This post will be the first in a series summarising the week in Maori politics. Maori politics is taking a backseat – even more than usual – which is, to be fair, expected.
The week kicked off with the Mana Party lending support to lowering the Maori retirement age to 60. The Maori Party did great work to initially highlight the fact that life expectancy for Maori is lower than that for non-Maori. Many Maori men will pay tax their entire working life but never reach the retirement age. Fundamentally, it’s about equity and equality. Maori should have the opportunity to collect the pension at the same rate as non-Maori.
The Maori Party also announced their idea to insert a “Treaty clause” into the Overseas Investment Act. The clause would give Iwi, I believe, a right of pre-emption on land the Government is intending to sell to overseas interests. I like this idea, but would like to see it extended to non-Maori New Zealanders/organisations too.
TVNZ (Te Karere) Te Tai Tokerau poll results were also released on Monday. The poll put Hone ahead of his rivals. Poll results from Maori electorates must be analysed with care (the sample is small, usually no adjustments for income, age and sex sampling error and non-landline voters are missed), having said that the results from this poll seem consistent with what I have perceived on the ground.
A quiet day in Maori politics, the highlight was the Mana Movement and the Maori Party releasing their lists. Surprising, but encouraging, to see two young (I won’t say rangatahi) women highly placed. Misty Harrison is ranked at number 5 on the Mana list. If Mana get a very good result Misty will be in. Kaapua Smith is ranked number 2 on the Maori Party list. It’s very unlikely she will make it in. The only scenario I can see is if the Maori Party win only one seat and get a better than expected share of the party vote.
On Wednesday the Nat’s released their welfare proposals and the Maori Party stated that it would not be a deal breaker. The Te Tai Hauauru debate was held in Whanganui and Tariana confirmed her position as the favourite while Jack McDonald, the 18 year old Green candidate, confirmed his position as a rising leader. It’s bloody encouraging to see so many young Maori succeeding. Think Jack, Ngaa Raauira Pumanawawhiti and Natalie Coates.
Mana led with their proposal to give a $1000 Christmas bonus to workers earning $30,000 or under. This is consistent with the party’s idea to pull NZ troops out of Afghanistan and use the money to provide breakfast and lunch in decile 1-5 schools. Top notch idea if you ask me. At my decile one Primary School I knew of several kids that would turn up to school having not had breakfast or having packed no lunch. Often I’d have to share my lunch with my mates because they were too poor to afford food. Often when they did have food it was because their parents had given them a few dollars to buy rubbish like pies and chips. The same thing happened at my decile 7 high school. And that was a decile 7.
The Maori Party also announced they would support asset sales under certain conditions, namely that if the assets go to Iwi under some mechanism then the party would support the sales.
The leading news this morning is that the Maori Party may revisit the Marine and Coastal Area Act if Iwi are unhappy. Of course the announcement was given to Rahui Katene (most TV appearances, announcements etc have been given to Rahui to increase her profile – she is in the most marginal seat after all). The Maori Party know Iwi are unhappy with the Act. Wasn’t it something like all the Maori submissions but one were against the Act? It is a smart position for the Maori Party to take. I think many of the soft Maori Party supporters who can’t bring themselves to vote Maori Party again will revaluate their voting intentions after this, quite significant, announcement.
The Maori Party also told Radio New Zealand that:
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says National's poorly designed employment policies, including the 90-day work trial, are affecting the vulnerable.
She is particularly concerned that, in the three months to September, unemployment for Maori rose from 13.7% to 15.1% and went up to 13.8% for Pacific Islanders.
The Maori Party is trying to put a bit of distance between them and the Nat's. The leadership knows that their deal with National is unpopular and that many Maori do not approve of the Government's policy direction. Again, smart politics from the Maori Party, but I doubt it will make this much difference so late in the game.
Radio New Zealand also reported on a Te Tai Tonga debate in Dunedin while Kelvin Davis informed Waatea News that Hone's supporters are setting a bad example up North.
Labour has, and continues to be, pretty quiet. Mana and Maori are left to direct Maori political discourse. C'mon Labour, step up.
If there is anything I missed feel free to leave a comment.