Dec 2, 2011

Flavell to roll Sharples

The Maori Party are neither left nor right. Or so they say. The Maori Party, apparently, do things the Maori way. In light of this, what do we make of these claims?

There could be a new face at the top of the Maori Party as early as next week.

ONE News has been told Te Ururoa Flavell is poised to take over from Pita Sharples as co-leader.

Flavell and Maori Party president Pem Bird flew into Wellington together today from Rotorua.

Bird said the plan to make the Wairakei MP co-leader "is an open secret".

"The issue is around when and how so," Bird said, but it is believed the idea is to have a new leader in place around the same time a deal is struck with National.

"That would be the goal," Bird said.

This is a leadership coup, no two ways about. But is a leadership coup the Maori way of doing things? Surely, after decades of service to Maori and more recently the Maori Party, Pita deserves to stand aside on his own terms? I don’t think Pita should have his mana trampled over in a brutal leadership coup. All power to Te Ururoa if he wants to stamp his mana, but some thought should be given to Pita’s dignity. The party owe him as much.

There’s no question that Te Ururoa should assume a leadership position in time. Both Tariana and Pita have indicated their intention to call it quits in 2014 and Te Ururoa is the only remaining MP. He is, according to many, the Maori Party’s most capable MP as well. With a number of bills in the ballot box and one bill, the Gambling Harm Reduction bill, due to come before the House this term Te Ururoa was, legislatively speaking, the most active Maori Party MP (leaving aside the two Ministers Pita and Tariana).

But is it wise to throw Te Ururoa in the mix now? I doubt it. In my opinion, it’s safer to have Te Ururoa take Tariana’s position when she steps down before the next election. A bloody coup will exacerbate the swing against the Maori Party in Tamaki Makaurau, opening the seat for all parties in 2014, and contribute to the perception that the Maori Party is a sinking ship. The Maori Party need unity, or at least a semblance of unity, too. Voters punish political parties for a lack of unity. Look no further than the Australian Labor Party, or even our own Labour Party.

I don’t know what is driving Te Ururoa and his supporters. With age Pita is losing much of his intellectual ability, that much is clear, but is he a liability? Of all of the Maori Party MPs Pita was and is the most effective MP when it comes to reaching across the racial and political divide. I doubt Te Ururoa, and also Tariana for that matter, possess the same skills.

This reminds me of the Hone Harawira expulsion drama. Te Ururoa and Pem Bird were leading the charge to eliminate Hone. They wanted Hone gone. There was no other option for them. The same is true here. Pita must go with no option two. With such an aggressive and uncompromising approach to politics one wonders whether Te Ururoa and Pem suit the Maori Party. The Maori Party is about careful compromise, but Te Ururoa and Pem don’t seem to know how to compromise. I wish them luck when they hopelessly deploy their bully boy tactics against National.


  1. I'm hoping that the Maori party will start to see sense one of these days... but with Te Ururoa looking like he's taking over, I really can't see that happening anytime soon.

  2. The Maori Party is finished. They have no strategy - just hit and miss low-level tactics

  3. I don't believe in this left right crap. But just for argument's sake - even on a Pakeha political spectrum, the Maori Party are right of centre.

    However, on the Maori political spectrum, the Maori Party would be extreme right

  4. Pete has had his time. It appears he doesn't find the confrontational stuff useful. He's used to helping get consensus. In general, the party are too used to seeing Maori society through blinkered eyes. Although to be fair, National sees bankers and farmers, Labour sees working class union members, the Maori party sees Maori language speaking cultural guardians and Iwi. Te Ururoa is hard working and staunch. But I don't see any ordinary Joes in their line up.

  5. In keeping with my pro-Maori Party bias, I reiterate the point that they're the most successful vehicle for legislating favourable Maori policy.

    Sure, we're yet to see a sweeping abundance of Maori health providers and educators through something like Whanau Ora, but without the Maori Party we wouldn't have got nearly as far as we have - within one term, with a National government.

    I find it disappointing so many advocate the dissolution of the Maori party rather than the reinvention.Furthermore, for those party faithful who are ideologically opposed to National, and find parternship between the two grotesque - please come to grips with MMP and realise that it's better to be in government with the enemy and implementing small but effective change, than to be in opposition and ignored.

    With regard to Te Ururoa;

    It makes sense that he take over as co-leader, he is an outstanding MP. Is the timing right? I remain unsure, but if he is to take up leadership within this term it makes sense to do it prior to a coalition deal, thus making him able to establish a solid campaign base for 2014.

    Also - not sure if he could fill the void left by Tariana, as iirc the constitution of the party requires male & female co-leaders.



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