Best Maori politicians

Morgan Godfery at Maui Street blogs his picks:

Best Maori MP: Louisa Wall – for services to equality and old school lobbying. 

Best Maori Minister: Paula Bennett – a competent manager, good communicator and is overseeing some innovative programmes. 

Best Maori electorate MP: Parekura Horomia – for what he lacks on the national stage, he makes up for on the ground. His majority (the largest in the Maori electorates) wasn’t a mistake. 

Most improved: Te Ururoa Flavell – after a shocking 2011 and despite a fail on education in 2012, Flavell has made up ground with his strong support for Tuhoe, competent debate performances and electorate work. 

Most consistent: Metiria Turei – points for tireless advocacy for Maori, women and beneficiaries. Always takes a consistent and articulate line. Stand out performer in the Native Affairs debates.

Joshua Hitchcock also provides his list:

The Iwi Leaders Group

Without a doubt the big winners from 2012, the Iwi Leaders Group have established themselves as the go-to national Māori body for Crown engagement on national issues.  They have established a good working relationship with the Government over the past 18 months, and have clearly adopted the approach of working with Government to achieve progress for Māori rights over a more antagonistic approach.  While many question their standing and their beliefs (occasionally referred to disparagingly as the “Iwi Elite”), you cannot overlook the fact that this self-selected group comprise the elected leaders of many of the major Iwi in the country. With this comes a lot of weight, and a lot of influence with the Government.

Paula Bennett 

This may come as a surprise to many of my readers, but I consider Paula Bennett to be the Māori politician of the year.  You might question her kaupapa, but to survive the MSD security breach scandal and to oversee the most drastic reform to our welfare system since Jenny Shipley in the early 1990s is no easy task.  Add to that the ease with which she brushes aside the attacks from Jacinda Ardern in the House and you have a Māori politician who appears brilliant at her job.  With the remainder of the National Party Māori caucus either failing to fire (Henare, T) or making a complete fool of themselves (Parata, H), having one competent Māori in the National front bench, regardless of her politics, is something to celebrate.

Louisa Wall

Runner-up in the Māori politician of the year awards, Louisa Wall has shown herself to be the exemplary opposition M.P.  Having such a contentious bill pass its first reading with a massive majority is no easy task for an opposition M.P, what makes her all the more remarkable is the effort she  undertook to sit down with opponents, listen to their concerns, and quietly convince them of her case.  A future Minister of Māori Affairs, if not destined for higher honours.

Tariana Turia

It is hard to think of a Māori politician who has made as great an impact as Tariana Turia has over her 18 years in Parliament.  Her decision to cross the floor on the Foreshore and Seabed Act led to the formation of not one, but two Kaupapa Māori political parties and a renewed influence of Māori politicians in the House.  While Whanau Ora is a mere shadow of her initial dream, her efforts to curb smoking in Aotearoa have been immense and caused even given the big Tobacco companies something to worry about.  Her decision to retire marks the great cross roads in Māori politics.  Can the Māori Party survive without her, or will the independent Māori voice represented by the Māori Party and Te Mana be dragged back into the welcoming arms of the Labour Party?

The National Party

Yes, the National Party are one of the big winners of 2012.  While the partial asset sale programme has been delayed, a crushing victory in the High Court a few weeks ago means that it will take a miracle in January to bring about a final halt to their key policy platform.  Ructions within Ngāpuhi aside, they have also made great strides in settling historical grievance claims with Hapū and Iwi and an historic Tuhoe settlement is on the cards for early 2014 – a mere two years after it lay in tatters.

Rahui Katene

With the retirement of Tariana Turia in 2014, Rahui Katene looks set to succeed to her Te Tai Hauaurau electorate seat and, by extension, the co-leadership of the Māori Party.  Her work with the New Zealand Māori Council, and a renewed effort working at the ground level, has seen her restore the mana lost when she was defeated at last years election.  Expect to see and hear more from Rahui in 2013 as the Māori Party look to position her as Tariana’s natural successor.

Both Maori bloggers (whose politics are quite different) cite Paula Bennett and Louisa Wall as having done well.

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