Nov 25, 2011

The week in Maori politics

It’s been a long week, don’t you think? I can’t wait for it all to be over. But anyway, here is the summary of the week in Maori politics:


There were a few stories on Monday. The Maori Party moved to clarify their position on asset sales. The party leaders reiterated that the Maori Party opposes asset sales, but, key word but, if the sales were to go ahead the Maori Party would swing behind iwi. Hollow opposition to be honest, but supremely pragmatic. On the topic of the Maori Party Pita Sharples informed Radio New Zealand that he “must” be at the Cabinet Table if Don Brash is there. Pita, it appears, sees himself as a counterbalance against the redneck Brash.

Te Karere released their last poll this time on Te Tai Tonga. The poll put the incumbent Rahui Katene 11 points ahead of Labour’s Rino Tirikatene. Labour was expecting to win Te Tai Tonga; however this is far from assured now. The Maori Party look set to retain all of their seats.

Native Affairs ran their final electorate debate this time in Tamaki Makaurau. Pita Sharples clashed with Shane Jones, Mana’s Kereama Pene and the Green’s Mikaere Curtis. In my opinion, all four men performed well. Joshua Hitchcock provides a useful review here.

Waatea News led with the angle that Labour relegated Maori issues during the campaign. This was a continuation of the angle they ran last week.

Mana’s foreign policy launch still had legs on Monday. John Minto announced, or re-announced is probably the better description, Mana’s plan to recall New Zealand troops in Afghanistan and use the $40m that would save to “feed the kids”. Make lunch not war as Damien Christie says. Minto also called for immigrants from the Pacific to be given the same status as immigrants from Australia.


Maori politicians bombarded each other with claims and counter claims on Tuesday. Labour’s Nanaia Mahuta claimed that asset sales will diminish the Crown’s ability to settle treaty claims. Once, for example, power companies are sold to private interests the Crown’s ability to recognise, for example, Maori water rights will be diminished because those rights will have to be balanced against the interests and rights of private owners. I hope I have paraphrased her argument correctly.

The Maori Party told us not to send Hone Harawira to do the groceries. The Maori Party claimed that Mana’s costing for their breakfasts in schools program was well over $40m. Pita Sharples reckoned the price of providing breakfast to all children in low deciles schools is closer to $500m.

Labour’s Kelvin Davis gained some traction and came out against Anne Tolley. Davis attacked the Education Minister’s decision to close a successful class for mainly Maori students. According to opponents Tolley closed the class as punishment for Moerewa School’s refusal to implement National Standards.


Hone Harawira delivered his state of the nation speech in South Auckland. Harawira called for a war on poverty. Harawira also outlined some of Mana’s policies, like the abolition of GST, and emphasised the history and strength of Mana’s team (Sykes, Minto and Bradford).

The Maori Party leaders met in Wellington to discuss post election arrangements. Tariana Turia spoke to the Herald’s Audrey Young and seemed to, or at least this is how I see it, be implying that if the Maori Party hold the balance of power they will support National. The Maori Party have already stated that if National can form a government without the Maori Party then they will still pursue an agreement similar to the one the two parties made in 2008. Anyway, Turia informed Young that the Maori Party deal with National was aimed at building “a lasting and respectful relationship”. Emphasis on lasting. It is also worth keeping in mind John Key’s reluctance to use the Maori Party as a bogeyman. In fact Key has openly praised the Maori Party. The Maori Party have also refrained from really criticising National. Another factor that may come into play is Pita Sharples close relationship with John Key.


On Radio New Zealand Phil Goff reiterated his position on Hone Harawira – he can’t be trusted according to Goff. Goff went so far as to say he won’t work with Mana rather than just Hone.

Morning Report held their minor leaders debate. For a review see this from Tim Slewyn.

The Thursday night polls from the two main news networks didn’t make great viewing for Maori. Mana dangled around 1%, the Maori Party between 1.5 and 2%. Labour was on 28% in the One News poll and 26% on the 3 News poll. However, the Greens, who are always supporters of things Maori, sat between 10 and 13%.

Finally, I put out my picks for the Maori electorates at Pundit.


In the Herald I write on how Maori can make their vote count. Willie Jackson and I also discuss the Maori seats on Morning Report.

I think the most significant story today was Te Ururoa Flavell’s claim that the Maori Party have “undersold” themselves.

And that brings the week to a close and, of course, the election. Tomorrow is voting day so please, please get out there and vote. Don’t forget to vote for MMP too. Soon after the election I’ll be posting a few election post mortem pieces. I’ll review each parties campaign, some individual politicians and I’ll also take a look at the issues that I think were important/influenced the way Maori voted.

If you want a full overview of the election in Maori politics see this post on week 1 of the campaign, week 2 and week 3.

Lastly, thanks for reading me over the campaign. Over the past four weeks on average 1000 of you view this blog each day. The lowest number of views was Wednesday with only 700 and the highest was in the second week when it hit over 2000. When the election's over please don't leave me! I think I'll still be interesting. 

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