May 25, 2011

A few thoughts

I haven’t had time to blog much over the past few days so I’ll briefly cover a few issues here:

Labour Party Conference

The Labour Party held their annual conference over the weekend with President Moira Coatsworth emphasising the party’s commitment to the Maori seats. This is, in my opinion, promising and sensible. Retaining and regaining the Maori seats makes strategic sense. Labour needs to reduce National’s post-election options and the most practical way to do so is to weaken the Maori Party vote and loosen the party’s grip in Te Hauauru and, arguably, Tamaki Makaurau. Without the Maori Party the Nats will find it more difficult to maintain a “moderate” pretence and, ultimately, command the numbers in the House.  


The National Party has selected Claudette Hauiti to contest the Mangere electorate, a safe Labour seat. In my opinion this move represents National’s response to the increasing number of Maori turning to National. As the Maori middle class grows so to does the number of Maori voting National. The Nats are responding to this by increasing the number of Maori candidates they stand (for example Leonie Hapata in Palmerston North - UPDATE - She isn't actually Maori - my mistake), extending concessions to corporate iwi (where much of the Maori middle class is drawn from) and generally building the perception that National is no longer hostile towards Maori aspirations (think the Maori Party/National Party coalition and the symbolism that it embodies). All of this is unfortunate, the Nats, rather than formulating sound Maori policy, are relying on tokenism and symbolism to win Maori votes. Great approach to politics, shit approach to government. 

Turia on Poverty

Tariana Turia says Maori must stop blaming poverty for child abuse. What a classic Tory line. Turia is an extreme social conservative who opposes abortion and is, apparently, a strong advocate for personal responsibility. Although I find Turia’s comments one dimensional, I must admit that she is correct in one sense; poverty does not annul the responsibility a child abuser must bear. However, Turia should consider the drivers of social dysfunction before jumping ahead of herself. Poverty is, more often than not, the chief reason why child abuse occurs in Maori whanau.

Maori Seats in Local Government

A number of Councils are undertaking a Maori representation review, as required under the Local Government Act 2001. At this stage it appears the New Plymouth District Council is the only Council considering Maori seats. The chances of success appear slim though. Three separate community boards have rejected the idea and Grey Power is opposed. I am fairly gutted, yet not surprised, with the response of the community. The Taranaki is hardly a region of progressive thought and racial harmony - and this is why Maori seats are a must. There is no appreciation or understanding of Maori concerns at the Council table - only a collection of individuals who reflect the ignorance of the general community and, consequently, propagate anti-Maori policy.


Finally, cheers to Denis Welch for his generous comments on Radio New Zealand re me and this blog.


  1. Interesting analysis. I am curious. When you refer to child abuse caused by poverty do you mean violence or sexual abuse or both?

  2. Kia ora Morgan, Firtsly, just wanted to say how great it is to have a Maori poltiical commentator who posts regulalrly and on a broad range of kaupapa. On this post though, what do you mean by Maori middle class being drawn from corporate iwi? And come to think of it, what do you mean when you refer to Maori middle class: "middle" in terms of the Maori median income is very different to the national median income (and also different in terms of education achievement and employment profile). So I am not sure whether you mean middle class froma Pakeha perspective (but with Maori ethnicity), or whether you are using a different measure?

    Really, doesn't this just highlight the fact that class is really a Pakeha concept, and although Maori unemployment and social exclusion is a massive problem in this country, class itself is only a poor proxy for indigenous values?

  3. Hi Phil,

    I was referring to violence. Sexual abuse is often driven by historical factors such as sexual abuse during childhood and so on. I am sure poverty is a contributing factor in many cases, probably not a primary factor though.

  4. Just to say enjoy your blog, your thoughts and your wit! Have been an avid reader for a long time and love that I dont always agree but much respect for your analysis. Kia ora!

  5. Would you rather that National not select any Maori candidates?

    It seems that you are disappointed that Maori would no longer vote along racial lines once they start earning some money.

    I would observe the same things you have regarding National recognising that there are votes for them amongst Maori and say that they aren't trying to win Maori votes, but are trying to build a bigger tent.

    Maori aren't race traitors for voting for National - they are self-interested.

  6. My understanding is that Leonie Hapeta is Pakeha and got the Hapeta name when marrying her husband Brendon Hapeta. Her maiden was Leonie Bull, and she has no Maori blood.

    Regarding New Plymouth Maori wards issue how many Maori actually want Maori seats at local government. perhaps they can only be considered after a petition by one tenth of all Maori living in a city or district, which could indicate a community need. I think in local government the threshold should be high as few issues around streetlighting, rubbish collection, libary services or rates afftect maori different to the general population (whereas the central government deals with all sorts of maori issues including treaty settlements)

  7. Did I say that Kyotolaw? No, I didn't. I am suggesting National should formulate, or at least signal some intention to formulate, substantive Maori policy. Labour creates separate Maori policy, so to the Greens and other left parties. The Nats, however, rely on tokenism and meaningless gestures. I am unsure what you are trying to get at suggesting that I am disappointed Maori are not voting along racial lines. Maori have, more often than not, voted Labour en mass. This can hardly be considered voting along racial lines. Maori have never voted along racial lines. If that were true we would see most Maori voters turn to the Maori Party.

    It could be argued that Maori are race traitors for voting National. But I will not open that debate in the comments section of this post.


    Thanks, Nicholas, for clearing up the Leonie Hapeta misunderstanding. I was under the impression she had Maori whakapapa.

    From what I have been able to gauge from the media and facebook (I know, very unscientific) most Maori want Maori seats on the NPDC. You are correct in one sense that many LG issues do not affect Maori differently. However, Maori, especially in terms of land use issues, have a tangible interest in how LG operates. For example, more often than not Maori are consulted inadequately re resource consent applications etc... I think many Maori hope that Maori seats will remedy this and similar situations.

  8. As I suspected from your final comment in your reply Morgan, I was not wrong to read that into your post. I look forward to your post on the main blog on the topic of race traitors.

    National selecting Maori candidates (or those married to Maori in this case?) isn't the party trying to put one over the Maori electorate. Selecting Maori to hold elected office for the National party isn't an evil masterplan to get Maori to betray their roots, its appealing to wealthier Maori that "Yes, you too can have a seat at the table, we're not excluding you." Its aspirational, just like John Key's state house to millionaire story. Don't underestimate its appeal for the average Joe Bloggs - even if you aren't rich, you still want to think that one day you can be.

    When I said that Maori have tended to vote along racial lines, it refers to the fact that Maori have historically voted for parties of the left (Maori, Labour, Te Mana et al), not for racially based parties, which as you point out is a recent phenomenon.

    I'm very interested on your views as to why Maori shouldn't vote for parties of the right, even when their socio-economic position changes and such a vote would be a self-interested one. Surely you aren't saying that you have to be poor to be a real Maori?

  9. Clearly, we read the situation differently. I do not think National’s approach has anything to do with the politics of aspiration, rather the politics of getting elected. Aspiration is secondary and, in my opinion, an overly charitable interpretation. Standing the likes of Claudette Hauiti, who I am sure is a great person, says to Maori “yes, you can feel comfortable voting for us because we look like you too” – what it does not address is the lack of Maori policy nor does it signal that National actually care about Maori issues.

    I do not think Maori should not vote for parties of the right. Voting is, ultimately, an individual’s choice. But I do think voting for right wing parties is not in the best interests of most Maori i.e. 90% (even Maori on a middle or high income). There are compelling reasons for Maori not to vote National. Think the MCA raupatu, the ETS, ACC changes, unfair tax changes (including the rise in GST), the violent increase in living costs, the National Water Policy Statement, the proposed changes to WFF and KiwiSaver, no funding for transport for kura kaupapa and so and so on and so on. This is just a list off of the top of my head. Further research will undoubtedly uncover more reasons not to vote National.

  10. Most of the reasons you list are a reason for anyone who is dependent on the state for income or benefits not to vote for National. Most are not Maori-specific.

    Many people look at that exact same list and say these are very good reasons to vote for National.

    I put it to you that the reason that most Maori shouldn't vote for National is that they are poor and dependent on the State as opposed to the fact that they are Maori.

  11. I disagree. The policy on that list affects middle income New Zealanders as well, but especially those dependent on the state, as you say, and the working poor. I actually think we have come to a point where we agree, albeit somewhat agree. Most Maori should not vote for National becuase most Maori are poor. Having said that most Maori should not vote for National becuase national is hostile towards Maori cultural values such as kaitiakitanga

  12. "Turia is an extreme social conservative" & a neoliberal to boot. Tariana is the Maori version of Margaret Thatcher

  13. how the hell do you find time to do this Morgan, Bloody good on ay tho boy,

    Uncle Siege

  14. Bloody hell Seige. Shouldn't you be studying



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