Jun 11, 2012

Turia and Sharples reconsider retirement

Audrey Young reports:

Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples have revealed they are reconsidering retiring from politics next election - just as a new poll shows them potentially holding the balance of power.

Mrs Turia and Dr Sharples had indicated that the 2011 election would be their last.

But they are reconsidering after being asked repeatedly by supporters, a party official said.

This is the party’s only option. Te Ururoa Flavell’s majority in Waiariki is soft and will weaken in the face of a strong candidate and campaign. If Tauranga or Tuwharetoa fall towards Annette Sykes, or the Labour candidate evenly splits the area, then a win in Rotorua will not be enough to carry Flavell.

The same is roughly true of Pita Sharples. John Tamihere is considering a run at the 2014 election and Mana will stand a strong candidate, potentially Nga Puhi man Clinton Dearlove. Sharples came within a whisker of defeat in 2011 and that, quite worryingly for the Maori Party, was against a Shane Jones whose mind was on his personal life and a Mana candidate who entered late. Hypothetically Sharples will be up against the strongest candidate Labour can field, read Tamihere, and one of the strongest Mana can field, read Dearlove.

Tamihere, along with his likely campaign manager Willie Jackson, are probably the best Maori campaigners in Auckland. Labour also has access to the likes of Shane Phillips and Kelvin Davis. The Maori Party, on the other hand, don’t appear to have access to like campaigners.

Having said that, Pita Sharples unseated in Tamihere in 2005. However, the Sharples of today is nothing on the Sharples of seven years ago. Sharples is tired and not cutting it well, I think at least, as a Minister at the moment. He is slow and does not appear as intellectually capable as he once was. In contrast, Tamihere has, minus one or two minor controversies, rebuilt his reputation and continues his good work with the Waipereira Trust.

As for Tariana Turia, she’ll win no matter who runs against her. Turia knows, perhaps better than her colleagues, that without her and Sharples – the party’s anchors – the Maori Party will fall. The tide is going out on the Maori Party and rising on the Mana Party. For that reason, she knows that she needs to stay. Such a move, however, only seems to prolong the inevitable. Without an ideological shift and tangible wins for Maori, the Maori Party is paddling against the current.


  1. Don't forget that at the next election, there will probably be 8 Maori seats.

    1. True. How do you think the split will occur? Assuming it does?

    2. That's why I mentioned it to you!

      I figure you're much more likely than me to know of the areas of growth in Maori, and Maori-enrolled population. I know very little about tribal boundaries and the like, but it would be a North Island seat.

      p.s. I think the assumption that there will be an increase is sensible:

      1. the number of Maori seats has gone up each time (there wasn't an actual increase last time, but the number still went up: from 6.84 seats (rounded up to 7) to 7.25 seats (rounded down to 7).

      2. It is 7 years since the last option, giving an extra two years of demographic change to help out. Even a small increase should be enough to reach 7.5 seats, which would be rounded up to 8 seats.

      3. The Canterbury Earthquake will mean that the rate of growth in the North Island population will increase over the South Island growth rate even more than we might have expected it (which is important, because the population of the South Island is used to determine the number of other seats - if it drops, or doesn't increase as rapidly - the number of Maori and North Island seats increases).

      Nine seats, however, seems a very long way away. Unless the earthquake-related demographic change has been really large, this seems unlikely.

    3. I have no idea how the split will occur. Speaking to a Maori figure in Labour, he seemed to think Te Tai Tonga will be split. I don't think this correct though.

      Wellington could become a single electorate. As it is Wellington proper is part of Te Tai Tonga, most of the Hutt and Wainuiomata are part of Ikaroa-Rawhiti and the Porirua area is part of Te Tai Hauauru. It would make sense to create an urban electorate, along the lines of Tamaki Makaurau for example.

      The boundaries of Te Tai Tokerau could be moved north, i.e. to exclude West Auckland and the North Shore, therefore bringing those areas into the Tamaki Makaurau electorate. The Hauraki-Waikato electorate could then be extended to include South Auckland where Waikato-Tainui hold mana whenua.

      All hypothetical of course. Before making any concrete predictions I'd have to see the numbers.

  2. Pinning all hopes on Labour (Or more desirably the Greens - but still am not convinced that either is, as yet, a government-in-waiting) winning the next election, then I would hope to see strong maori candidates offered by them with good policy goals and significant influence in cabinet to get things done. If the Maori Party are not to hold a balance of power or a majority of the maori seats, then I'd rather seen Greens or Labour in them, and strong maori factions within their respective caucus [and hopefully cabinet].

    I'd rather not see Mana in government nor Winston - so let's hope that Labour can get its shit together or Greens to steam past them to become the serious opposition party and for there to be a bi-partisan coalition.

    Labour will need to offer Maori something bigger than Whanau Ora. Our educational achievement is pretty low, maybe some education reform for Maori - something complimentary to the health program.

  3. If you had of asked me at the start of this government if Tariana was going to win her seat for the next election, I would have said yes. But now, I'm not even so sure she could hold it together against a strong candidate. The move of not to retire now (and how many times is that?) smacks of desperation and it looks like there is no new blood coming through. Te Ururoa is going to go against Annette and with more time and resources, Annette looks poised to take him out. That leaves Pita. Agreed - he looks more tired and out of his league this year than in 2005. And if Tamihere had a crack, he might take him out. However, I'd be interested to see who Mana selects. I would not have though Dearlove, instead a stronger, more seasoned campaigner might do the trick. Either way Morgan, I have to be honest and say I struggle seeing the Maori Party returning after the next election - Tariana and Pita are old, tired and now desperate and Te Ururoa looks gone for all money. Besides, anybody who believes that they will jump into bed with Labour and not National is dreaming.

    1. I'm interested to know who else you think could/would stand for Mana in Tamaki Makaurau? Off the top of my head there's Kereama Pene. Willie Jackson could stand, but he won't stand against John Tamihere.

  4. yes it will be very interesting to see.I hope more Ngati Whatua jump up. Mite have to make a few visits I think.....

  5. Morgan

    My whanau up North reckon that a group of kaumatua and kuia summoned "the hurricane" to a hui in Northland. They have asked Clinton to stand in the Te Tai Tokerau in 2014. My cousin reckons that some of his Labour whanau have asked him to consider standing since no one has heard from Kelvin since the election.

    1. He has been working with the Maori leadership academy with young maori, my cousin has a boy at the academy.
      One of my aunties reckons he is now helping a Maori trust develop education and health programmes for Maori and other programmes including social housing.

      They are wanting him to stand in Te Tai Tokerau, from what I understand.

  6. Why would Tuwharetoa and Tauranga go to Annette? She's done nothing for either groups, and wouldn't have the Parliamentary influence that those groups would seek. Te Ururoa is 'safe' pair of hands ( better the devil you know)

  7. Is this piece supposed to be subjective?

  8. Am I correct when I say that a few posts ago you predicted that the Maori Party would struggle at the next election? I can't find the post but I remember thinking at the time that the suggestion was a reasonable possibility. Last year about six months before the last election I heard rumours that there may have been dissatisfication among some in the Tamaki branch of the Maori Party and forces were moving to remove Pita Sharples. This perhaps proved to be incorrect because obviously Pita stood in the election (and won it). However that there were these rumours suggests that all is not well up those ways and if another party launches a serious contender then Pita's foundations could be shakey, maybe.
    And with news of the situation that Atareta Poananga faces it seems that young up-and-comers are short on the ground in the Maori Party.
    Add to that the threat, which you have already mentioned, to Te Ururoa that is likely to come from Annette Sykes as well as Rahui Katene's situation and things are looking pretty dicey.
    That really only leaves Tariana to keep the party afloat and though she is obviously a kuia she has proven herself to be a busy politician.
    However this situation poses a very serious question about the future prospects of the party and why they haven't been grooming the next generation of leaders. I can't help but think what could have been. In the days after 2004 hikoi when the Maori Party was at its peak, it had leaders, under the guidance of the ever-gracious Whatarangi Winiata, who I thought knew what they were doing. But after the last few years that belief has been stripped away.

    1. Yeah, that's right. I've been saying it for the past year really.

      I was far too young to know what was going on in 2004, but by all accounts they were heady days and the Maori Party was brimming with potential. Sadly, they seem to have got lost on the way. The party made poor choices and failed to keep an eye on the future. You're right, they didn't know what they were doing. They didn't have anyone who really knew how to run and grow a political party.

    2. Karla, you heard correctly. I used to be involved with the Auck branch, but we never saw Pita. Everything was directed to one of his advisors, and nobody liked him. Things came to a head and I believe he met with his inner circle - apparently that inner circle is diminishing. I think people were hoping some young blood might come through and with their latest decision not to retire, this has made rangatahi switch off. I have also heard that Tariana's popularity is fading and she no longer enjoys the grip she once had on the electorate - mainly due to supporting this national govern and for not retiring, again. As a former Maori Party woman, I'm struggling to see them return at the next election. For me, it boils down to supporting a crap govern

  9. if a new seat is added, and its a big if, the tonga and tokerau seats will have to reduce in size i.e. maybe take out west auckland and the hutt. all other seats will have to move accordingly, to ensure they all have the same population base. Hauraki Waikato would get West Auck, Ikaroa would get the Hutt. The new seat would be in the upper north island, or maybe central. this is where the major rejigs would happen



1. Anonymous comments will be rejected. Please use your real name or a pseudonym/moniker/etc...
2. No personal abuse. Defamatory comments will be rejected.
3. I'll reject any comment that isn't in good taste.