Aug 31, 2012

Best and Worst Maori MPs for August

As usual, here are the best and worst performing Maori politicans for August.

The Best

Louisa Wall

12 months ago few people could name the MP for Manurewa. Today, it’s hard not to know the MP for Manurewa. Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill has guaranteed her a Cabinet position in the next Labour government – I’ll put money on that call.

Louisa has demonstrated how you should sell a bill. It helps that she is on the right side of history, but that aside she crafted the superior argument and narrative. Google News returns over 2000 results for Louisa Wall which, to me and I know it’s unscientific, demonstrates that she has actively sold the bill. It’s easy to allow an issue like this to take on a life of its own, but Louisa has kept control of the issue.

The true test, assuming the marriage equality bill passes, will be maintaining momentum. I’ve no doubt Louisa has the ability to front issues, but the sport and recreation and community and voluntary sector portfolios are not conducive to media coverage or ground breaking policy. A portfolio reshuffle is due and Labour could do worse than award Louisa with a weighty portfolio.

Nanaia Mahuta

Nanaia is often written off, but I can assure you she’s no lightweight. It’s difficult to court media attention, even with the most controversial issues. Take, as one example, the class sizes debacle. Nanaia took an active role in sticking it to the government, but with issues that lead the news the party leader will take, well, the lead. Therefore, David Shearer fronted the big media while Nanaia was assigned the back seat. Scanning Scoop and Voxy reveals Nanaia produces more press releases than her Maori caucus colleagues; surely she deserves credit for productivity even if that does not translate to exposure. Anyway, since when was media coverage the only gauge of performance.

Tariana Turia

Like Nanaia, Tariana produces more press releases than her colleagues. She is also the most capable. Over the past month Tariana has sold the plain packaging idea well. After Whanau Ora, reducing the harm smoking causes will be Tariana’s legacy.

Hone Harawira

Last term Hone was the most consistent performer. However, this year he is hot and cold. He had a terrible month when he refused to budge on marriage equality, on the other hand he had a blazing month when the government planned to scrap s9 in the MOM Act. In August, however, Hone has found his form. He voted Aye for the marriage equality bill and has taken it to the government over child poverty, asset sales, Maori water rights, Afghanistan, drug testing beneficiaries and the proposed bill to ban gang patches. No other opposition MP covers more issues. For a one man band supported by a comparatively small office Hone does exceedingly well. Compare, for example, Hone’s coverage with David Shearer, a man supported by a research unit, several press secretaries and communications staff and MPs who he can delegate to.

Moana Mackey

A quiet achiever this year. Last term Moana did, to be honest, nothing of note. However, this year has been marked by good work, albeit work that has gone relatively unnoticed. Moana’s work on the Exclusive Economic Zone bill has been excellent. She has carried Labour on this issue and made a number of excellent speeches in the House. Moana has also ensured climate change remains a live issue in the party and in the House and, as local example, she has fought for the reopening/repair of the Gisborne rail link.

The Worst

Brendan Horan

I couple of months ago Brendan participated in a political debate on Native Affairs. He was horrendous. I thought he should be cut a bit of slack, he’s a new MP after all, but over the last two months he has not improved – not one iota. He can give a soundbite now, and a good one at that, but in longform he is very bad. Strays off point and usually has little grasp of the topic.

Hekia Parata

Hekia Parata is no fool, nor is she stupid. But she speaks in empty platitudes and everyone sees through them. The class sizes debacle revealed her tendency to speak in slogans, this tendency was widely criticised, but she has still made no effort to speak in substance. Hekia does, however, receive marks for keeping controversy to a minimum, even with charter schools and national standards coming under attack from teacher unions and the opposition. 

The Green’s Maori Caucus

Unusually quiet this month, nearly non-existent.

Parekura Horomia

I like Parekura and having worked for him I can assure you he is an outstanding electorate MP. Hence he has the largest majority of any Maori electorate MP. However, his activity level in the Maori Affairs portfolio leaves much to be desired.

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