Tai Tokerau say its going to happen! After all it aint a HONE SHOW! Hone will always be first and foremost loyal to the people and their issues in the North, he has always stood by that and has never wavered from us! We in Tai Tokerau realise that the issues we face are the same for all people in Aotearoa, Maori and Pakeha alike and if we support a strong voice such as Hones then why not let that voice lead us all in least we know who and what we are going to get!

  4. Tena koe Morgan...

    Good to read a view online that is not a Māori Party bashing view.
    I believe there is a silent Māori Party support base in the Māori roll constituency, who see your comment:

    "Hone must realise that destroying the Maori Party also opens the door for the Nat’s to launch a full frontal attack on all things Maori."..... being the most important issue of concern involving Hone's actions.

    As time passes it is clear that any new Māori political Party will only dilute the Māori voice in Govt, not add, there are only 7 Māori seats, and the existing Policies of the Māori Party will only be duplicated.

    Any ambitions to seek Pro Māori membership on the General Roll, will be seen as unprincipled by the General Roll majority, and Hone's credibility is already tainted by a perception of unreliability - When push comes to shove.

    The numbers will stack against the Māori Party, until someone in the Caucus starts playing Hone's game, and speaks out about their ex member's shift.

    Matariki has been designated the time for the Māori Party to re - look at the issues to present to the Māori constituency.

    I will endure the vitriol until then.


  5. Tenakoe Morgan

    The "left/right" paradigm is a 19th century European political/philosophical dinosaur, and is based on the old nurture vs nature debate, long ago dismissed as irrelevant in a world that accepts the reality of both perspectives...

    "Left" and "Right" wing are similar European distortions of reality. They are not mutually exclusive, and value can be had by using both economic models to create newer, more efficient economic systems.

    The "Maori Party" is another political term that has created a false reality. It's a bit like the "New Zealand Party", totally nonsensical, and, in fact, a distortion of the truth.

    The "Maori Party" does not represent Maori. It represents a perspective created by it's founders, like any other political party. Similarly, a new "Hone" party could no more claim to represent Maori than the Nats, so to discuss his new party as another "Maori Party", dividing the loyalties of the "Maori" electorate, is bull dung.

    Maori will use their heads and vote however they want, some to better "the people", some to better themselves.

    I picked the Maori Party for my electorate vote last time. I supported Hone's ummm lack of support at first, but was then treated to a most unMaori diatribe from him at Waitangi, hurling abuse at a man I consider a kaumatua in our city. He crossed the line there, and lost my support.

    Should he create a new "left" party, I'm out of it. He'll never get my vote again. Nothing has entrapped our people as much as welfare dependency. Hone appears to believe in our inferiority, and considers larger benefits ours by right. Garbage. Utter garbage. What we need to do is believe in ourselves.

    We were once the most dynamic culture on the planet, and could still be, with a tiny bit of self belief.

    E tu e hoa ma, ahakoa te "politics". Get off your comfortable middle class bums and stand tall. We don't NEED anything.... eh.... we got it all already.

    PS Oops. that turned into a ramble... pardon me...

  6. Hi anon,

    I did not say that Hone's definite goal is to destroy the Maori Party. I merely speculated that it may be a driving factor behind Hone's behaviour. I quote:

    "The only circumstance in which an alternative Maori party makes any political sense is if the end goal is to destroy the current Maori Party. I feel that this is unlikely."

    I am sure it is not the goal of TTT, however it may factor in the thinking of Hone's advisors. Hone has already announced that he will form a new party within the month.

    Hi Eddie,

    You are perhaps right in saying that a new party will only replicate the policies of the Maori Party. I think where we disagree is in terms of the wisdom of a new party. I believe the Maori voice will actually be strengthened. A new party would push pro-Maori policies from the left while the Maori Party would push pro-Maori policies from the right.

    Hi Reble,

    The left/right paradigm is useful in a generic way. Upon close examination fallacies emerge, however it is a widely, and indeed easily, understood paradigm therefore I use it.

    I think your comment re the Maori Party reflecting the perspective of its founders is useful, yet open to debate. I tend to take the view that the party has been captured by a corporate agenda. I do not think the party, as it is today, reflects the original perspective of its founders.

    I also disagree re Maori having it all. We don't. We have fuck all. Try telling a DPB mum in Otara that Maori have it all, try telling that to an abused child in Kawerau, try telling that to a jobless man in Naenae. Maori are, to quote Kelvin Davis, "sicker, dumber, poorer", in comparison to the rest of NZ. Self belief is worth only so much. A little individual drive will not help Maori. Change has to be effected from the very top.



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