Apr 2, 2013

The Maori seats: surveying the field

Via RNZ:

A kuia affiliated to Ngai Tuhoe suggests a member of the tribe should stand for Parliament.

Harata Williams - who lives in Auckland - raised the idea in passing while discussing the electoral roll options for Maori.

Ms Williams considers Tuhoe leader Tamati Kruger would be a good candidate.

It’s that time. Candidates are dipping their toes in the water and throwing their hats in the ring. A year and a bit out from the next election, here’s how the field is looking:

Te Tai Tokerau

Mana: Hone Harawira (certainty)
Maori Party: none
Labour: Kelvin Davis (maybe). There’s another name floating around the rumour circuit - one that most Maori will recognise - but I’ll wait for that person to confirm or deny their intention.

Tamaki Makaurau 

Mana: Too early to say
Maori: Pita Sharples (a near certainty)
Labour: Shane Jones (a high chance)


Mana: Angeline Greensill (a veteran in the seat, it’s unclear whether she’ll stand again)
Maori: Tuku Morgan (it’s on the record that he wants the Maori Party presidency, the next step is the HW seat)
Labour: Nanaia Mahuta (a more than even chance of standing. On the one hand, she’s out of favour in many Labour circles and busy caring for her new born. On the other hand, she's embedded in the seat and does't look ready to pass it on)


Mana: Annette Sykes (unless she stands in Tamaki-Makaurau or the (possible) eighth electorate)
Maori: Te Ururoa Flavell (a strong possibility, provided the party offers him a clear path to the leadership. If not, a less than even chance of standing).
Labour: still looking for a suitable candidate.


Mana: no one with a realistic chance
Maori: Na Rongowhakaata Raihania (a strong chance. A former candidate and one of the more impressive ones).
Labour: Parekura Horomia (if Parekura doesn’t find an appropriate successor, expect to see him give it one last go)

Te Tai Hauauru

Mana: Too early to say, potentially Misty Harrison
Maori: Rahui Katene has announced her intention to take the seat. Kaapua Smith is also mentioned.
Labour: The rumour circuit is running hot here too, but I’m not going to name names. It’s unlikely that Soraya Peke-Mason will stand again.

Te Tai Tonga

Mana: too early to say
Maori: Rahui Katene is the default candidate, but she appears more interested in Te Tai Hauauru.
Labour Rino Tirikatene (certainty)

Eighth seat 

Mana: Annette Sykes (potentially), Willie Jackson (potentially), Kereama Pene (potentially), Clinton Dearlove (potentially).
Maori: ?
Labour: another prominent name is doing the rounds here too. Again, I’ll hold back on naming that person.

The Greens

To demonstrate the Green's commitment to kaupapa Maori politics, Metiria Turei should consider standing in the (possible) eighth seat. That'd be a candidacy I'd support and one that could open the field. In the other electorates, Dora Langsbury and Jack McDonald have form from the last election and should consider another run. 

Other names

Moana Maniapoto is, apparently, positioning herself for a run (with Labour). People have mentioned Maria Bargh, but in a "I wish Maria Bargh was standing" way rather than "Maria Bargh wants to stand". Veronica Tawhai, an academic at Massey University, is also mentioned as a possible candidate for Mana. Meng Foon is a common name, but it's unclear whether he'd want to stand, let alone have a shot at an electorate. Marama Davidson would make an outstanding candidate too, just saying. 

General comments

The momentum is with Labour. The Maori electorate appears to be reverting to its default setting - strong Labour. Mana is in a lull, the Maori Party is dominating Maori political discourse for all the wrong reasons and the Greens - despite having well developed Maori policy and strong Maori faces - are not seen to be as committed to kaupapa Maori politics in the way that Labour, Mana and the Maori Party are. 


  1. Hi Morgan, you're right about the momentum being with Labour, and it being a default setting. Maori Roll voters have always wanted Labour and independent Maori parties to work together (all the polling asking that question since 2004 have stated that. The Maori Party has always denied and rejected that.) It's a shame they couldn't see past their differences.

  2. ...and one other quick comment. I don't think the Greens will ever make kaupapa Maori politics a priority. It fits within their environment-focus (or at least they try to make it fit), not the other way around.

    1. Watch this space - it's certainly actively discussed in GP policy debates but also a bit chicken and egg: a large chuck of the Māori Green members left after the Māori Party was established and rather than going back after the Māori Party went with National they moved on to Mana, and fair enough. So without a critical mass of Māori within the Green Party it will take some time to work out how a predominantly Pākehā party should model a Treaty-based relationship both within the Party and with other political parties that have a commitment to protecting the rights and responsibilities of Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tīriti.

    2. Hi Manu,

      I should correct myself from the message I left above yours. I forgot the Treaty is ranked 4th in the GP's list of long-term goals, and the Charter recognises it and the tangata whenua status of iwi Maori.

      Not bad for the only party in Parliament that isn't a fractured offshoot of Labour or National. Truly independent.

      There'll probably be a lot of young first-time voters signing up on the Maori Roll this year. It might be tempting for the GP to consider contesting for the Maori seats to win that rangatahi vote.

      I hope they don't. The strategy of prioritising party votes over electorate votes works. Why split meagre campaign resources to contest what are geographically-huge seats unless you can virtually guarantee a win?

  3. You've heard wrong morgan. Moana has been touted as a possible mana candidate 4 auckland.

    1. This makes more sense. I'd like to see her throw her hat in.

  4. In what way do you see Labour being committed to "kaupapa Māori politics" - perhaps the Greens not being seen to be committed in the same way Labour are is a good thing?!

  5. I dont know who i would vote for out of Annette Sykes and Willie Jackson I like them both.

  6. Don't do it Tamati Kruger! The journey to Parliament is a one-way ticket to Hell!

  7. The lack of Maori support for the Green Party is an interesting phenomenon. The Greens have one of the most pro-Maori policy platforms of any political party and unquestionably the most pro-Maori platforms of any party that doesn't explicitly frame itself as a party for Maori. And yet their Maori support is almost totally neglible. Why is this?

  8. Hugh,

    Just my opinion but I think one key reason for the lack of Maori voter support for the Greens is its leadership. Maori voters seem to have a preference for leaders who display qualities of strength and charisma. I'm not saying the Green leaders don't possess those qualities but it's of a different nature.

    Green philosophy puts sustainable development and the environment at the heart of its political movement. Maori politics places that philosophy alongside issues centred around the expression of tino rangatiratanga. The difference may appear subtle but it is significant.

    1. Agreed, Maori political movements form around charismatic leaders and important issues. We can't explain Maori political allegiances through, say, cold policy analysis only.

      Meteria is awesome, but I don't think she is seen to embody the concepts of rangatiratanga (not yet anyway). As per anon above, another explanation is that kaupapa Maori issues are subsumed and can be perceived as subordinate to another agenda. The same can be said of Labour, but Maori have a historical (and still strong) relationship. A number of Maori have too much respect for history to discard that relationship lightly.

    2. Just for interest - Green performance for the Party Vote in the Maori electorates in 2011 was as follows:

      Te Tai Tonga 15.8
      Te Tai Hauāuru 11.2
      Tāmaki Makaurau 9.7
      Ikaroa-Rāwhiti 9.4
      Hauraki-Waikato 9.1
      Waiariki 8.8
      Te Tai Tokerau 8.6

      The three lowest voting electorates in the country for the Greens were:

      Manurewa 3.9
      Māngere 3.8
      Manukau East 3.4

      The Greens definitely need a better Maori and Pacific strategy they are performing terribly in solidly left seats.

      I'd argue that they should stay away from challenging for electorate seats in a highly crowded field in the Maori Seats and instead push the party vote message heavily. They should also get their leadership out on the streets campaigning heavily in South Auckland next year - 3-4% in South Auckland is an embarrassment given their policy platforms...

    3. I think the problem with the greens is that they're predominantly perceived as a middle class Pākehā party which is really reflected in their caucus (apart from Metiria) and much of their membership. It's ironic given their strong focus on kaupapa issues but if they want to do well in the Māori electorates, they're really going to have to promote strong Māori candidates up their list.

  9. Morgan,

    I think perhaps we as Maori sometimes place too much emphasis on charismatic, strong leadership. It's easy to understand why. For so long what we value has been vulnerable to tyranny from the majority.

    I do hope that someday soon we'll see our values expressed practically in political terms, in a way that doesn't scare the bejesus out of non-Maori NZ (or most of us too btw) - and keep the best of our leadership style (when it's together, it's REALLY together).

  10. Are the media reports correct? Is Pita getting rid of Te Ururoa? Man, is the party imploding that much?



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