Aug 8, 2011

Mana Party AGM

The Mana Party AGM was held over the weekend in Auckland. I don't have time to write a substantive post so I’ll list a few observations I’ve made (for the record I did not attend):

·         Mana is Maori led, but working class focussed. Two socialist (McCarten and Minto) and two Maori nationalists (Harawira and Sykes) form the head of the party. Tim Selwyn attributes this to Matt McCarten attempting to reconcile the two factions of the party – a smart move in my opinion. 

·         Mana will target the party vote. Mana will hope to attract disgruntled Green/Labour voters, the entire Maori Party vote and non-voters. 

·         Mana will stand in all seven Maori seats. Mana will hope to stand high profile candidates who can create talking points. Mana does not expect to win all of the electorates; rather the party sees standing in all seven electorates as a profile building exercise. 

·         Mana risks becoming a party of recycled politicians. The top brass of the party reads like a socialist party from the 80’s – Bradford, McCarten, Minto, Jackson – these guys are yesterday’s (wo)men. Sure, they have a part to play, but Mana needs an injection of new blood to remain relevant and avoid been labelled a party of old hacks. 

·         Mana enjoys access to a brilliant policy team which includes academic Veronica Tawhai and the amazing Jane Kelsey (I hope she is a top 5 list candidate). 

·         Mana is relying on prominent Unite members, for example Gerard Hehir, for strategic advice and campaigning infrastructure/expertise. 

·         Mana branches are now established all over the country, however most branches seem to be concentrated in the upper half of the North Island. 

·         Mana must attract experts. It is difficult to attract Maori political specialists because most, if not all, are working for existing parties and are, as a result, loyal to those parties. Mana does not have the money, or at least I think they don’t, to employ contractors. The party, therefore, needs to woo people who are ideologically sympathetic, for example former Alliance operators like Chris Ford.

·         Mana will stand candidates in general electorates where those candidates have a realistic chance of attracting votes and building the party’s profile. All candidates will stand at their own expense. 

·         Angeline Greensill may have another go in Hauraki-Waikato and Annette Sykes is sure to stand in Waiariki.  


  1. Pretty trite analysis, Morgan.

    How is a new party helped by peremptorily disqualifying from key leadership positions anyone with the slightest political (and, more importantly, electoral and parliamentary) experience?

    Methinks there's just a little bit of right-wing prejudice beginning to show in your commentaries. (You being an up-and-coming young Maori lawyer and all ;-)

    Oh, and BTW, Jane Kelsey is a contemporary of Minto, Jackson, et al. So, if they're "hacks" - then so is she.

  2. Early days yet. The ‘yesterdays’ during and in the wake of the 81 tour, were instrumental in putting racism in NZ and Te Tiriti on the whole nation’s agenda. Backroom or frontline they are an asset not a liability for Mana. Sue was the only visible parliamentary advocate for beneficiaries for almost 10 years too. A thankless role with kiwis loving to bash the ‘dirty filthy bennies’.

    But having said that, tactically one seat Sue Bradford should probably not stand in is Waitakere. It is too important to dump Bennett, albeit symbolically as she would certainly be back on the list.

    The key thing for Mana is to hold TTT and gain whatever other electorate and party votes are possible. Then the structure can relax a bit and determine in practice whether a genuine movement of the people can be built rather than just a small parliamentary party. There are branches/sectors galore already in just a few months. The hard left are keeping their cool so far and people are pretty respectful of each other. It is no doubt difficult (but not overly so if you have known him for 30 years) for Hone to switch to a more class based approach.

    As a Te Hiku branch member I look forward most of all for the Rangatahi to rise, that would be the early achievement of Te Mana to encourage a new generation of activists among todays disengaged and disempowered.

  3. It's all moot anyway. With the media attention in TTT,and a strong Maori Party presence, Davis will win. There is no other seat that Mana can win, with Labour picking most of them up.

  4. Hi TM, I agree, for the most part. I am in two minds as to whether Bradford should stand in Waitakere. Waitakere is one the marginals and certainly one of the most important seats for the left. If I remember correctly Bradford has said she would run a party vote campaign if she decided to stand. It will be important for Mana to stand as many candidates as possible to generate publicity and increase exposure. As much as I disagree with importing former politicians back into Parliament, people like Willie Jackson have an important role to play in generating headlines for Mana.

  5. You may not realise this Morgan, but political parties tend to be led by experienced politicians.
    Bradford,Sykes,Jackson, Harawira, McCarten, Minto, Kelsey and Greensill are all longtime activists who have been involved in a range of political struggles over many years. They are roughly of the same generation.
    It was one of these 'recycled' politicians (Hone) who started Mana, and the rest have got in behind him,in the same way they have all got behind each other in various struggles over the years.
    Of course they have been in a range of roles over the years - thats what activists do - sometimes they may be in parliament,sometimes they may be on the street.
    Hopefully Mana will be a vehicle where young people can come through and get the practical experience to lead in the future but movements start because activists step forward and make them happen. Just because those activists have been around for a while doesn't mean it is no longer valid for them to take part in politic,nor does the fact they have been in parliament previously mean they shouldn't go in again. After all they are not stopping other younger people from taking initiatives if they want to.
    You seem unable to differentiate between activst politicians who challenge capitalism and inequality and the time servers of the mainstream parties who are there to prop up the system and recycle themselves endlessly to no useful purpose.
    It is a bit rude of you to write off people who have dedicated their lives to the stuggles of the poor and the vulnerable unless you are prepared to put yourself on the line in the way they have for many years.

    Bennett will return to parliament regardless of whether she wins Waitakere,and there is no good reason a left candidate would stand aside for someone from the neo liberal Labour Party.

  6. Its important Morgan that you put all Maori politicians & all political parties under scrutiny, that includes Mana. Your point about the age of activists involved in Mana is a good one . the vast overwhelming majority of Maori are 35 years and under. They are unrepresented again. Activists taking part in the parliamentary system become part of that system and end up propping up the very thing they vowed to change. Its hard not to be cynical I remember how everyone thought the Maori party was going to save us and look what happened to them .

  7. Morgan, Trotter's articles are overrated. And his views on the Maaori World are trite. I remember reading one article he thought the Kohanga children that wrote letters of protest against Michael Laws's bigotry were ill-advised, just like many middle-class Kiwi's unfortunately. Don't worry, a few white middle-class New Zealanders thought those kids were pretty damn cool, and think this article is anything but trite. Excellent analysis, mate.



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