Nov 26, 2013

Winning in Te Tai Hauauru

The Maori Party has revealed that six candidates will contest the nomination for Te Tai Hauauru. From the party website:

Hundreds of Maori Party members from throughout the electorate gathered at Whangaehu Marae south of Whanganui yesterday to hear from the six nominees and cast their vote... The nominees are: 
  • Frana Chase; 
  • Rahui Katene; 
  • James Makowharemahihi; 
  • Christopher McKenzie; 
  • Amokura Panoho; 
  • Pakake Winiata.

With the exception of Rahui Katene, these aren't big names. Or put it this way: there isn't a Julian Wilcox. But the party doesn't need a name candidate. Tariana Turia's endorsement and support could be enough to keep the electorate in Maori Party hands. It'd be reckless - and more than unfair - to underestimate the respect and support Tariana has earnt and enjoys. Ken Mair makes an important point, though - "we aren’t looking for a candidate to fill Tariana’s shoes. We are looking for a candidate to carve a new path".

The Maori Party needs to rebuild its identity. The Maori renaissance is over and the post-settlement era is beginning. Tariana and Pita Sharples were - and to some extent still are - central figures from the Maori renaissance. New hands are needed to redevelop what a Maori party looks like in 2013. Being loosely pro-Maori doesn't cut it when three other parties can credibly claim the same rationale (Greens, Labour, Mana).

There's increasing political choice in the Maori electorates. Labour's monopoly is over and the two-way battles of 2005 and 2008 were short lived. Four parties can credibly claim that they're contenders. In an environment where each seat is contested vigorously the Maori Party needs to have something more. New blood is better positioned to redefine the contract between the Maori Party and Maori society than the old hands. That's why the decision in Te Tai Hauauru might be the most important decision the party makes. Good luck to them.


  1. 'Four parties can credibly claim that they're contenders'

    Pretty generous to the Greens to include them in that group. In time possibly, but not by November 2014.

    1. If the Greens aren't contenders in Te Tai Hauāuru, then Mana certainly aren't either. In 2011, our campaign here was more successful than Mana's was. We out polled them in both the candidate vote and the party vote.

      Rightly or wrongly, down here Mana is seen as a party of the North, and our politics in Te Tai Hauāuru is very different to the politics that Mana practises in seats like Ikaroa-Rāwhiti and Te Tai Tokerau.

    2. I would agree actually, Mana is especially weak here. Perhaps a reflection of the lack of investment of scarce resource - it wouln't make much sense for Mana to focus on Te Tai Hauāuru compared to other seats. I think Mana probably has more potential in the seat, though that is only speculation.

    3. I think they'd be better to focus on Hone's campaign and a campaign to unseat Meka Whaitiri. They're too weak in the other seats (with the exception of Tamaki Makaurau, but if Julian Wilcox, Shane Taurima or Shane Jones stand there it is almost a done deal for Labour).

    4. I think their wider strategy would be better focused on (a) winning Te Tai Tokerau (b) nationwide party-vote campaign. Now (b) could be well-served by strong Maori electorate challenges (MANA was one of the best in 2011 in converting votes for electorate candidates into party votes as well), but I would like to see it have a more explicit focus. It is another step toward building a sustainable mass-party, and (in my humble opinion) a better chance at getting more seats.

  2. I broadly agree. But the Green vote is rising. In 2011 they out polled the Maori Party in Te Tai Tonga. In Te Tai Tonga and Te Tai Hauauru their candidates out polled the Mana candidates. With the right candidates, the Greens have a serious shot in some electorates. I think it's fair to say a win is possible, but not probable. Not yet.

    1. That's not true. If you have a look at the official results, Rahui got 5,311 whereas Langsbury got 2,546 votes. Ms Katene outpolled the Greens.

    2. I know. That's why I said "the *Green vote*" and "the *Maori Party*". I was referring to the party vote. If I was referring to the candidate vote I would have mentioned their names.

    3. The candidates themselves are paramount to victory in the Maori seats.

      It is no coincidence that Parekura Horomia and Nanaia Mahuta, the two most senior Maori electorate MPs in the last Labour government, were the only two who held their seats following the emergence of the Maori Party.

      Te Hamua Nikora's performance in the by-election is another example of this. Mana didn't really register here in the general election, but their campaign showed that they could have momentum anywhere with the right person, so why not in Te Tai Hauauru?

      Polls by Te Karere and others which ask which party one would give their electorate vote is therefore quite meaningless.

      That being said, the Maori Party would be hard-pressed to have a real go at any electorate they didn't already hold, and even the most spirited Mana campaign (outside of Te Tai Tokerau) would struggle against the Labour Party machine.

    4. I would agree, a good candidate can make all the difference, regardless of whether it is in a Maori or general Electorate. I think Mana has a genuine chance in Waiariki, and a dark horse chance in Ikaroa-Rawhiti, given the calibre of candidates in those electorates (Annette Sykes and Te Hamua Nikora respectively). But yes, I would also agree that outside of Te Tai Tokerau the party would struggle against Labour, especially if the Maori Party was also in the picture. This is why I think Mana would do better to concentrate on winning TTT and otherwise working for the party vote, from both a strategic perspective and befitting their goal of building a mass movement not necessarily based on race. But that is my particular hobby horse, and for all I know the party is doing that already.

    5. I reckon Metiria Turei could win Te Tai Tonga if she stood. Rino Tirikatene IMO is the weakest candidate to have won a Maori electorate in living memory.

      As for Mana, I think Ikaroa-Rawhiti is winnable if they can cut a deal with the Maori Party there.



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.