Labour now doing the “Have you stopped beating your wife” routine

June 4th, 2014 at 3:11 pm by David Farrar

How pathethic. Select committee scrutiny of estimates is meant to be about spending and performance of government. Instead Trevor Mallard uses it for a smear disguised as a question.

Radio NZ reports:

Labour Party MP Trevor Mallard has offended Education Minister Hekia Parata by asking her if she has ever hit any of her staff.

Mr Mallard asked the question during a select committee hearing at Parliament on Wednesday.

“When was the last time that anyone was hit within your office?”

The minister replied: “Mr Mallard, no one has been hit within my office, or any staff of my office.”

Mr Mallard: “Okay, so you’ve never hit a staff member?”

Ms Parata: “No Mr Mallard, and I take absolute offence at any suggestion that that has occurred.”

Trevor Mallard did not produce any evidence that anyone has been hit, and Ms Parata was clearly upset with the line of questioning.

The Herald reports:

“I can tell you categorically that I have never hit a staff member in my current employ or in my previous employ,” Ms Parata told reporters afterwards

She said she was “aware there has been a rumour but there is no substance to it.”

“I think it is really inappropriate, offensive and inaccurate.”

She said no one had accused her of hitting a staff member and she had never been approached by Ministerial Services – which deals with ministerial staff – about such allegations.

Mr Mallard told reporters after the committee that he believed a former staff member had left the office after being hit on the head.

He said he had heard the allegation indirectly from “a very good source.”

Now recall Trevor Mallard was Labour’s nominee for Speaker of the House. The role which is meant to be beyond reproach and upholding parliamentary standards.  And he’s smearing ministers on the basis of a third hand rumour that has no substance.

This is Labour focused on the big issues. They have no vision for education beyond abolishing national standards and charter schools. Their focus is on petty smears.

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Praise for Metiria

June 10th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Since I blogged on it weekend before last, there has been a lot of comment and criticism on Rachel Smalley of The Nation asking Hekia Parata if she is a bitch to work for, and “How Maori are you?”.  Rachel herself has said she didn’t write the questions, and felt a bit uncomfortable with them. Of course she could have refused and said I’m not going to ask any guest if they are a bitch, unless I can ask male guests if they are a prick.

Anyway Brian Edwards has blogged in defence of Smalley, and Green co-leader Metiria Turei has responded:

I dont believe that the question Rachel Smalley asked of Hekia Parata: “How Maori are you”? was in anyway appropriate. I have a huge amount of respect for Brian Edwards and have read his blog which justifies Rachel’s question on the basis that was relevant to “Parata’s childhood and upbringing in a Maori family and Maori community”; that it produced a revealing and relevant response; that she handled it well and hasn’t complained.

The last three justifications are meaningless. It makes no difference to the appropriateness of the question whether she answered well or not, whether she complained or not. As to whether it was relevant to Parata’s childhood, that issue was canvassed earlier in the interview and could have been discussed more without forcing Hekia to justify her identity.

Thats what I have a problem with: Hekia was required by the question to justify her identity. The criteria Hekia then applied to herself is the criteria Maori have been forced to use to justify ourselves for decades: blood (whakapapa), language and whanau. It is a question based on New Zealand’s assimilationist history, when the degree of a persons “Maoriness” led to more or less entitlement, when being judged as having abandoned our cultural practices and language, we were therefore more like Pakeha and so more acceptable.

It is a grotesque irony that these days Maori are asked that question so that their right to speak on Maori issues can be judged, mostly by Pakeha, as legitimate or not.

I don’t agree with most of the policies Metiria puts forward, but I do respect her for criticising TV3 for the interview, despite the fact the question was to a political rival. It’s nice to put principle ahead of politics.

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Would male MPs get this?

May 27th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Rachel Smalley asked Hekia Parata on The Nation at the weekend “Can you at some times be a bit of a bitch to work for?”

I have no problem with asking the are you difficult to work for question, and in fact thought the interview overall was well done.

However would a male MP be asked a question like that?

Would any male MP be asked “Can you at some times be a bit of a prick to work for?”. If not, why not?

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Press says Parata listened

May 24th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

The proposal that the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, put forward yesterday for changes to five schools in the eastern suburbs is a compromise and will not please everyone.

It does, however, demonstrate that the minister has been prepared, as she promised, to listen to the submissions made to her from the community and to change her mind in some areas. The consultation process will continue – the schools still have 28 days to respond to this interim proposal before Parata will announce a final decision.

I’d say the Government has been very flexible and accommodating with its decisions around Christchurch schools. Around 25% of initial decisions have changed.

It is a pity that this level of consultation was not undertaken before rather than after the appallingly mishandled initial announcement for the reorganisation of Christchurch schools was made last year.

Yep. That poisoned the well. The primary fault lay with the Ministry, but the Minister is responsible and should not have just left it to the Ministry to do.

So far as the eastern suburbs were concerned, Parata originally proposed that five schools – Aranui School, Avondale School, Wainoni School, Chisnallwood Intermediate and Aranui High School – be combined at the Aranui High site to create one school that would take pupils from year 1 to year 13.

The idea was to take account of the fact that many of those schools had facilities and grounds that were damaged and had suffered sharp declines in enrolments that were expected to continue, probably for several years.

Parata’s new proposal is to combine four schools, leaving Chisnallwood Intermediate to continue to operate separately. This compromise, if it goes ahead, will please Chisnallwood, which strongly opposed the original proposal, but will disappoint Avondale, which also did not want to join with the other eastern schools.

It should also please Aranui, Wainoni and Aranui High, since it largely reflects their submission to Parata that they have a similar spirit, were a natural fit and should unite at the Aranui High School site.

Leaving Chisnallwood out of the new proposal makes sense. A very large proportion of its enrolment already comes from outside its zone. If it had been combined with the other schools, most of those pupils would almost certainly not have gone to the new site.

Does seem sensible.

Yesterday’s announcement leaves 17 still to hear final decisions on whether they will merge or close by the end of this month.

After the uproar at the beginning, the ending is much less tumultuous. To some degree, that must be because of the intensive discussions that have taken place in the interim.

If Parata deserved blame for the botchup at the beginning, she deserves some credit for being prepared to listen and if necessary change her proposals since then.

A fair editorial.

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Why we need to improve the school system

March 28th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Sue Fea at Stuff reports:

New Zealand needs to raise the academic achievement of its Maori and Pacific Island students to match those of Pakeha students, Education Minister Hekia Parata said in Queenstown yesterday.

New Zealand had made significant gains, now ranked seventh internationally in Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) reading and literacy proficiency levels.

However, while Pakeha were ranked second in the world, Maori were 34th equal and Pacific students were ranked 44th, Ms Parata said.

As has been said before, our averages are good, but our tail is unacceptably low.

The Government was aiming to get 85 per cent of primary and intermediate school students at, or above, the national standards by 2017.

At the moment 76 per cent of children reached or exceeded the national standard for reading, 72 per cent of learners for mathematics, and 68 per cent for writing.

While some parties think the best way to lift achievement is not to monitor student achievement at all!

Ms Parata said she had told various iwi groups, “good on you, guys” for coming to Wellington to talk about land issues and fisheries, but invited them to come to talk about the education of their children or stay in their area and help support them in the education opportunities available.

“I say the same to Pacific churches and they are all responding.

Maybe we’ll see some Iwi invest in a charter school or two!

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Labour even complains about new schools!

March 10th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Newstalk ZB reports:

Two new schools are to be built in north east Hamilton, but the plans are not without controversy.

Minister of Education Hekia Parata has announced a primary school will be built in Flagstaff by 2015, and a secondary school by 2016.

Labour MP Sue Moroney says locals have been calling for a secondary school for five years, but the primary is not seen as such a priority.

“The proposal for a new primary school? Well that’s come out of left field, or right field as it might be.

“It’s not the priority. The community is very clear about its priorities, they want the secondary school in place.”

Hekia Parata says the evidence shows the primary school will be needed first in the area, which is growing rapidly.

Just because you are in opposition doesn’t mean you need to oppose everything the Government announces. Criticising the Government for spending $10 million on a new primary school for Hamilton is not likely to help you win the seat.

There are projected to be an extra 600 primary age students in North-East Hamilton by 2016.

The new secondary school will be the first new one in 40 years I believe. It reflects how strong the population growth there is.

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Collective responsibility

February 25th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

Education Minister Hekia Parata recommended that Wanganui Collegiate should not be integrated into the state system, but she was rolled by her Cabinet colleagues.

If integration had not gone ahead, the private school would have closed last year, documents obtained under the Official Information Act show.

Instead, it will now receive $3.1 million a year from the taxpayer, despite an oversupply of 1400 places in the state school system in the region.

The documents show that, on October 29 last year, Ms Parata recommended to the Cabinet that ministers reject the integration move and take no further action.

However, a second paper two days later shows her recommendation was overruled.

“Following discussion on your proposal, and having taken account of all the information before it, Cabinet subsequently noted the following decision: ‘That the Minister of Education intends to agree to the integration of Wanganui Collegiate School into the state network of schools at an estimated cost of $3.1 million per annum . . .”

This is not entirely uncommon, and is sometimes the life of being a Minister. You’ll recommend one thing to Cabinet, they’ll vote for something else, and as Minister you have to go up and front a decision that you disagree with.

Personally I have no problem with the decision as if Collegiate had closed, then the taxpayer would be having to fund their current pupils in state schools, so saying no would not have saved taxpayers money. That means that if the issue is no longer fiscal, then it should be about quality of education.

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Christchurch Schools details

February 18th, 2013 at 12:22 pm by David Farrar

The details are all on the dedicated website. A summary:

  • Only 19 out of 215 schools in Canterbury are affected, representing around 5% of Canterbury pupils
  • 12 schools that were proposed for closure or merging will now remain as they are.  They are Bromley, Burnham, Burnside, Duvauchelle, Gilberthorpe, Linwood Avenue, Okains Bay, Ouruhia Model, Shirley Intermediate, and Yaldhurst schools, and the two kura – TKKM o Waitaha and TKKM o Te Whānau Tahi
  • Seven schools are proposed to close
  • 12 schools are proposed to merge into six schools
  • Five schools in Aranui are proposed to merge into one Year 1 to 13 campus but this is still being consulted on
  • Two schools have closed voluntarily
  • Two schools are being rebuilt on their existing sites
  • Five brand-new schools are being built
  • Eight schools are being rebuilt on new sites
  • Further consultation on interim decisions has been extended to 31 March 2013

It will be a hard day for the pupils, teachers, staff and parents of the 19 schools that face closure or change. My thoughts are with them. Also with those who will now not be impacted and will be very relieved and can focus on the future of their schools.

 

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Peter Hughes appointed Acting Secretary of Education

December 19th, 2012 at 12:56 pm by David Farrar

The State Services Commissioner has announced:

The State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie, today announced that he has accepted the resignation of the Secretary for Education and Chief Executive Ms Lesley Longstone.

Mr Rennie said that the last six months have been especially challenging for the Ministry of Education.  Despite the best efforts of the Chief Executive to work through a number of issues, there now needs to be a focus on re-building the critical relationships that have been strained.

Following very careful thought and discussion, Lesley and I have decided that the best interests of the Ministry would be served by her stepping down and the appointment of a new Chief Executive, Mr Rennie said. …

Mr Rennie said he was grateful to Victoria University of Wellington for supporting the secondment of former Public Service chief executive Peter Hughes as the Acting Chief Executive and Secretary for Education. Peter Hughes will take up his role from 9 February 2013. The State Services Commission will advertise for the permanent role in the New Year.

This has the potential to make a significant difference. Peter Hughes is the former CE of MSD and despite the huge complexities of that ministry, was twice judged top performing public sector CE by the Trans-Tasman panel.

By contrast, the Ministry of Education has consistently come near the bottom of the ratings for the 40 or so core public sector agencies. This has always been a huge concern when you consider the importance of education to New Zealand.

The departure of Longstone and appointment (for now) of Hughes, is an opportunity to change things for the better. I look at what I regard as the three main educational stuff ups of the year. They were:

  1. The Budget announcement on increased class sizes in return for improved teacher quality
  2. The Christchurch schools restructuring
  3. The Novopay performance

The 1st issue was a political failure. The Government failed to define what they would do to improve teacher quality, and hence it was like asking for a blank cheque. The policy could have worked if the work had been done on what precisely would be done to improve teacher quality – then people may accept the trade off. The responsibility for that one rests with the Minister, but to be fair to Hekia the decision was a collective one by Cabinet – not hers alone.

The 2nd and 3rd issues were primarily operational failures by the Ministry. The Minister is accountable for their performance, but not directly responsible. In this case, seeing the departure of the CE, and a very competent (temporary) replacement announced is exactly what should happen for such operational failings.

Hughes has a huge task ahead of him, to make changes to the Ministry. There are many good people there, but the structure and culture as a whole are not currently up to the job.

Enemies of the current Government will claim that everything that has happened has been the Minister’s fault. As I have said, she is accountable and there has been political failures also. But to be honest if you really care about improving the NZ education system, you’d be welcoming the appointment of someone like Peter Hughes to be Acting Secretary of Education.

The facts Hughes has agreed to take the role on, is very significant also. He had left the public sector. He would not take on the role unless he had confidence both in the Minister, and in his ability to work with her to make change for the better. He pretty much could have had his choice of any public sector job he wanted when he left MSD.

I look forward to seeing how 2013 goes for Education. It could be very different to 2012.

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Pathetic claims over a second cousin

October 10th, 2012 at 11:55 am by David Farrar

I’m sorry, but how is this even news? Stuff reports:

A new Christchurch school, which will be run by a relative of Education Minister Hekia Parata, is waiting on government approval.

The school, Te Pa O Rakaihautu, was endorsed by the ministry just weeks before work began on the overhaul of the city’s education in October last year.

It is understood the final application is lodged and awaiting approval. Te Pa is chaired by Parata’s second cousin, Rangimarie Parata Takurua, sparking accusations from Labour of a conflict of interest.

I know it is the opposition’s job to try and invent scandals, but this one is pathetic.

A second cousin?

Can anyone out there tell me they seriously think a second cousin is a conflict? How about third or fourth? I’m not sure even a first cousin would be. Hell, I haven’t even met all my second cousins.

It will be a character school, which is similar to a charter school. Both are state-funded and have the power to develop their own way of teaching.

Te Pa was endorsed in September last year by former education minister Anne Tolley before Parata took over the education portfolio after the November general election.

So what is the issue, and why is this even worth the space?

Labour associate education spokesman Chris Hipkins said there was a clear conflict of interest that should have been revealed.

He said the ministry was working to “clear the decks” for privately run schools.

This is a public school! The Labour paranoia against the private sector is infectious.

 

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Hekia’s Downfall

June 9th, 2012 at 10:16 pm by David Farrar

Never let it be said the right can’t laugh at themselves. Note I had no input into the script!

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A stupid article

May 19th, 2012 at 5:19 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Education Minister Hekia Parata is refusing to say how much top teachers will earn under a performance pay scheme or where the funding for extra pay will come from.

How dare the Minister keep secret these key details of the performance pay scheme approved by the Government.

Oh wait …. there is no actual scheme approved, so no details to be released. Oh that means the entire story is absolute nonsense. Damn.

In a pre-Budget speech in which she announced $511.9 million of extra education spending over fours years, Ms Parata said performance pay was among the options being considered as part of an appraisal system to boost quality teaching.

So the article even notes that a performance pay system was merely an option, and not in any way decided upon. Yet the article is all about the Minister keeping the details secret!

 

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PPTA supports Parata

April 24th, 2012 at 3:37 pm by David Farrar

The PPTA have praised Hekia Parata:

PPTA president Robin Duff congratulates education minister Hekia Parata for taking a firm stand against the board of Northland’s Moerewa School .

The board was sacked yesterday after extending classes to years 11 and 13 without the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) permission, with seriously questionable results.

“Primary schools may have the best of intentions, but it is wrong for them to believe they can adequately provide specialist subject delivery to students over year 9,” Duff said.

However the Principals Federation thinks the school should be above the law:

“The decision to sack the Board of Trustees at Moerewa School is a sad day for self-managing schools and their communities,” said Phil Harding, Vice-President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation.

“Moerewa is a tiny community, working with its people to do all in its power to provide high standards of education, while achieving success as Maori,” said Harding. “Rather than being celebrated for its efforts and excellent ERO reports, the Moerewa School Board has been punished, and its senior students excluded from their school of choice,” he said. …

“Few schools would come through an NZQA audit of 84% of their students’ work unscathed, and the protracted process has kept these students in limbo,” he said. “The Ministry has funded the unit for three years, and it is tragic to see a positive innovation ended in this way.”

It may be sad it has ended, but the fault is with the school. It is a pity the NZPF defends a school with such a low achievement rate. Radio NZ reported:

The Education Ministry says the school is not offering senior students a quality education and its NCEA results are alarmingly low. An audit by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority found that 11% to 33% were passing NCEA.

“If you look at the nearest school, they are achieving results twice as high for their Maori students than have been achieved at Moerewa. The outcomes are just not good enough, I’m afraid.”

TVNZ reported:

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) audited students’ work and said it had concerns about Wikipedia being used word-for-word and work being submitted with two different types of handwriting.

Radio Waatea reports:

The Education Minister says the audit of Moerewa School’s NCEA results was launched after discrepancies picked up in a review of paperwork at Otara’s Kia Aroha College.

 Moerewa held on to its senior pupils by enrolling them in the South Auckland Secondary School run by the mother of Principal Keri Milne-Ihimaera.

 Hekia Parata says rather than scoring better than most other schools, outside assessors found just two out 16 students passed NCEA level one, two in six passed levels two and two in three passed level three.

Only 12% passed NCEA Level one. Incredible.

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Labour attacks a public servant for her sister

February 26th, 2012 at 2:27 pm by David Farrar

Kate Shuttleworth at the HoS reports:

Minister of Education Hekia Parata’s sister Apryll Parata has been given one of the ministry’s top jobs. …

Labour spokesperson for education Nanaia Mahuta said there was a concern Apryll Parata’s promotion came so quickly after her sister was appointed minister.

“There is a perceived conflict of interest. People will draw all sorts of conclusions given the proximity of the appointment.”

They hounded Madeleine Setchell out of the public service because of her boyfriend’s new job, and now they target Ms Parata because of her sister.

Many top public servants have had siblings in politics. Mark Prebble had roles in DPMC, SSC and Treasury and his brother was Richard Prebble. Should he have not been promoted because of Richard?

Apryll Parata is one of seven Deputy Secretaries and has been a Deputy Secretary since February 2007. Her recent promotion is not of title, but of responsibilities. Parata was also the youngest ever female principal of a state secondary school. One bio states:

Apryll Parata arrived at Ngata Memorial College after the school’s roll had dropped to 72 students. Truancy was rampant, and the professional standards of teaching and management had been neglected for years. In the five years that she was principal, the roll more than trebled, truancy was nonexistent, and academic qualifications were lifted  significantly. The college moved from an academic achievement rating in the bottom five percent of the country’s secondary schools to the top of schools of its type in three years.

Yet Labour attack her having the wrong sister.

Green spokesperson for education Catherine Delahunty said Apryll Parata had been involved in education for a long time.

“It’s not someone who is coming in from the outside with no knowledge. It does become interesting when it’s two sisters running the Ministry of Education because it does sound to the public like it puts power in the hands of one family.”

She said her main concern was about the direction the ministry was taking, not the personnel.

Bravo the Greens. Delahunty resists the cheap shot.

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A schools database

February 2nd, 2012 at 9:50 am by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

The Government appears set on publishing primary school performance data, criticised by a teacher union as “junk information”.

Education Minister Hekia Parata yesterday said she would consider setting up a website similar to the MySchool resource that operates in Australia.

The Australian example “deals with a number of the concerns that have been rumoured” about the risks of league tables, Ms Parata said.

Comparisons between schools on MySchool were only between “statistically similar schools,” giving a fairer picture of performance.

“I think that parents vest a lot of trust in the principals and teachers of the education sector – and so they should – and that trust should be returned by letting parents know accurate information about what’s happening,” she said.

I think it is far better to have a database which allows parents to do “smart” comparisons, such as between schools with the same decile rankings, rather than just leave it to the media to compile their own tables.

The solution to bad data is good data – not banning the publication of data.

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Hon Hekia Parata

December 6th, 2010 at 4:08 pm by David Farrar

John Key has announced:

Prime Minister John Key today announced that Hekia Parata is to be appointed a Minister in Cabinet.

“Ms Parata takes over the Ethnic Affairs and Women’s Affairs portfolios previously held by Pansy Wong. She will also be Associate Minister for ACC, of Energy and Resources and for the Community and Voluntary Sector,” Mr Key says.

Ms Parata’s role as Associate Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector follows discussions with Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Tariana Turia, who requested an associate in this portfolio. It is no longer considered necessary to have an associate in Mrs Turia’s Disability Issues portfolio.

Ms Parata will be sworn in on Wednesday afternoon by Her Excellency the Administrator of the Government.

“Ms Parata has a strong background in the public service and has also been a successful businesswoman.

A well deserved promotion, and I predict Hekia will shine as a Minister.

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Will it be the Hon Hekia Parata?

November 22nd, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young writes at the Herald:

The strong performance of National candidate Hekia Parata in the Mana byelection has boosted her chances of being promoted this week.

It certainly has not harmed it. And the fact the PM did not announced last week the new Minister night suggest he was waiting to see how Mana went.

Ms Parata, a former public policy and Treaty of Waitangi consultant, not only slashed Labour’s majority, but performed well under pressure and ran a strong team.

Counting against her is that she is a first-term MP. Her promotion ahead of the class of 2005 could put some noses out of joint.

The leading contenders in that pack are Craig Foss, the MP for Tukituki and chairman of the finance and expenditure select committee, and Chris Tremain, MP for Napier and the chief Government whip.

I think both Craig and Chris know that their ascension is a matter of when, not if, which would help molify them if Hekia jumps ahead of then. But having said that, 2010 is far preferable to 2012 in terms of ascension.

What may count against them this time is that if they are promoted, then there has to be a minor reshuffle. While Hekia can slip in and take over Pansy’s portfolios directly.

Selwyn MP Amy Adams, in the same cohort as Ms Parata, is also tipped for future promotion in a commerce or economic role.

Or Agriculture. Or Justice. Amy is multi-talented :-)

Mr Key could save a little money by appointing no one to the Cabinet and appointing another minister outside the Cabinet. He could make an even bigger saving by appointing no one at all and upsetting no one.

This is the only error in Audrey’s article. If the PM makes no appointment at all, this will in fact upset every single Backbencher. Reducing the size of the Ministry means more people competing for fewer places. A smaller Ministry is regarded by backbenchers with the same loathing as teacher unions performance pay.

Personally an Executive of 28 is larger than we need. However the time for change would have been when first forming the Government, rather than doing it by attrition.

But that would suggest Mrs Wong’s role was surplus to requirements in the first place.

Well …..

Mr Key is not seen as a slave to “political correctness”; he is not oblivious to gender and identity issues in National’s line-up either.

It is a factor, but not the sole or even the dominant factor.

The importance of the Mana byelection is that a promotion would be seen on the basis of talent, not tokenism

Yes, a promotion would be seen as gained on the basis of performance.

Making one appointment outside of the Cabinet to take over Mrs Wong’s two portfolios makes most sense, and of the contenders, Ms Parata’s sphere of interest is best suited to the vacancies.

We may find out later today who it is.

Talking of Mana, kudos must go to Phil Quinn who predicted a Faafoi win by just 1,000 votes.

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A gracious victor

November 21st, 2010 at 9:40 pm by David Farrar

On tonight’s One News:

She’s trying to make herself feel better. She lost, and this is the second time the people of Mana didn’t want her.

That was Kris Faafoi talking about Hekia Parata.

Such a gracious victor.

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The Mana result

November 21st, 2010 at 11:05 am by David Farrar

Labour came far too close to doing something that has never ever happened before in recent New Zealand electoral history – having an Opposition lose a seat in a by-election. No Government has won a seat off the opposition in the 59 by-elections since 1936.

And even worse it was not a marginal seat – it was a safe seat that has been held by Labour since 1938 (in that its predecessor seats were also Labour).

I was hoping the majority would be below 3,000 – my pick had been 2,500. I never thought it would almost drop to a triple figures and get as low as 1,080. In some ways it was the ideal result. If the margin had been 500 or so, then you’d be kicking yourself for not doing that extra bit to win it. And if Labour had actually managed to lose the seat, then Goff would be goneburger, and National doesn’t actually want Goff rolled.

So what happened? Well as I blogged during the week, I didn’t expect there to be a uniform swing – I expected different swings in different areas. I’ve divided the seat up into four areas – Porirua East, Porirua West, Northern Suburbs and Kapiti.

Porirua East

In 2008 Laban got 82% and Parata 9%. There was basically no swing here at all with 2010 as Faafoi got 82% and Parata 11%. The total vote was 72% of 2008, and McCarten got 4% here.

This shows how hard it is to win Mana, when one large portion of the electorate votes Labour 9:1 over National. Even if the rest of the electorate votes 3:2 National over Labour, it is hard to compensate for such areas.

Porirua West

In 2008 Laban got 59% and Parata 28% so still very much core Labour areas. There was a good swing here as in 2010 Faafoi got 51% and Parata 35%, so the margin dropped from 31% to 16%. The total vote was 66% of 2008, and McCarten got 6% here.

I had been expected Porirua West to be like Porirua East, and not swing much. But in some booths in Titahi Bay Hekia lifted her vote share by 9% and Faafoi lost 15%.

Northern Suburbs

These areas are pretty solid Nat, In 2008 Laban got 35% and Parata 54%. That was good enough, but there was a massive swing here as in 2010 Faafoi got 25% and Parata 67%, so the margin grew from 19% to 42%. The total vote was 74% of 2008, and McCarten got 2% here.

Kapiti

The Kapiti area voted Labour last time, and flipped to National this time. And what is more extraordinary about this is it happened despite noisy local opposition to a new expressway.

In 2008 Laban got 46% and Parata 41%. There was a big swing here as in 2010 Faafoi got 37% and Parata 47%, so the margin went from +5% to Labour to +10% for National – a 15% net movement. The total vote was 69% of 2008, and McCarten got 3% here.

Polling Places

In 17/42 polling places the vote share for Labour dropped by 10% or greater. That is huge.

Interestingly the advance votes actually had Faafoi getting a bigger vote share than Laban did in 2008. This reflects my view that Hekia got real momentum in the final week as several community leaders endorsed her, but by then many advance votes had already been cast.

CR v CL

Matt McCarten didn’t achieve a great result (but he did get lots of signatures for his petitions) and the Greens had a solid third. ACT was battling it out with Legalise Cannabis for 5th place. What was the total CR and CL vote in 2008 and 2010?

In 2008 Labour & Greens got 60% of the electorate vote, and National/ACT got 37%. In 2010 Labour/Greens/McCarten got 57% and National/ACT got 42%. So even taking the minor parties into account, you had the centre-right close the gap by 8% in Mana!

Historical Comparisons

Labour did manage to retain the seat, but they had a massive swing against their candidate. Again, this is historically very rare in by-elections. I’ve gone through the last few by-elections to note what happened:

  • 2010 Mt Albert – remained safe for Opposition
  • 2004 Te Tai Hauauru – not contested by major parties
  • 1998 TKC – big swing against Government
  • 1994 Selwyn – big swing against Government
  • 1993 Tauranga – not contested by major parties
  • 1992 Wellington Central – was marginal Labour and majority increases slightly for Opposition
  • 1992 Tamaki – big swing against Government
  • 1985 Timaru – falls to Opposition
  • 1980 East Coast Bays – falls to Opposition (Social Credit)
  • 1980 Onehunga – Opposition holds comfortably
  • 1980 Northern Maori – stays with Labour
  • 1979 Christchurch Central – Government comes 3rd
  • 1978 Rangitikei – Government loses to Opposition (Social Credit)
  • 1976 Nelson – Opposition increases majority
  • 1977 Mangere – Opposition holds comfortably
  • 1977 Pahiatua – Government holds

So this has not happened in the last 35 years – an Opposition almost losing a safe seat in a by-election.

The closest we have is 1992 Wellington Central, and they have a number of things in common

  • Both held in the first term of a new National Government
  • Both held two years into that term
  • Both had popular retiring MPs (Wilde and Laban)
  • Both had Labour put up a candidate with no background in the party (Laidlaw and Faafoi)
  • Both had a high profile third party candidate on the left (Denis Welch and McCarten)
  • Both times the National candidate was married to Wira Gardiner (Pauline Gardiner and Hekia Parata)
  • Both times the National candidate had stood in the previous general election
  • Both times Labour got a narrow victory on the by-election

The really interesting thing is that in the 1993 general election, Laidlaw lost the seat to Gardiner – it was the only seat lost by the Opposition in that election.

Kris has won the seat, but it is now a marginal seat, and he is going to have to work very very hard in the community to match Hekia and retain the seat in 2011.

UPDATE:

A reader sent me this graph, of the ten largest polling places in Mana. It tells a big story about how Cannons Creek saved Labour.

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Goff lowering expectations for Mana

November 15th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

Labour leader Phil Goff has admitted National’s Hekia Parata could win the Mana by-election if turnout is low.

His press secretary, Kris Faafoi, is standing for the seat, traditionally seen as a Labour stronghold. But yesterday Mr Goff said a low turnout would “jeopardise Labour’s hold on the seat”.

Goff is trying to do two things here. The first is to motivate Labour supporters to turn out and vote. He is right – turnout is important.

The second is he is trying to make the seat sound marginal, so that if Labour’s majority is slashed, it does not reflect so badly on them.

Mana is one of their safest seats. It (and its predecessors) have never been held by National. Mana has a larger majority than Lianne Dalziel in Christchurch East, Trevor Mallard in Hutt South and Jim Anderton in Wigram.

A few people point to the party vote margin at 2,500 and say this means it is not safe for Labour. But they make a fatal mistake. The releveant comparison with the party vote is between right and left, as both right and left voters will vote tactically on the electorate candidate (many green voters vote for a labour candidate and many ACT voters vote for a National candidate).

So what was the party vote for the right in 2008 in Mana? 39%. And the left vote? 53%.

In the median electorates, the right is 8% ahead of the left on the 2008 party vote. In Mana the right is 14% behind the left on the party vote.

Now this does not mean Hekia can not win. She has been winning endorsements from some non traditional National voters. Even Willie Jackson and John Tamihere have come out and said people should vote for her or Matt McCarten (partly because they fronted up onto their radio show).

But the reality is that no Government has ever won a seat off an Opposition in a by-election. I’ve checked back over 90 years. If Hekia wins, or even comes close, it will be a seismic event.

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Endorsements for Parata

November 13th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

On The Nation this morning they reported that there is a real split in the Pacific Island vote in Mana, which has traditionally been very strong Labour. They interviewed Liz Tanielu the head of the Teaaomanino Trust which is the biggest pacific island service provider in the region. She says she traditionally votes Labour but that Faafoi is an outsider, and she is angry they could not find a single local to stand, while Hekia has been active for some years in the electorate and “walks the talk”, and that the by-election should not be a party vote but a vote on who will be the best MP.

Then they had on Api Malu, who was representing 40 pacific island church ministers. He says they are looking for people who have worked with them, and that Hekia Parata has impressed a lot of people, and the leadership with what she has done.

Also on the show, Tariana Turia endorsed both Hekia Parata and Matt McCarten as candidates who would make effective MP for Mana.

By coincidence in the Dom Post this morning, Porirua Deputy Mayor Liz Kelly also endorsed Hekia:

Porirua Deputy Mayor Liz Kelly has backed National Party candidate Hekia Parata to win the Mana by-election.

Her prediction will cause ripples as Labour’s Kris Faafoi has been favoured to take the seat, which is viewed as one of Labour’s safest. The party has always polled strongly in the Pacific Island and Maori communities.

Local leaders suggested yesterday that Mr Faafoi’s lack of experience is seen as a drawback.

Ms Kelly, an independent councillor, said Ms Parata’s work in the electorate had not gone unnoticed. “The feedback I’m getting is that Hekia is very popular … There is a lot of support because she’s been working the whole time.”

Mr Faafoi was a “nice guy” but “there’s no history” with the electorate and some voters resented that.

And a local community leader:

Samoan community leader Paula Masoe said Ms Parata had won over a lot of Pasifika supporters. “She’s a hard worker and we respect people who work hard for our community. I’m really happy that someone like Kris put their hand up. But it’s not time for him yet. I don’t want the sweat of our people to be put on someone who’s not ready yet.” …

Experience was valued in the Pacific Island community, she said. “It’s not about having someone who is Pacific Island there, you’ve got to have somebody who is able to carry the huge responsibility and he probably will. But not yet.”

There was a “strong feeling” among local voters that Mr Faafoi was imposed on the community by the parliamentary Labour Party.

“Labour needs to look at themselves because we don’t want to be treated like the poor relations. When they look at putting someone in to speak up for us I’d like to think that they’ve considered a whole lot of other people of our community that have been involved in Labour.

And also in the Dom Post, Chris Trotter effectively endorses Matt McCarten in his weekly column:

I asked Matt if he’d heard of Slavoj Zizek – the Slovenian socialist currently setting the cat of principle among the fat, pragmatic pigeons of the European Left.

“I’m busy, Chris,” he chuckled, “of course I haven’t.” “Well, Matt”, I replied, “Zizek is challenging Europe’s social democrats to stop looking over their shoulder at the European Central Bank; to govern “as if they were free”.

“Maybe that’s what you should ask the Mana electors, Matt. To stop looking over their shoulder at Labour. Could be your slogan: ‘Vote – as if you were free’.”

And in the NZ Herald, Audrey Young says Parata should be promoted to the Ministry:

Pansy Wong’s resignation from the Cabinet a week before the Mana byelection presents Prime Minister John Key with a golden opportunity.

He has the chance to add fresh blood to his ministry without the usual resentments around reshuffles and a chance to show Mana the calibre of National’s Hekia Parata. …

promoting Parata before a byelection – even to a minister outside Cabinet – would tell the Mana electorate something of the calibre of the National candidate.

It is clear that some traditional Pacific Island Labour voters are saying they people should vote for the best MP, not for the party. They are right – this is how MMP works.

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Another Labour MP criticises Hekia for not campaigning on taxpayer time

November 10th, 2010 at 3:14 pm by David Farrar

I previously blogged on how Trevor Mallard criticised Hekia Parata for attending select committees instead of campaigning for votes in Mana.

Now Clare Curran has done the same, and criticised Hekia for attending question time.

Hekia is campaigning non stop whenever she is not required to be at Parliament. But I for one think it is a good thing she actually is also doing the job she is getting paid an MPs salary to do, even if Labour think campaigning is more important.

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McCarten for Mana

October 27th, 2010 at 12:53 pm by David Farrar

So Matt McCarten is standing as a UNITE backed Indpendent for Mana. What does this mean for the by-election?

The only certainty is that it means it will be a lot more interesting and even exciting, and will have more media coverage of it. Beyond that, it depends on a few things.

Most would conclude it is a slap in the face for Phil Goff and Kriss Faafoi. Rather ironic to have the candidate who won thanks to the union block votes, to now face a candidate from another union.

Does it mean Labour could lose the seat? To be honest, at this stage no one knows. It is safe to say that Matt is unlikely to pick up many votes from Hekia, so that helps National and Hekia.

What we don’t know is whether he will get 500 votes or 5,000 votes. That may depend on what issues he campaigns on.

It is even possible this could help Faafoi and Labour. A battle on the left could get more left wing voters voting. And if Labour are tactically cunning, they could try and position themselves as the moderate party between National and McCarten.

So this announcement is a slap in the face for Labour, and no one in Labour will be happy with McCarten’s candidacy. But that does not mean this has suddenly become a three-horse race, or that it is suddenly a marginal seat. Mana is very tribal Labour and UNITE has fewer activists on the ground here than in Auckland.

As I said, the only guarantee is things will now be more exciting. I wasn’t planning to attend any of the Meet The Candidates meetings, but now I might just go along to see what stunts Matt gets up to with chicken suits and the like.

UPDATE: The Electoral Commission has announced eight candidates for Mana. They are:

Kelly Buchanan Alliance
Julian Crawford Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
Colin Du Plessis Act
Kris Faafoi Labour Party
Sean Fitzpatrick Libertarianz
Jan Logie Green Party
Matt McCarten Independent
Hekia Parata National Party

Nice name for the Libertarianz candidate!

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The battle for Mana

October 9th, 2010 at 2:41 pm by David Farrar

The Dominion Post has done a profile of the candidates for Mana, and also an article about the race to win, which includes quite a few comments from me. I thought I would use the blog to expand on my printed remarks and out a bit of context around.

First if all, I have consistently said that the chances of a National win are low (but not of course non existent). I say this for two historical reasons:

  1. This particular seat, and its predecessors, have never been won by National. Now that is not a guarantee – Nikki Kaye broke a 95 year old lock Labour had on Auckland Central. But it is a seat which is consistently Labour.
  2. No Government has won a seat off the Opposition in a by-election for at least 80 years – if not for ever. I’ve checked back to the 1930s.

The article quotes me:

He said the Government’s popularity meant there was little impetus to vote. Mana is a Labour safe seat. “Is there an incentive to give a government that already has a majority an extra seat?

This is why I think no Government has even won a seat off the Opposition – because they don’t actually need it. If people want to change the party that represents them locally, they tend to do it to send a message they are unhappy to the Government. It is harder to motivate people to vote to send out a message they are happy, and like the Government.

Now again this is not to say it isn’t possible, but that the incentives are harder for the Government than they are the Opposition.

The way for National to win, or at least reduce the majority, is not to only frame it as give National an extra seat because John Key is a good PM. The message needs to also be about who will be the best local MP for Mana.

“Hekia will pull `I will be a better MP’. People who have met Hekia and like her, could well respond. But you don’t get to meet the entire electorate.

The context of this is that when people meet Hekia, they are normally very impressed with her, and the more people she meets the more votes she will get. I think her career and background make her a considerably stronger candidate and MP than Kris. That is not to say that Kris won’t make a fine contribution if given the chance – but Hekia has a very formidable record of achievement, and a strength of character which I believe will see her become a Minister in the next term.

But the reality is it is very hard to meet every voter, or even half of them. And those who don’t meet Hekia, will then be faced with the question “Why do we vote to give the Government an extra seat”. That is the difficult part.

John Key’s smile only goes so far.

I really must restrain my sense of humour. This was short-hand for the PM is a popular Prime Minister, but being popular doesn’t necessarily mean voters will want to take a seat off the Opposition and give it to the Government as a thank you note.

So yes the chances of National achieving two historic firsts – winning Mana and a Government gaining a seat off the Opposition in a by-election is remote. But it is not nil, and the way to improve the odds is to have as many voters as possible meet Hekia and decide they want her as their local MP. She would be an outstanding electorate MP if given the chance.

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Trevor complains Hekia not ditching parliamentary duties for campaigning

October 6th, 2010 at 4:55 pm by David Farrar

If we ever wanted a priceless example of how Labour regard taxpayers and Parliament, it is this blog post from Trevor Mallard:

She is a member of the Electoral Legislation Committee. It sat from 10am to 4pm today with a 45 minute lunch break.  Anyone who was outside Room 3 Parliament House would have seen her going into the room and coming out with other members of the committee.

Asked Nats why she wasn’t working on her campaign.

” No one would replace her.”

“Slack discipline.”

Don’t think they believe they have a chance – but they didn’t  need to throw in the towel so early.

So just think about this. Hekia is paid by the taxpayers to be a Member of Parliament. Her role as a by-election candidate is supplemental to that – ie to be done when not conflicting with parliamentary duties.

But Trevor wonderfully shows us what Labour thinks of that notion – scorn and derision.

Now everyone knows that Mana is not marginal. For National to win would require two unique firsts – a Government to win a seat off the Opposition in a by-election and for Mana to vote National. But having said that, Hekia is working very hard on the campaign. But unlike Trevor I don’t think that means she should never turn up to the House and not turn up to select committees.

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