Apr 1, 2011

Will Parekura Horomia retire?

I think it is certainly plausible. Parekura has yet to confirm whether he will stand for re-election, either in Ikaroa-Rawhiti or on the list.

At the moment Parekura may feel somewhat undervalued and excluded. Parekura is the leader of the Maori caucus, the kaumatua of the Labour Party and, formerly, a successful cabinet minister and senior public servant. This demands a degree of respect. However, from what I have seen, Phil Goff is not treating Parekura with any respect.

Phil Goff is running Maori policy unilaterally. The Maori caucus is excluded, for example when Goff ruled out Hone Harawira, and undervalued, for example when Parekura was demoted. To top it all off Goff offended, in a deep way, the Maori caucus with his “Nationhood” speech. It is entirely conceivable that Parekura is feeling rather disillusioned.

We can probably take in wider factors as well. Parekura is, or is approaching, 60. Time is not on his side. After another electoral cycle he will be too old to explore life beyond politics, or at least it fair to assume so. And why tie yourself to a sinking ship? Labour is heading towards oblivion - is it worth staying to pick up the pieces?

Perhaps the strongest evidence that Parekura is contemplating retirement is his non-denial as to whether he will stand again. If you are standing – you’re standing – and there is little reason to have people suspect otherwise. However, if you are not standing, and you occupy a sensitive seat and sensitive position within the party, you make an announcement when the situation is favourable.

If Parekura does step down, it will be a bad look for Labour. It doesn’t look flash when a recently demoted MP decides to call it quits. But more importantly Labour will also struggle to retain Ikaroa Rawhiti. Parekura is, by all accounts, an excellent electorate MP and a personable guy. In 2005 and 2008 the Maori Party candidate did well, but did not come within striking distance. This, in my opinion, comes down to Parekura’s personal following in the electorate and, to a lesser extent, his tribal connections. However, if you deduct the personal following and whakapapa factor, Labour’s hold appears very tenuous. A strong Maori Party candidate could swing the vote.

Should Parekura retire, Shane Jones is ready to fill the void with Kelvin Davis at his side. Nanaia is stepping back, in the interests of her whanau, and good on her for doing so. Labour needs to rebuild and Parekura must decide whether he wants be a part of that. My opinion is, Parekura has done enough for Labour, better to step back on your own terms. But above all, It’s a new generations turn.  

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2011: Yes, I am a former staffer for Parekura. When I wrote this post I was not working for Parekura so this post isn't a piece of inside knowledge. As we know Parekura is standing for reelection and will probably win again.  

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