Sep 28, 2011

The Maori Party decline

Metiria Turei delivers her usual good analysis. From Waatea News:

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says the Maori Party will be punished by voters for being so close to National.
Ms Turei says after 15 years of parliamentary politics, the Greens have learned how to get its policies and programmes accepted without being in government.

“The problem for the Maori Party is they’ve got no leverage. They can’t make National do anything. So they can’t stop them doing bad things, they can’t make them do good things, everything the Maori Party gets is because National wants, allows them to have it. And a party like them who were campaining on their tino rangatiratanga, their independence as a Maori force, that was a big cost,” Ms Turei says.

I agree. I do get annoyed, although only slightly, when Maori Party supporters start to attack the party for bedding down with National in the first place. Remember, it was Maori Party supporters who sanctioned the unholy alliance after the party undertook an extensive tour across the motu consulting with Maori Party members and Maori generally.

At its most basic, the Maori Party forgot one thing: the voters are always right, even when they’re wrong. Turia, Sharples, Flavell and Katene may have thought they could rationalise their actions - think the MCA Act, the ETS and the tax switch (GST increase etc) – but the voters thought otherwise. Turia and co. have spent the past electoral cycle trying to justify their legislative actions. One would have thought after years of attempting to bend Maori to their (as in the Maori Party caucus) view that they would have conceded defeat and, in an act of self preservation, bowed to dissenting opinion.

Hone Harawira once told me, and the evidence suggest that this is true, that not a single strategic thought ever crosses the minds of the Maori Party caucus. The chief example of this, for want of a better description, strategic famine came during the passage of the Marine and Coastal Areas Act (MCA Act). Despite widespread opposition from the Maori the party pushed ahead with the Act. The majority of submissions from Maori were opposed to the Act, Maori in the media made it clear that they were not happy with the Act and that they feel Maori were not either and, most significantly, a hikoi, reminiscent of the hikoi of 2004 which gave birth to the Maori Party, left the far north and arrived at the steps of Parliament delivering grief and despair. Despite this, and more, the party pushed ahead and signed their own death certificate.

It takes an especially foolish person to tell their supporters they are wrong. It was not like the party was taking a principled stand. They were just fulfilling a promise in the emptiest sense. That promise was to repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004. Repeal it they did, but replace it with something acceptable and durable they did not. As soon as Mana comes within a whiff of government the MCA Act is gone and it will be open season on the foreshore and seabed debate – again.     

The Maori Party often try to justify their position and say that it is better to be at the table than not. Well, firstly, they are not at the table – they’re Ministers outside of Cabinet. Secondly, is it better to be at the table when your supposed partner prostitutes you? Much like when National used the Maori Party to pass the ETS. Or is it better to be on the outside picking away and earning victories where you can? Much like the Greens.

The Maori Party will pay for their stupidity. The tide is going out on the Maori Party and rising at the feet of the Mana Movement. I often wonder why we, as in Maori, fail to succeed in maintaining successful kauapapa Maori parties. Is it some sort of post colonial condition? Or are we useless politicians? Or maybe these things take time (we are still young after all). Honestly, I don’t know, but I’m hoping Mana will prove sustainable and that Maori in “mainstream” parties begin to take a more prominent role.    

On an unrelated note it appears I was on Closeup last night (the 27th), not Monday night, if you're interested here is the link.


  1. fuck yeah! i totally agree with you morgan. i think there is a need for more to gain fair representation in nz. this cannot happen in a co-alition with national g

  2. Great blog Morgan. You hit the nail on the head.

  3. I guess the Marae-Digipoll kinda contradicts your points, mate. So much for the downfall of the Maori Party, it kicked arse on Mana. Im sure there be some loonies out there saying "its early days for Mana...", but the point is Hone had said Maori Party was already in decline and this poll shows thats a myth.

    Along with the myth that most Maori disagreed with the coalition with National and the Takutai Moana bill.

  4. Don't get too excited about the results of the Marae-digipoll there "Anonymous", they also predicted the Maori Party would sweep the Maori seats in 2005 and 2008.

  5. The electorate stats are ofcourse less reliable than the other questions of the poll. And I agree that they can change loads before election day.

    Harder to dismiss are the findings that:
    1. 56% of respondents believe that the Māori Party have represented Māori well.
    2. 54% of respondents support the Māori Party’s decision to vote for the Takutai Moana Act.
    3. Only 8.5% of Māori voters expressed support for Te Mana.

    I could go on, but you can't deny the implications of results such as this. They show without a doubt that there is vast agreement that the Maori Party have represented Maori well. Despite the repeated negative attacks from Mana.

  6. If you believe that the 'right wing' Maori Party (added emphasis) have represented Maori well, you're delusional. I'm not enormously impressed with Hone either, but he kept his word, which speaks volumes in te ao Maori.

    The MCA Act is a joke and I agree with you Morgan, the tide is going out on the Maori Party. I shall reserve judgment at this point on Mana, but Hone needs to get back up North and focus on holding his own.

  7. Holy cow! You're only 21!? Your blog belies the political insight of someone much older - kudos to you dude! I always enjoy your updates, they're well written and have a nice punch ;-)

  8. Just turned 20 actually... not sure where they got 21 from.

  9. chur Morgan, great analysis :) - you on Maori TV now discussing the Te Tai Tonga debate :) no doubt we'll be getting an invite to your 21st ;)



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