Jun 23, 2011

The Herald and Te Mana's policy drop

Rubbish. Yvonne Tahana reports on an apparent Hone Harawira’s outburst at a hui in West Auckland. It is a total non-story delivered without a pinch of context. It is just a collection of statements that could be interpreted in a thousand different ways.

Hone is immediately framed in a negative light. The media was becoming increasingly desperate for a Hone Harawira “outburst” story.

This whole issue is about feeding the narrative. The media knows people will react to this story. This has nothing to do with informing our democracy. The Herald wants to sell more newspapers and further their anti-Hone agenda.

Anywho, that is enough whinging for today. One story the media have not covered this week is the release of the Mana Party’s treaty policy. From a strategic point of view, it made sense to release the party’s treaty policy during the byelection. All northern Iwi are engaged in the treaty settlement process with many approaching the final stages. Treaty settlements are a live issue up north and there is considerable interest in the Mana Party’s position on the issue. Having said that, I would have approached the first policy drop differently. As far as I can tell the Mana Party did not create any expectation - there was no formal launch among the faithful and the mainstream media. The party just seemed to quietly slip it in through the Māori media. It came out of nowhere really.

In my opinion the Mana Party missed the opportunity to create a talking point. Treaty settlement policy is, to be very honest, boring and does not really excite anyone outside of Iwi leadership and other stakeholders. It is not tangible policy in the classic sense either. With treaty policy you cannot wow people with big numbers and hopeful projections. Te Mana should have released policy that people have a tangible interest/close connection with. Jobs policy for example. The byelection provided the party with the perfect opportunity to throw out some progressive policy that will excite New Zealanders – not just Māori with a direct stake in the issue. In between now and the election Hone and Te Mana will not enjoy the sort of intense media coverage they have received over the past 4 weeks. All eyes were and are on Te Tai Tokerau. It was, therefore, a prime opportunity to release some big policy. Vote winning policy. Substantive policy can wait because, to be honest, no one outside of the political beltway is even interested in substantive policy. It was the perfect opportunity to launch the details of a financial transactions tax and perhaps throw in a surprise like “Te Mana will increase the top tax threshold from $70,000 to $100,000”. I am sure many New Zealanders agree with the idea of easing the tax burden on individuals and shifting it towards the finance sector. This sort of policy announcement would stir debate in the media, academia, the business world and in homes.

Ultimately, an opportunity missed. Don’t get me wrong though, I appreciate that Te Mana is releasing policy. I quite like it too. Hopefully I have time to analyse it in depth. This is probably my last blog post until Sunday. Hopefully I will be blogging on Hone’s victory.


  1. yes that struck me as a fairly obvious beat-up from the Herald. commenting that he would have expected to be informed of a change in the speakers is hardly a 'shock outburst'.

    still, i think Hone's supports, a bit like Winston's, are somewhat innoculated against relentless media smearing of their candidate.

  2. My thoughts exactly. It seems like a natural reaction coated in some rather sad spin. I think you've touched on a good point re supporters been innoculated against media smears. That never crossed my mind.

  3. Hone himself doesn't have a very good record of turning up when he's supposed to. How about the Parliamentary trips overseas, he went walkabout in Northern Territory and didn't go to The Hague, but instead scarpered to Paris. Or how about the time he didn't turn up to a hui with Te Ururoa Flavell, when the mediation talks were being held. Oh yeah, how about forgetting to turn up to vote on the Marine & Coastal Bill. He's got to realise that he has to be careful when he blows his cool at other peoples misfortunes. He blew a huge chance to make a positive impression at that meeting in West Auckland and if he did indeed swear then he should be more careful next time. As for complaining about driving, he was the one that created the by-election in the first place, so he has to look willing to go any place at any time to win votes. Afterall, he is aiming to be an MP that represents all of his electorate not just the Far North.

  4. yeah that's right Lilz, who cares about a legitimate mandate after all

  5. I recently switched to Herald Online from Stuff thinking I would receive unbiased reporting. I was wrong. While it's an improvement on Stuff, the Maori-related headlines in the past week have been shocking.

    "Hone's dated a pakeha but never a man": A story about Hone not being homosexual. As if that matters.

    "Maori TV skips selection process": Maori TV quite legally promoting someone to a top position.

    Where do they find these journos?

  6. Neutral journalism is a romance.

    Because Yvonne Tahana is a Pakeha married to a Maori, this to The Herald means she has legitimate reason to write about the Maori World. The Pakeha journalistic viewpoint of the Maori World is more blatant in the The Dominion and The Press, because they just have Pakeha journos. It will always have this journalistic slant in NZ because the mainstream Pakeha reader wants this, need this. It just feels safe. I the minority Pakeha always read, listen, watch journalism & history about another culture from Pakeha Kiwis like myself with a grain of salt.

    If I want get the Maori journalistic world view, I read, listen, and watch journalism by Maori journos run by entirely Maori- well, not entirely by Maori yet, but it's still young days for your and our people.

    Anyway, looking forward to your report on the Tai Tokerau byelection win tonight or tomorrow, Godfrey!



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