Jul 22, 2011

Katene and Tirikatene, the 3 R's and Iwi

A few issues have caught my eye over the past week:


Rahui Katene has opened the battle in Te Tai Tonga attacking Labour over their choice of candidate, Rino Tirikatene. Apparently, Rino Tirikatene comes from the same Hapu and this is, according to Rahui Katene, unfair. I fail to see things from her point of view. Rahui cannot attack Rino on his substantive record, given he is new to parliamentary politics, but if she doesn’t find a more potent attack line she will not run into much success. Rahui also claims:

However she is demanding evidence to back up claims she stands to to lose her electorate.

Pundits are picking she will lose her Te Tai Tonga seat to Labour at this year's election.

Ms Katene wants to know where they're getting their information from as there haven't been any polls conducted in her electorate.

"The only poll that I'm aware of is the one that we're doing our ourselves and that is showing a far different story," she told Newstalk ZB. "It is showing that I am well ahead of any other opponent."

Readers will know I am picking Rino Tirikatene to snatch Te Tai Tonga. The Maori Party’s polling may indicate that Rahui is ahead, but as we move closer to the election I expect the gap, if it even exists, to close and Rino Tirikatene to open up a ten point lead. Rahui will lose a significant amount of support as a reflex action against her support for the MCA act, GST and, generally speaking, refusing to take a principled position on issues like the ETS. Rahui Katene is also the invisible Maori Party MP. Turia and Sharples are the leaders, Flavell is the workhorse and Hone was the outspoken activist. Rahui was always on the fringes and, in my opinion, has nothing of substance to stand on. Having said that, Rahui may have solidified her support in Christchurch. By all accounts Rahui has provided excellent support to her constituents. However, Wellington, Dunedin and Invercargill remain marginal. Invercargill and Dunedin are working class strongholds while Wellington may swing towards Labour in the wake of public sector cuts and strained relations between tangata whenua and the Wellington City Council. I should elaborate on the local council point. Although relations between WCC and local iwi bear no relation to central government, relations between iwi and any form of government influence the mood of the people. At the moment the mood, in Wellington at least, is anti-government. 

Hone Harawira continues his simplicity tone

Mana leader Hone Harawira is calling for a return to the three Rs.
A report from the New Zealand Institute has identified under-investment in training for jobs and careers and failure to engage children at school as being behind high levels of youth and Maori unemployment.

But Mr Harawira says academics and administrators have been experimenting with kid’s lives for too long, and he wants to see more emphasis on reading, writing and arithmetic. 

First of all, the New Zealand Institute is a right-wing think-tank. Secondly, Harawira may be making things a little too simple. I have no issue with “the three R’s” as the basis of children’s education, but I do take issue with Hone’s attack on “stuff about teaching people to think”. There is nothing more important than equipping young people with the skills they need to use their minds. The three R’s, much like the Cambridge system, merely encourages rote learning and the use of mundane processes. The strength of the New Zealand education system, as it exists at the moment, is that young people are taught the skills they need to problem solve, think creatively and, generally speaking, use their minds. The strength of systems like NCEA is that students are encouraged to think as opposed to recall. 

Hone sounds like the Nat’s when he calls for a return to the old ways. However, the old ways may be outdated. In an increasingly diverse world a strong focus on reading writing and arithmetic may no longer be necessary. Sure, everyone needs to know how to do the basics, but everyone also needs to know how to use the basics. It is not enough to merely ‘know’ something. I will be disappointed if the three R’s forms the basis of Te Mana’s thinking in education. 


Parekura Horomia has made a good call

Labour's Maori affairs spokesperson says it's time for iwi to think about the economic condition of their members, rather than concentrate on building up the tribal putea. 

Parekura Horomia says ordinary Maori families are going through tough times, with bills mounting up, their jobs under threat and the services they rely on under threat from National's privatisation agenda.
He says iwi should start using the economic muscle they have built up.

Agreed. Some Iwi, Tainui and Ngai Tahu in particular, are in a position to begin distributing benefits to their members and, more importantly, offering opportunities for their members to improve their conditions. This could include offering interest free loans to small businesses and first time home buyers, developing community housing in partnership with the government and offering their members first preference for employment in, for example, Iwi tourism ventures.

Of course responsibility should not be devolved to Iwi, it is still the role of the State to improve the conditions of its people, but Iwi have a role to play in partnership with the government.

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