Nov 14, 2011

Native Affairs Kowhiri 11: Tai Tokerau review

I don’t have too much to say about the Tai Tokerau debate on Native Affairs. The three candidates, Hone, Kelvin and Waihoroi Shortland, were pretty even. If forced to pick a winner I’d go with Kelvin. Yes, Kelvin not Hone. Hone was certainly the most authorative, but Kelvin was the most articulate. He focussed firmly on Labour policy without peppering his answers with useless rhetoric. Yes, Hone and Waihoroi were guilty of providing meaningless, read useless, answers. However, I think the criticism that Kelvin is too “wooden” is well placed. This may have something to do with Kelvin remembering his lines too well and he comes across as scripted. I tend to think, or I know from personal experience, that that’s just how Kelvin is. To me it makes no difference.

Having said the above, on a strict points decision the night probably belongs to Hone. Hone speaks well off the cuff and he knows better than anyone how to connect with Maori on a personal level. One thing Hone does well is use colloquialism without taking away from the authority of his message. Maori, well New Zealanders actually, like their politicians to speak like them. That’s part of the appeal of John Key. Where Americans appreciate soaring rhetoric New Zealanders enjoy understated and familiar language. Hone understands this. Many New Zealand politicians are guilty of trying to be like Obama.

Waihoroi was strong in parts and weak in others. He did well to highlight the Maori Party’s role in securing funding for treating rheumatic fever in the north. Waihoroi is much better in te reo than English. He suffers from the problem many fluent Maori speakers suffer from – they speak English like they speak te reo. English is not meant to be spoken in the same manner as te reo. I’m nitpicking here, but one of the problems fluent Maori speakers have is that they can be too verbose. English is about simplicity whereas Maori is often about heavy metaphors, animation and so on. When someone speaks English like they speak te reo the message can be bogged down and lost. This isn’t an attack on Waihoroi, he did well, this is just a general observation.

In fairness, the night was probably too close to call. But I’ll give it Kelvin for focussing on policy. Kelvin provided a template for how political discourse in this country should be run.


  1. Hone established great points about the issues raised. I did not come across any personal attacks on either of the candidates this time round as the crowd would have definately been a little rough here in Te Tai Tokerau.

  2. iv already had my say in reguards to this issue if any dout as to the validity to my trues in reguards to terarawa there is a fella over ther by the name of anaru ngawaka that can confirm also may i sugest robert urlich or afectionatly know as T rex rex murry any can confirm my lines as can anaru harriman in short iv no debate about who i am and were im from and if the old man can choose as to which ever he wanted to speak on then non can deny nga tai e whitu !!! because this australian of maori descent has got a memory and a half just because i cant spell to good dont mean ya dont get my drift 0})0;)0:)...

  3. the problem many fluent Maori speakers suffer from they speak English like they speak te reo. You are part of the problem. Its people like you who try to make comment about kaupapa maori in English.
    Come to my marae and say this to me and my people
    and the problem will be yours. The problem wont lie with fluent Maori speakers.

  4. I didn't mean that in a malicious way. Nor is it "a problem". That was an unfortunate choice of words. It is just an observation that I think holds back some Maori politicians trying to operate in the Pakeha world.

  5. Kelvin has the training to talk the talk and become another ineffective make-up-the-numbers Maori kupapa politician with no real answers to systemic problems. Substance goes to Hone while looking purrrdy and soundbytes go to Kelvin.



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.