May 17, 2011

Here today, gone tomorrow

Clouds are gathering as the Maori Party continues to bleed support. The latest Horizon Poll puts Te Mana marginally ahead of the Maori Party and now Marty Mars has announced he will be joining the Mana Party:

I have sent my membership into the Mana Party, and like John Minto I have never joined a political party before, but the time for sitting on the fence is over - now is the time to seize the opportunity and create history. 

Marty was one of the only Maori Party supporters in the blogosphere. By my reckoning there are no pro-Maori Party bloggers left. On the other hand Te Mana enjoys the support of my blog, or more accurately my sympathy – I do not support any particular political party at the moment, Mars 2 Earth, some authors at The Standard and Tumeke. The same is true in the mainstream media. Rawiri Taonui, who is perhaps the most prominent Maori political commentator, expressed roundabout support for Te Mana. Willie Jackson, who regularly offers commentary on Maori politics, has also expressed support for Te Mana.

What should be of most concern to the Maori Party is that they have lost their activists as well as their academics. Essentially, there is no structural depth to the Maori Party. Some of the party’s most experienced and talented activists have switched allegiances. Think Annette Sykes, Potaua from, Tim Selwyn and so on. Maintaining a core of experienced activists would have guaranteed the party’s short term survival at least. But now they must rely on the National Party and a small faction of loyalists to, among other things, run campaigns, draft advice and organise party events. Ultimately the Maori Party does not have the numbers on the ground. The party’s academics have also dropped away, for example Moana Jackson and Margaret Mutu. The Maori Party must now rely on their parliamentary staff to perform extra-parliamentary work, such as policy formulation. Lastly, Electorate branches in Te Tai Tokerau and Waiariki are in tatters. The party never created a youth branch, they have no presence on university campuses (where a wealth of talent can be tapped) and membership is declining as former supporters chose not to renew their membership. The prognosis is grim.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that the latest Horizon poll puts the Mana Party slightly ahead of the Maori Party. Whether this becomes part of a trend remains to be seen. Now Bryce Edwards makes the point that the Mana Party can be at 2.3% and not affect the Maori Party at all. This is an excellent point and demonstrates that the Mana Party is pitching to a supplementary base. Yes, Te Mana is aiming for the tino rangatiratanga vote alongside the Maori Party, but Te Mana is also aiming for the far left vote and the non-vote (meaning the vote of people who usually do not vote). The Mana Party does not have to savage the Maori Party vote in order to reach the 3.5% target.

To conclude, things are looking down for the Maori Party. With the budget coming this Thursday things probably won’t be looking any better. The Maori Party copped a fair amount of criticism for their support of budget 2010, mainly due to the unfair tax switch, and it is difficult to see why things would be much different under what will without doubt be an austere budget 2011.


  1. Now that the Labour foreshore and seabed act has been redrafted and namechanged to suit the Maori Party, they no longer have a mandate for anything.

    So now they need a new flagship policy to take back to the electorate for continuing support and i'm afraid a policy of just being anti-Harawira isn't going to cut it.

    time for the axe to fall.

  2. Hi Morgan, a couple of points. (1) You shouldn't put too much credence in the Horizon Poll, which is based on a non-random sample. (2) If you do believe the Horizon Poll, then the three major sources for Mana's vote are (in order) the Maori Party, Labour, and the Greens. There doesn't seem to be a huge group of people who chose not to vote last time but intend to vote this time, for Mana or otherwise. According to Horizon's numbers, the Maori Party have lost *most* of their voters from last time, but have compensated by picking up voters from National and Labour. Personally, I find this hard to believe.

    If Mana does hit 3.5%, I think the breakdown will be something like 1% from the Maori Party, 1% from Labour, 0.5% from the Greens, 0.5% from other parties, and 0.5% from non-voters last time.

  3. Bradluen, Horizon explicitly said that a small percentage of the Mana Vote was from United Future. You missed that.

  4. We over at Roarprawn have always supported the Maori Party.

  5. To paraphrase something Richard Prebble once said to Matt McCarten - your support is like the support of a hangman's rope round my neck! Morgan, you are openly and massively pro-Mana party, so please don't deny it. It's okay to support Hone, just don't deny it.

    Brad Luen is right - Horizon Polls have such a dubious methodology that their results are very dubious.

    @ Dave - United have consistently had less than 1% in party support for years, so they don't have any significant support to give to Te Mana party, or to anyone else ;) Horizon should have realised that before putting their foot in their mouths.

    When looking at poll results for Maori electorates specifically, we have to be very careful about the polling methods, samples sizes, and non-response rates. Remember, if Mana are polling 2.3% with a margin of error of say 2%, then we are really saying that we are 95% confident that Mana are somewhere between 0.3% and 4.3% support.

    That's when we realise that media reporting of polls is usually kinda shallow ;(

  6. Yes, I am pro-Mana and everyone knows it - but I'm not voting Mana nor I am doing any work for them.

    Horizon doesn't use dubious methodology, internet panel polls are less reliable, but the validity of their results largely stands. Having said that I don't put much faith in a single pollster attempting to poll Maori voters. They always get it wildly wrong.

  7. As if other political commentators don't have political leanings; just take a look at Matthew Hooten, David Farrar or Chris Trotter! Roarprawn - I took a look at your website and see if you haven't posted anything in ages and no-one follows what you say. I think Morgan your reading of the situation is correct and keep up the good analysis!

  8. Anon - There are a few writers over at Roarprawn. Roarprawn is a well known supporter of the Maori Party. And we post pretty much every day - on thing s Maori, and Maori fisheries issues. We really enjoy Maui Street. We like Marty Mars as well and he is a permanent link on our site. We dont necessarily agree with all they say but we certainly enjoy reading their contributions.

  9. Hi Brunette and BB,

    I completely forgot about you guys - sorry. When I wrote this post I only had left bloggers in mind. I need to keep in mind that the Maori Party isn't, in a conventional sense, a left party and can move across the political spectrum and thus enjoys support from the right as well.

    Hi bradleun,

    You are right re Horizon polls. I tend to take their polls as a general indication of what way the wind is blowing rather than an accurate statement of the electoral math.

  10. "Remember, if Mana are polling 2.3% with a margin of error of say 2%, then we are really saying that we are 95% confident that Mana are somewhere between 0.3% and 4.3% support."

    NO NO NO! Stated MoE applies at 50% but gets progressively smaller the further you get away from 50%!

  11. Not sure about the polls they can say anything what i know however is that the support for the Maori Party is strong especially in the south, my question would be, where are all these people going to go after the election? when the Maori party is still in governemnt and the mana party has maybe one Mp on the sidelines , my observations are that the party cannot survive past Hone it has no infrastructure it has no funding it is attracting academics and a few others but who will do the work who will organise outside of Te tai Tokerau and how are decisions made and policies decided other than HONE SAYs a fly by nighter party such a shame the Maori party will of course welcome them back and they will return.

  12. There is only one poll I would trust and that is Horizon. The other polls exclude a 30% don't know vote, and they don't compare results to what the elecorate is. My only criticism is that they are slightly skewed to the right in their methodology which is online.

    Anonymous June 4: Support for Mana is weak in the South, correct but that does not mean the Maori Party is strong there. The strongest candidate in Te Tai Tonga is Rirokatene of Labour.

    Most likely scenario is the Mana and Maori candidates attack each other and let Labour come through the middle.



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