Jones' bid for the Labour leadership has opened a divide between the left and the tino rangatiratanga movement. Maori politics exists apart from the left-right divide, apparently. But I don't think that's true. Maori politics exists beneath the left-right divide.
Maori political history isn't rich with choice. Asking or telling us to wait for a more "progressive" candidate is deeply offensive. Maori have waited - and with relative patience - for the opportunity to elect a Maori prime minister for more than a century. The Maori renaissance and (more recently) the emergence of the Maori Party and the Mana Movement signals that Maori political patience has built to its limits. Carrie was right when she wrote that "the insistent hating [of Jones] overshadows a potentially major historical moment in NZ".
The Maori approach to power is changing and Jones is the most recent personification of that approach. When the left denies Jones, its denying Maori political power. It's uncomfortable. In some respects it smacks of the politics of the 20th century. When Maori stepped outside of the political role that society had created for them - as mihi men, singing women and glorified lapdogs - they were shut out. See Matiu Rata and Tariana Turia about that.
I remain ambivalent about Jones - partly for, partly against. The self aggrandising attacks against feminism grate. The struggle for gender equality shouldn't and can't be divorced from the struggle for ethnic equality. Attacking feminism doesn't empower the tino rangatiratanga movement, but weakens it. Solidarity works best when it's solidarity with all marginalised groups - whether it's women, the disabled, the LGBT community or other Polynesians - and equality works best when it's equality for the whole and not the parts.
What I'm getting at is this: I tautoko Jones because of what he represents - Maori political empowerment. But his approach to empowerment, well, not so much.
Tangata takahi manuhiri, he marae puehu - a person who mistreats guests has a dusty Marae. The saying captures the idea of manaakitanga. It captures the approach the tino rangatiratanga movement - and by extension Jones - should take towards friends in the left. But that works in reverse too: the left should keep in mind why Jones' run is important to our movement.
Post script: According to the latest Te Karere poll Maori prefer Jones by a large margin. And again for transparency: I endorsed DC earlier in the race.