Nov 3, 2011

Native Affairs Kowhiri 11: Te Tai Hauauru Review

Disappointing. That’s about the only way to describe lastnight’s Te Tai Hauauru debate. If it wasn’t for Jack McDonald and Tariana Turia I would have switched off. If last night should be noted for anything it’s that Jack McDonald is, without a shred of a doubt, a rising star. He knew Green policy well, he made reference to Maori values and he spoke with a certain amount of depth and good knowledge of Green talking points. He represented the Greens brilliantly and did himself and his whanau proud.

Tariana Turia was, naturally, very strong. Her responses were, across the board, the strongest. She will retain her seat with ease after last night. Although I disagree with what Tariana has done over the past term, I have mad respect for what she has done for Maori, most notably her role in the foreshore and seabed battle where Tariana played an integral part in ushering in a new era of Maori political consciousness. I also respect her lead role in forcing the government to introduce Whanau Ora. Tariana has, despite some low points over the past three years, been a champion for her people.

Soraya Peke-Mason had her high points, but she wasn’t up to the same standard as Tariana. This is, to be fair, expected. Soraya is a first timer and was under some pressure to perform. The lights, the cameras and crowd will often get to people who are not extroverted and experienced. I don’t think she will threaten Tariana. I should also point out that she knew, at the beginning anyway, her talking points well.

Fredrick Timutimu, well, he was no Hurricane Dearlove, but he did okay in the circumstances I guess. He needs more polish. I don’t think he is political material – or not yet anyway. Very Solomon Tipene like.

I enjoyed the question on how each party would act on job creation. Tariana was the strongest, I expected much better from Soraya (she should have prepared an answer to this question in advance – it was so obvious!), Jack McDonald spoke well on the Green’s job creation policy mentioning insulating homes, cleaning up the environment and steering a new direction in the economy.

The question on Iwi allegiances was also good. Jack McDonald pointed out he was moving around the entire electorate, Tariana pointed out her job in Parliament comes with an obligation to all Maori (and she’s right and I don’t doubt she acts under anything but an obligation to all Maori), Timutimu said Mana was for the people by the people and that whakapapa binds all Maori, Soraya highlighted her links across the entire electorate including in the Waikato.

On points, it’s Tariana all day, but the real star last night was Jack McDonald. Kudos must go to Julian Wilcox as well – one of the best interviewers in New Zealand.

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