It was slow going in Maori politics this week. Below I’ve summarised and commented on the main events.
News on Monday was dominated by the Mana Movement’s campaign launch at a Marae in South Auckland. In a quite deliberate and symbolic move the launch was held on Guy Fawkes day. There wasn’t really anything radical or new to come out of the day.
Native Affairs Kowhiri 11 Waiariki debate was held on Monday night. Te Ururoa Flavell (Maori Party), Annette Sykes (Mana) and Louis Te Kani (Labour) went head to head on issues like family violence and a motorway that will cut through the Puarenga Stream. Interestingly, Louis Te Kani put his head out and said, should he win, he will resign if the motorway goes ahead. In contrast, Labour’s Steve Chadwick (who was at the debate) supports the motorway (she didn’t point that out at the debate though of course). I called the debate for Annette and sparked heated debate with many commenters calling it for Te Ururoa and some even expressing support for Louis Te Kani.
A Te Karere Digi-poll surveying the Tamaki Makaurau electorate was released on Monday and showed Pita Sharples enjoys a comfortable lead over Labour’s Shane Jones and Mana’s Kereama Pene. This wasn’t in itself a surprise, but the extent of Pita’s support was. The poll indicated Pita enjoys a clear majority (58% support).
Tuesday was an empty day. The highlight was probably Kereama Pene saying Mana will not sit down with Kupapa. This we already know, but it was fascinating to see Pene invoke that sort of language. In fact, it was fascinating to see him speak to media at all. I would have thought that Matt McCarten would have tied a tight leash to him.
Another slow day. The only highlight was the Ikaroa-Rawhiti debate between Parekura Horomia (Labour), Na Raihania (Maori Party) and Tawhai McClutchie (Mana). I called the debate for Parekura, but I think had Na not endorsed National Standards the debate could have easily gone his way. Parekura has done his campaign no disservice and will probably cruise to victory.
A very busy day as far as the Maori Party was concerned. The party released their education policy which called for universal access to Te Reo Maori in schools. A great policy. If Maori, or non-Maori too, want to learn te reo then it should be available as a subject at all schools – or at the very least at all state schools. Te Reo Maori is an official language, an integral part of New Zealand society and giving effect to te reo is recognising the Crown’s obligation under the Treaty to actively protect Maori taonga.
Tariana Turia also called for a review of Te Puni Kokiri. I’m not sure if this is needed, but it sounds reasonable. What bad can come of it? None in my mind.
In the Herald I stick it to Labour for failing to enter or influence Maori political discourse. Labour is leaving Mana and the Maori Party to direct Maori political discourse and, as a result, allowing the two parties an opportunity to eat in to one of Labour's traditional support bases i.e. Maori voters. I need to eat some of my words though because what does Goff go and do – he makes a headline at Waatea News. Let’s hope to see some follow up from Labour.
Hone Harawira participates in a live chat on Stuff.co.nz. Hone confirms he will never work with National and provides a few insightful one-liners like "Charities exist where governments fail".
The Maori Party policy on making te reo universally available in schools still has legs.