Sep 9, 2011

Willie Jackson for Tamaki Makarau

I admire Tim Selwyn’s analysis of Maori politics, but I feel he misses the mark today:

Willy Jackson has been a stronger advocate for a compromise between Maori and Mana parties than he has been an advocate and activist for the Mana Movement.

This is true. However, one has to understand that any overt activism on Willie’s part will compromise his chances of securing subsequent seasons of his show political show, Newsbites, as well as his daily program on Radio Live. Secondly, but more importantly, any political activism Willie undertakes will hurt the chances of the Manukau Urban Maori Authority, of which he is the CEO, from securing social services contracts. Seriously - don’t underestimate the vindictiveness of the Tory’s and their Maori Party mates. Thirdly, you can not begrudge Willie for advocating for the sensible option. In terms of increasing Maori political power, the best approach was a joint effort in the Maori seats. Mana would target the party vote while the Maori Party would target the electorate vote. It made more sense for Willie, who is in a position of authority and influence, to push for that option before committing exclusively to Mana.   

His vacillation over standing against Pita Sharples and Shane Jones in the Tamaki Makaurau Electorate will not serve him well I would have thought. Partly it may have been out of political courtesy to give these impressions, but it is difficult to tell if Willy has the fire in the belly to win Tamaki Makaurau.

I largely agree with this statement. It is very late in the piece and that isn’t helpful. Conventional wisdom would, perhaps, dictate that in order to win an electorate a year long effort is required. Then again, Willie isn’t any old candidate.

I don't know Stephanie Harawira (who has put her name forward for the nomination) so I don't know what her chances of selection are if a big name like Willy should stand.

My understanding is that the other interested candidates have agreed to step aside should Willie decide to stand. However, were Harawira to remain in the race I doubt she will win the nomination.

My feeling is that Willy is just not going to be a hard enough candidate against Pita or Shane to take the seat because he has too much personal respect for both men and this will dull the edge. Even with a huge swing from Maori Party to Mana it is a big ask. It will be interesting what the radical elements in the proliferation of Mana branches in Auckland have to say.

Willie’s views are far-left, the thing is that he is an expert when it comes to massaging the message and presenting a mainstream face. He can do radical when the situation demands. What we see of Willie in public nowadays is, for want of a better term, mainstream and acceptable to many New Zealanders. This is because the situation demands a non-threatening face. Can you imagine Radio Live hiring a Maori radical? Or TVNZ agreeing to run Eye to Eye? Willie can do radical and he will if he runs.

If Willie decides to stand his campaign manager will be John Tamihere. At the last election Pita largely relied on Willie, John and their networks. This was the case in 2005 as well. Now that both men and their networks have moved on I struggle to see how Pita will manage to run a worthy campaign. He has next to no experienced people behind him and he is, in my opinion, a politician lacking nous and any sort of pulling power. He may charm the kuia at Hoani Waititi, but he doesn’t do so well with rangatahi and male voters.

Shane’s team will not pose a challenge for Willie’s experienced and soldier-heavy team. Willie is an institution among Auckland Maori. He is, as Hone Harawira once told me, the quintessential urban Maori. Willie is also, and I am only speculating here, held in higher esteem among the union movement.

Before a Mana candidate can stand they must commission a poll and that poll must show that they have a realistic chance. If Willie decides to stand that means his private polling shows he is in with a real chance. The only public poll we can rely on, and only slightly, is the Horizon Poll from earlier this year. The poll showed a massive swing from Pita Sharples to Shane Jones. I commented at the time that it was a reflex backlash against the Maori Party’s support for the Nat’s, but more particularly the MCA Act. The voters swung behind Shane because he was the default option, not because Tamaki Makaurau had all of a sudden come back to Labour (in fact Auckland is, at the moment at least, a National stronghold). Were Willie a factor at the time I would pick that the swing would naturally move to him. Willie shares more in common, both policy wise and personality wise, with Pita. Shane is somewhat converse to both Pita and Willie.

Should Willie stand Tamaki Makaurau will be one of the most interesting contests. I am not going to call it for anyone at the moment because it is too close, for now at least. Once things become clearer I will produce a comprehensive analysis and call the result – maybe even endorse a candidate.


  1. Willie Jackson's Waatea News is no longer supplying content to Radio New Zealand - RNZ decided, as of 1 July 2011, to produce Maori news in-house. The replacement segment on Morning Report and Checkpoint is Te Manu Kohiri.

  2. I had heard that there was some opposition within Mana, particularly from women, to Willie or JT having prominent roles, partly because of their backing for Clint Rickards. No idea if this is true or not, but figured there might be someone here who could shed light on that?

  3. Hi Julie,

    That's the first I have heard. I don't know too much about the Mana branches in Auckland. However, I do think, given the prominent role women are beginning to take in Mana, that there may be some disquiet around that issue. Personally, I am more concerned with Willie's support for Destiny Church and the patriarchal bullshit they preach.



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