Nov 11, 2011

Uncertain future for the Maori Party

Duncan Garner speculates on what could have been:

With Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples retiring at the 2014 election, the leadership of the Maori Party could have easily gone to Harawira, if he sat tight, stayed in the tent, managed his activism and been a bit more patient. That he hasn't is tragic.

I don’t know about this. I always thought Te Ururoa was the natural pick post Turia and Sharples. Te Ururoa didn’t, or hasn’t, exactly achieved more or less than Hone in Parliament – the thing is he was always the more palatable face. A man of compromise and, by all accounts, respected across the entire political spectrum. Hone was, while is actually, hated outside of the left. I think many Parliamentarians hold a grudging respect for him, but would rather not turn off their voters and work publicly with Hone. So, it was always in the Maori Party’s best interests to elevate Te Ururoa over Hone. Both men had their camps – i.e. Hone had the activist faction while Te Ururoa would have won the conservative element in the Maori Party – but ultimately the conservatives (which would include many of the kaumatua of the party) would have had their way.

Ideally it should be a vehicle that holds all the Maori seats and is the balance of power at each election. The Maori Party, in their ideal political world, should be in the position where it chooses who governs every three years. It has clearly failed to get to that point.

So, so true. Makes me yearn for what could have been. Hone shouldn’t field all of the blame though. Hone took the principled road – he listened to Maori and he rebelled against the insufficient MCA Act. He didn’t put up with policies that discriminated against the poor. In my opinion he did the right thing. The Maori Party lost their way. The ends certainly did not justify what the Maori Party swallowed. The ETS dumped costs on already struggling Maori households, the ACC changes disadvantaged many Maori, the 90 fire at will law decreased Maori job security, the MCA Act went against Maori aspirations and the tax swindle put pressure on Maori budgets… and for what… a flag over the harbour bridge, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, a constitutional review, rearranged and renamed funding. About the only thing I can think of that will benefit Maori in a real way is Whanau Ora (which has been massively underfunded). That is not to say the Maori Party’s achievements are for nought. Maori are, in my opinion, better off for what the Maori Party has done and I think we’ll look back and say, ae, they did achieve something. But on balance, the Maori Party has probably applied more pressure on Maori than they have eased.

There appears to be no succession plan to replace Turia and Sharples. If there is, it's not yet evident. But it could and should have been Hone, if he was willing to pull on his big boy pants and be a true leader - rather than a sniper on the sidelines.

Yeah, not sure if there is either. The obvious successors are Flavell and Katene, but that’s assuming they survive. Other than them maybe Waihoroi Shortland and Kaapua Smith? One of the fundamental differences between Mana and the Maori Party is that Mana have a succession plan (or are formulating one). At the moment, Mana looks to be the more sustainable movement for Maori. 

Maori need a strong independent voice, not a bunch of weakened one or two man bands that hold little or no sway.

The Maori Party and Mana will be back. But for what? With whom? And just what can they achieve?

The logical position for Mana and the Maori Party is to form a bloc. A bloc where the Mana Movement focuses on the Party vote and the Maori Party focuses on the electorate vote. Hone originally wanted this but the Maori Party, in their most dumb and self interested move yet, threw it back in his face. Dumb. Just dumb.

Beyond Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples I see no future for the Maori Party. It would take some dramatic wins and some dramatic fuck ups from Hone for the Maori Party to regain relevance. The tide is going out on the Maori Party and rising on the Mana Movement. A shame really. It comes down to this: there is no one Maori voice, we speak in different voices, different languages even. Whakapapa will bind us, but we are not of one mind.


  1. Yes, I feel Duncan Garner has analysed the situation well, but I am not too sure if everyone would agree that Hone would have been the best leader of the Maori Party. In my own personal opinion, Hone and Te Ururoa would have been good co-leaders to keep each other in balance - where succession would have flocked in terms of rangatahi rallying to two equally strong generals - however.

    Morgan, the tide seems to be in a phenomenal position of neither rising or falling for the Māori Party - the moon seems to be stationary and is waiting for both the Maori and the Mana Parties to get it right and unite the people as opposed to the division that both parties are responsible for from differing degrees of perspective. I definately do not agree that the Mana Party is on the incoming tide and unless leaders from both parties can do the right thing and agree to disagree, but make intelligent decisions for the best of an even wider than before spectrum of Maori opinion, then both parties seem doomed along with all Maori – well maybe not doomed, but left to movements from labour which have glacial progress compared to the Māori Party’s so called “breadcrumb” contribution within their short term.

    Mark Ngahoia Scott

  2. Mark, you forget Hone tried to make amends but the Maori Party would have none of it; if doom awaits both of them then so be it. However, one party is more doomed than the other.

  3. To use the word-of-the-week, Duncan Garner is a 'scumbag' who knows sweet far call. He could learn a lot from you, Morgan.

  4. Maori have diverse opinion and politics just like any other peoples. The Maori party are on the way out because of their continual selling out to a white conservative government. This has caused much pain to the majority of Maori in the flax roots. Colonisers rely on the co-option and the creation & shoring up of a Maori elite to be the brown face for the dirty work they want done on our lands and to our people. These sellouts have had their day good riddance to them.

  5. "The Maori party are on the way out because of their continual selling out to a white colonial government."

    Fixed that for you

  6. @anon: I didn't forget that Hone tryed to make amends. I also remember him showing humility in the face of his own short-comings. Yes the Maori Party did not want to tautoko my whanaunga following the relationship break-down: surprise surprise!! However, Hone has still not ruled it out and neither has Pita.
    "If doom awaits both of them so be it"??? Damn hope not.

    Duncan Garner a "scumbag!" Not one to throw names around myself, but I personally have never liked the way he covers Maori stories, so fair enough lol!

    @Ana: He tini me te mano o matou e noho tonu ana i te "flax roots" e kaha tonu ana ki te tautoko i te Paati Maori! Hei ta to korero, kei te hemanawa te nuinga?! Ha? "Sell-outs?!" Meinga meinga! Engari, tika ana tahau na, he rereke me te whanui te whakaaro o te iwi Maori - engari, papouri tonu nei te panui me te whakarongo ki nga korero e hohonu nei te kawa me te whiu korero hamuti ki a tatou ano.

    Mark Ngahoia Scott



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