Sep 5, 2011

MWWL, David Rankin and Billboards

I’ve missed a bit of news over the past few days so I’ll briefly comment on a few issues in this post:


Hannah Tamaki has failed in her bid for the presidency of the Maori Women’s Welfare League. From Radio New Zealand

The new national president of the Maori Women's Welfare League (Kataraina O’Brien) says the co-founder of Destiny Church, Hannah Tamaki, who was also vying for the role, did not go about things in the right way.

This, I think, is true. Hannah Tamaki took an unorthodox approach to her campaign. Previous campaigns for the presidency have been, for want of a better term, discrete. However, Tamaki took a glamorous approach to her campaign producing professional campaign material and travelling the country attending league functions and so on. In my opinion this gave her an unfair advantage over the less well-known and less wealthy candidates. Hannah Tamaki also appeared in the media, on numerous occasions, and passed comment on her bid and the League’s attempts to stymie her. The precedent is for members to keep contentious issues within the league and refrain from commenting to the media. Tamaki, quite clearly, departed from this precedent.

I think this is the best outcome for the League. Hannah Tamaki’s bid has reenergised the otherwise declining movement. It would not have been in anyone’s interest for Tamaki to win – I know if she had of won over the weekend a vote of no confidence would have been moved immediately. This would have divided the league even further.


David Rankin has opened his mouth again, this time labelling Margaret Mutu a racist after Mutu called for a restriction on white immigration. From

Mutu's controversial comments came in response to a Department of Labour report which found Maori are more likely to express anti-immigration sentiment than Pakeha or any other ethnic group. 

The head of the university's department of Maori studies, Mutu agreed with the findings and called on the Government to restrict the number of white migrants arriving from countries such as South Africa, England and the United States as they brought attitudes destructive to Maori. 

Firstly, I agree that some white immigrants bring racist attitudes, however restricting “white immigration” is probably, and I do not want to devolve into semantics, racist. Certainly Joris De Bres, the Race Relations Commissioner, seems to agree. In a free society people are entitled to their own views - even if those views are repugnant. There is no infallible mechanism to prevent racist migrants from coming to Aotearoa and I suspect Professor Mutu knows this. In my opinion, this is not a debate worth having. The racists from both sides, Maori and Pakeha, will ensure any debate turns toxic while the clowns like David Rankin will add legitimacy to anti-Maori sentiment.


I covered a fair chunk of the country over the past week and made a few election-related observations. Firstly, Labour MP Sue Moroney’s billboards dominate Hamilton West. I didn’t see anything from the incumbent Tim Macindoe. Sue probably stands little chance of winning the seat given the way the party vote went in the previous election and Labour’s current performance in the polls. Hamilton West, and Hamilton East too, are considered bellwether seats. Nearly every party since 1972 that has won both seats has gone on to form the government. In my opinion Hamilton is a very rural city. Hamilton services the Waikato hinterland (i.e. the farms which make up most of the Waikato) and this pro-National hinterland probably influences the political leanings of Hamilton residents. Having said that, Hamilton West, in contrast to Hamilton East, is quite working class and the seat has been held by Labour on more than a few occasions. So maybe I am too slow to write off Sue.

I was also in the Hawkes Bay and couldn’t drive more than a kilometre without coming across a National Party billboard. Either National is recycling the “building brighter futures” line or some enthusiastic supporters are erecting signs from the last election. The Maori Party candidate, Na Rongowhakata Raihania, also had a few billboards which were, to be honest, visual chaos. Too many colours, the contrast was too sharp and his name is too long. Good to see he has got a head start over the competition though. Labour’s signs were also prominent in the Manawatu, especially in the small towns surrounding Palmerston North. Palmerston North is the only rural seat Labour holds and you would expect them to put in a big effort to retain it.    


  1. Your comments on Dr Mutu make sense - the problem is that she has disturbed a particularly foetid pool.

  2. "His name is too long"? What do you want him to do, change it to Bob or something?

  3. I think there are two issues to consider besides the potential for whites to bring racist attitudes with them, or at least notions of indigenous peoples 'knowing their place'.

    One, the issue of selective immigration. NZ is no stranger to this. Two, why shouldn't Maori have a say in immigration? Not having a say in unregulated British immigration in the 19th century is the reason we became a minority in the first place.



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