The Jones valedictory

May 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

was at is best in his valedictory speech last night. A 30 minute example of great oratory that had the House and spectators in laughter constantly – but also with some important messages.

Afterwards he had drinks at the Backbencher which had huge numbers of MPs, former MPs and staff there. I left around 2 am, and let’s just say today will be a very slow and painful day.

Some extracts from his valedictory:

The notion that the people who should come to see me at my valedictory are Willie Jackson, John Tamihere, Mr Prebble, Mr Douglas, and Ron Mark is a comment, perhaps, on the nature of my politics as a member of this side of the House. There is Willie Jackson, the Māori equivalent of Pam Corkery; John Tamihere, Labour’s No. 1 exile; and the two gentlemen who belong to that generation of Labour politicians of the day.

The Willie and JT lines were superb.

They are part of the legacy of the party that I belong to, that group of reformers including Sir Geoffrey Palmer, including Mike Moore, and including David Lange, who in my time as a young man was a hero in the political world. 

Jones had a message in his words here. Many in Labour today despise the 4th Labour Government. Jones was saying that while you can disagree with some of what they did, Labour should be proud of its history as a reforming party.

I was born in a little area in Kaitāia, Awanui. My dad was one of 17. My dad’s mother was born in 1893. She visited upon me, along with my mother and father, an enormous amount of love and affection for the Māori language and respect for the Anglican Church. Sorry, Mum, I did not always hold up that part of the bargain.


The first duty that I undertook, of an international character, on that committee was to lead a delegation to Rarotonga to advise them on transparency. The only problem with that delegation—it comprised Doug Woolerton, Murray McCully, and Hone Harawira, a tall order—was that while I was there, unfortunately, I fell off a motorbike. Despite parliamentary ambitions about transparency, I did everything I could to hide that accident from Heather Simpson and Helen Clark. Hone Harawira immediately reported it to Ruth Berry. By the time I got back to New Zealand, there were 25 messages from Heather Simpson and Helen Clark. If you do not believe me, I am willing to lift the leg of my trou, but for fear of sparking unintended consequences in my own caucus I will resist it.

Double heh.

My colleagues will tell you that I never agreed with Helen that we should have a shower head policy. But when you are a member of the team and junior, as I was, you deliver the policy of the day. As you recall, we were going to regulate the amount of water, have a certain covering for hot water heaters, and, as the water sort of dribbled into a bucket, then you could work out whether it was 8 minutes, 8 seconds, whatever it was. I knew I was in a dire situation when the only person who came to my rescue was Jeanette Fitzsimons. In those days the Greens were my fans.

One of his best lines.

 I want to acknowledge Annette King. Phil Goff was out of the country when John Key, in a fit of enthusiasm, decided that all credit card receipts should be made available to the public. If there was ever a motivation to get the CIA on to the Prime Minister, God knows that was it. Our deputy leader trusted me to go forward with one adviser, John Harvey , and front up to that issue. It did not cover me with a great deal of glory, but please know this: I never, ever ran, and I was prepared to front up to the media, whether it was good or bad. If I can say to Kelvin Davis as he comes in—because, Prime Minister, Parliament is now dishing out credit cards, and I understand they are called purchase cards—cash is king, brother; cash is king.

Possible the line with the most laughter.

To move away from a wee bit of levity, as my senior colleagues would know, you have fantastic opportunities when you are a Minister to rub shoulders with power brokers and incredibly influential people around the world. One night, Helen invited a number of us to dine with Condoleezza Rice . We were treated to an inordinately clever exposition and account of where affairs of the world, in terms of the military and economy, were. I went there in my self-drive car back to Tai Tokerau, and within 8 hours I picked up a hitchhiker. So here I am going from meeting with one of the most powerful women in the world, I am in the car, and I pick up a hitchhiker, a young Māori lad of similar age to my boy. As he sat in that car and we went down the road, I said to him …  “Close the window, it’s getting cold.” He said: “Oh, matua, I want to leave the window open.” I said: “Why’s that, son?” He said: “It makes me feel free, and I have just come out of a 3½ year lag from Ngāwhā prison.” If there ever was an incident within a short period of time that made me feel humble as a Māori parliamentarian and a junior Minister—to go from that level of power and influence, and still to have the confidence to relate to one of my own rangatahi on the other side of the tracks, so to speak.

I think that is one of Jones’ skills. He could relate to anyone from Condi Rice to the prisoner just released.

 I wanted to be a champion for industry, and I have been well supported by fisheries and forestry, and that enabled me to bring their ideas forward. I am a firm believer in trade. I admired, as a junior Minister, Phil Goff and the China free-trade deal. I will totally resist any suggestion that my country will grow richer by turning our back upon the essential importance of international trade.

A very strong implicit plea there for Labour not to become anti-trade and anti–industry. But I suspect he has lost that battle.

The most common question asked by people last night in the Backbencher was who can replace Shane in Labour. The most common answer was no-one. His departure does leave a void.

20 Responses to “The Jones valedictory”

  1. igm (2,470 comments) says:

    I would not have missed that wonderful spectacle for the world, it was fantastic!

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  2. Harriet (7,536 comments) says:

    “….His departure does leave a void….”

    The void will now turn into a bitch fight with gays, metrosexuals, hypersexuals, leso feminazis and other odds and sods all plying for public attention.

    To many rebels and not enough causes is the problem for Labour. They’ll invent some victims somewhere to represent if none come forward though.

    Maybe a minority of white males should come forward who want to ‘come out and identify with being German Shepards trapped inside males bodies’ – and want the right to hump women’s legs. 😎

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  3. EAD (3,900 comments) says:

    Good bloke – one of Labour’s best.

    His appointment though, like HC’s to the UN, or if you’ve been to an event like the above or spent anytime around the Beltway, you realise politics in Wellington is just a Dog and Pony show for the masses entertainment.

    The media would have us believe Labour and the Nats are vast ideological rivals with irreconcilable differences over everything when in reality you can barely slip a fag paper between them on most important issues and they’re all good mates behind the scenes.

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  4. trout (1,132 comments) says:

    Shane’s major gripe with the present Labour party; anti growth, anti jobs, anti industry etc., probably stems from Labour’s obsession with losing votes to the Greens and their belief that they need to match policies to keep their numbers up. Having followed Shane’s career I have always thought he was a bit of a buffoon with a slick tongue always prepared to dip his snout in the trough. There is no doubt that a politician with Maori ancestry avoids the critical analysis that other politicians get, but I guess that is what is called ‘positive discrimination’.

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  5. kowtow (13,217 comments) says:

    So you leftards when you go to cast that vote remember it was the very highest in Labour who are such control freaks they wanted to regulate your shower.

    That control freakery has not gone away.

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  6. Left Right and Centre (4,397 comments) says:

    The Backbencher till must’ve been ringing more than Chris Cairns’ cellphone.

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  7. kiwi in america (2,687 comments) says:

    And so departs the one Labour MP who could’ve seriously challenged John Key (assuming the party would’ve elected him which, with the new Constitutional changes, was very doubtful). Jones’ departure is a canary in Labour’s politically incompetent coalmine. After my discussions with a Labour activist mate after watching the rugby when I was back at Easter, I realized that Labour are utterly incapable of recognizing how far they have strayed from the broad church Shane described and epitomized. The Key derangement syndrome was immediately evident, the misreading of the political winds (as in claiming the Chch East by-election was a fantastic result for Labour – see my guest post and the naïve hope placed in the ‘lost million voters’ strategy was frankly stunning. Oh and then he told me the winning edge – Cunliffe’s soon to follow amazing policy announcements!

    Shane’s a talented bloke and will do well in whatever endeavour he moves to. Parliament has lost one of its wittiest larrikins!

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  8. mara (1,231 comments) says:

    We pay his wages and perques to be more than just a witty larrikin. Sadly, he wasn’t.

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  9. kiwi in america (2,687 comments) says:

    mara – stop being a tool – you can be an effective MP and minister and still be a witty larrikin. Oh and its perks.

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  10. Tauhei Notts (2,362 comments) says:

    Did I hear correctly that when Shane was the Altar Boy, Hine Harawira tried to nick the Cross.

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  11. big bruv (15,564 comments) says:

    Notice the total lack of support for the current Labour leader and the current Labour caucus in his departing words.

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  12. lazza (612 comments) says:

    When will we see a Maori PM?

    Shane Jones joins a long procession of his predecessors who at the outset showed the right stuff, then, ALL of them fell by the wayside.

    I include here the Derek Foxes of the Maori world, Winston too, JT possibly and what might have been with Shane Taurima?

    What is it about all of these men … who stumble and fall from lofty prospects and dsiplay feet of clay?

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  13. David Garrett (10,985 comments) says:

    Mara: in my view you are right…although from the small sample shown here it appears we are in the minority, with the majority appreciating his “witty larrikinism” and overlooking his many failings.

    I find it interesting – and more than a little amusing – that he invited Sir Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble to be present at his valedictory…one last cocking of the snook at his Labour colleagues perhaps…

    It was also interesting to note his reference to the “shower head debacle” from the 2008 campaign…I recall bringing that up once as an example of the Socialists’ desire to control every aspect of our lives…Jones tried to disguise what I interpreted as his agreeing with me by literally banging his head on his desk…certainly one of parliaments’ characters if not a great deal else…

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  14. Unity (1,473 comments) says:

    I thought Jones’ valedictory speech was hilarious. That’s where he excels – as a character and a very funny one at that. He does have many failings though and that’s why he didn’t make it all the way through to PM. He will be missed by his colleagues I’m sure.

    One sour note though and it is happening more and more it seems. It may have only taken 1.46 minutes but it really annoys me when people speak in Maori when they must be fully aware that the majority won’t understand a word they are saying. I find it extremely rude and very arrogant. It is a complete waste of time and over the heads of the majority. What are they trying to prove? That they can speak Maori? So what? When addressing anyone I would never dream of speaking in a language they didn’t understand. It is the height of rudeness. We need to knock this on the head. In my view the only acceptable place for such behaviour is on a Marae where they can do what they like, how they like and when they like.

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  15. Paulus (3,567 comments) says:


    You make a good point as to whether we will ever see a Maori Prime Minister.
    Of course in 150 years time as we will all be Maori.
    But you will have to define what is a Maori.
    In fact looking at the rapidly changing World we will not have a Prime Minister but an Ayatollah.

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  16. mara (1,231 comments) says:

    kiwi in America. Where did I say that one cannot be an effective MP and a witty larrikin? Also I should have said “perq, short for perquisite. What is a perk? Wakey, wakey dear.

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  17. Richard Hurst (1,228 comments) says:

    Nature abhors a vacuum. Someone will be delegated to be the ‘Shane jones’ filler and he will make soothing noises to industry and rural voters without actually committing to anything while the Labour leadership will carry on aligning Labours policies with the Greens. Oh, and occasionally Cuncliffe will put on a swandri and moleskin pants and talk about the golden days of his youth in Pleasant Point etc.

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  18. OneTrack (4,602 comments) says:

    “Notice the total lack of support for the current Labour leader and the current Labour caucus in his departing words.”

    And they didn’t support him either. Which is why he is leaving.

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  19. Unity (1,473 comments) says:

    I disagree, Paulus, even though your comment about us all being Maori in time was made with tongue in cheek, I’m sure. The opposite will happen. The Maori blood will be so diluted that there won’t be anyone who could call themselves such, even though those with only a thread boast about being a Maori these days. It’s as if being such is special, when it isn’t. They seem to find the biggest percentage of their bloodline irrelevant and ignore their main heritage. I wonder why!!??

    As for us being run by an Ayatollah, many a true word spoken in jest!!

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  20. Left Right and Centre (4,397 comments) says:

    mara – it’s ‘perk’ for a lot of people. A quirk of the extremely rich and sometimes confounding English langauge. Add in global cross-border communication – yeah.

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