Maori Party leadership

December 3rd, 2011 at 8:53 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Internal power struggles are plaguing the Maori Party as it tries to finalise a coalition deal with National.

Party whip Te Ururoa Flavell is likely to take over the co-leadership from Pita Sharples in a special meeting in two weeks.

Having Flavell take over sooner rather than later makes sense as he will need time to build up profile.

What I find interesting is that Stuff has characterised this as an “internal power struggle” yet provided nothing to back up this assertion. My reading of the situation is that this is being done with the support of all Maori Party MPs, but I could be wrong. However nothing in the Stuff article talks about this being a hostile move against Sharples, so my suspicion is the opening sentence is sensationalism. If it is not, then it would be good to have more details.

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Maori Party

November 29th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

MPs in

None

MPs out

Rahui Katene (Te Tai Tonga)

Result

4.5/10.

Losing Te Tai Tonga is a blow. Not only does it mean they now only represent a minority of the Maori seats, it also means that they do not hold the balance of power if National loses a seat on specials. Their ability to get policy gains is diminished.

On the plus side, they held off strong challenges from Labour’s Shane Jones in Tamaki Makaurau and Mana’s Annette Sykes in Waiariki. Losing either of those seats would have been fatal.

Challenges

The immediate challenge is policy gains from National. As National can govern without them, these will be limited. Most of the “easy” gains were got last time.

The next challenge will be identifying successor to Sharples and Turia. Flavell will become a co-leader, but they will need a candidate who can retain Tamaki Makaurau also.

There is now a three way contest in each of the Maori seats with Labour, Maori and Mana. Their dreams of holding all seven Maori seats will never occur. It is difficult to see how they can increase their number of seats in the future unless there is some rapprochement with Mana.

The constitutional review is the big wild card. If they can get something substantial from that, such as Iwi observer rights on all local authorities, then that could give their supporters something to campaign on.

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Marae Investigates – Marae Digipoll 2 October 2011

September 30th, 2011 at 12:14 am by Kokila Patel

MARAE INVESTIGATES
RELEASE ‘MARAE DIGIPOLL’

10-11am this Sunday, 2nd October on TV

What impact has the arrival of the Mana Party had on Maori voters?

That’s one of the questions raised in a new Digipoll to be released on TV ONE’s Marae Investigates this Sunday.

With the General Election eight weeks away, the results provide a fascinating insight into how support for the Maori and Labour parties has been affected by the Mana Party.

Marae Investigates also has an exclusive interview with the whanau of Maori Wallaby, Quade Cooper.
Quade’s Brisbane based mum, Ruhia Jones gives a candid view of her son’s rise to fame and her unconditional support for him in the face of Kiwi animosity.

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The difference between Maori and Mana parties

July 11th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Yvette pointed this out:

Sharples or Brash “You once again bring the Maori people’s aspirations into contempt and ridicule. Your views are not only inaccurate and ill-founded, but are totally out of tune with middle New Zealand’s ideals and aspirations for our country.”

Harawira on Brash “Your attempts to boost Act in the polls by riding on the xenophobic fears of Joe Bloggs in the street will not work this time round.”

I thought that was a great contrast. The Maori Party believe the “average” New Zealander shares their aspirations for Maori, while the Mana Party believes the average New Zealander is racist.

I think that difference in world view goes to the heart of why Hone left the Maori Party.

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No Maori-Mana deal

July 11th, 2011 at 9:03 am by David Farrar

Danya Levy at Stuff reports:

The Maori Party has rejected a proposed deal by the newly-formed Mana Party not to stand against each other in the Maori electorates at this year’s general election. …

The issue was discussed by the Maori Party’s national council in Huntly at the weekend. It later issued a statement saying “no deal”.

President Pem Bird said there was a strong message from the party’s membership that it should remain loyal to the people of Tai Tokerau by continuing to build its presence in the electorate.

“We had a large contingent from Te Tai Tokerau with us at the hui… Our brothers and sisters of Te Tai Tokerau led us to an emphatic conclusion that we would not sacrifice their seat for what might be seen as political opportunism and expediency.

“Basically the message we received loud and clear, was no deal.”

A principled but naive decision. Labour’s chances of winning Te Tai Tonga and Tamaki Makauru off the Maori Party have to be improved if the Mana Party stands in those seats.

There is a risk that the Maori Party could be reduced to two seats after the election.

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Mana Maori?

July 1st, 2011 at 8:03 pm by David Farrar

In my Herald column I look at the Mana and Maori parties and conclude that the sensible thing for the Maori Party is to find a way to work with the Mana Party, as united they will be stronger than fighting each other.

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Maori Party candidates for Te Tai Tokerau

May 24th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Yvonne Tahana writes in the Herald:

The Maori Party candidate for the Te Tai Tokerau byelection will be selected today, with movie actor Waihoroi Shortland one of the leading prospects.

Mr Shortland, lawyer Mere Mangu and Whangarei Maori Party official Solomon Tipene will be interviewed at Waitangi today by a panel of eight. …

Mr Shortland, a charismatic and articulate former journalist known to many as “Wassie”, is a reo expert with connections to all of the major northern iwi. He starred in the movie Boy and has had a long career in Maori media.

Ms Mangu will provide strong competition. The leading voice for Tai Tokerau women, she comes with a significant degree of homegrown support and is known to stand and speak at Te Tii Marae at Waitangi.

However, her past unsuccessful attempts for the seat in 2002 and 2005, when she fought hard but finished off the pace as an independent, could be an important factor those on the panel will weigh.

Mr Tipene has less of a profile and ranks as an outside chance.

The stronger the Maori Party candidate, the more chance there is Labour could come through the middle and win the seat – which in this rare case is desirable.

Mangu got 7% of the vote in 2005 as an Independent. That is very high for an Independent.

It will be interesting to see who they select.

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Hone wanted to be a Minister

February 21st, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett in the Herald reports:

The Government’s arch critic, Hone Harawira, wanted to become a minister when the Maori Party first went into coalition with National in 2008, according to a confidential statement by caucus colleague Te Ururoa Flavell.

In his submission to today’s disciplinary committee hearing against Mr Harawira, obtained by the Herald, Mr Flavell said both he and the Te Tai Tokerau MP were prepared to take up ministerial positions – belying Mr Harawira’s recent strong criticisms of his party for staying in the coalition.

“Put it this way: If he was to have received a ministerial position, would he still be writing to criticise the relationship? Answer: I doubt it.”

I’d say Flavell is right.

Mr Flavell was also scathing about Mr Harawira’s criticism of National as “anti-worker” and “anti-environment,” saying the MP had had difficulties with his own staff and once told the caucus he did not believe in climate change and nobody would tell him to drive a smaller car.

Hmmn, Hone as co-leader of a new left party is starting to look very interesting!

In the often-emotional submission, Mr Flavell said it was not easy laying a complaint against his friend of more than 40 years and it had taken a toll on his whanau, the party and the other MPs, who had suffered personal abuse.

However, Mr Harawira appeared to have a deliberate strategy to cast the other Maori Party MPs in a bad light.

He depicted the maverick MP as “talking himself up” and “big-noting” by constantly painting himself as the only true voice of Maoridom. “That strategy is aimed at putting the rest of us down.”

And this has been the problem. Hone has always had the freedom to attack National for politices he disagrees with. But when he slags off his own party and colleagues, it is no surprise they have a limit to how much they will put up with.

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Harawira suspended

February 7th, 2011 at 3:03 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Maverick MP Hone Harawira has been suspended from the Maori Party caucus.

In a statement today, Maori Party co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia announced the suspension, saying that it was a result of Mr Harawira’s behaviour in the party for the past five years.

That is an interesting time-frame to refer to. It looks like it has been building for a long time, and has reached the near inevitable conclusion.

“We have always respected the right, and made provision for caucus colleagues to speak out on issues which their constituency presents. We do this, however, always guided by the principle of unity of purpose and direction (kotahitanga).”

No political movement could survive divided within itself, they said.

“We have made this decision with heavy hearts. We are especially mindful of the position of Maori Party supporters in Te Tai Tokerau, who will obviously feel loyal to Mr Harawira; but who are also supportive of our kaupapa Maori and the achievements of the Maori Party in Parliament.

“We want them to know that we have huge respect for the people of Te Tai Tokerau and our commitment to our people remains unwavering.”

The suspension would remain in force until further notice.

It will be interesting to see if Harawira now gives his proxy vote to the Opposition. It won’t affect things a lot as you need 62 votes to pass a law and Nat + ACT = 63 and NAT + Maori = 62 so National can still go either way – plus have Peter Dunne.

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The Flavell complaint

February 5th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

3 News has a copy of the Flavell complaint about Hone Harawira. Extracts:

Firstly, while it is totally acceptable that we as a caucus have different views about various matters within the Party or caucus, it is appropriate that these issues are discussed internally.

This is standard in all parties. Hone has done nothing but attack his own party and colleagues for several weeks – he can’t really expect there to be no consequences for that.

This statement is made by one of our members who actually shaped the Bill, contributed to the discussions, heard the debate, saw the briefing papers and had direct access to the Minister. When I questioned him myself about why he was against it, he raised issues which I suggested he should take to the Minister. He decided he would not, in fact he stated that he had no intention of seeking any answers. He went on to issue a statement about the short comings of the Bill some of the points of which were incorrect.   And to be quite frank, this Bill is our Bill – there is no question in my mind that unless we had negotiated as we did in our coalition agreement, that National would never have considered there to be any need to repeal the 2004 Act and develop an alternative legislative framework.

It is interesting that Harawira turned down opportunities to work within the system – he just does the easy option of mouthing off in public.

And Flavell is right that without the Maori Party asking for it, the Foreshore & Seabed Act would probably have not been reviewed or replaced.

I have lost trust and confidence in Hone to work as a part of our team and relationships have disintegrated to the disadvantage of our Party. For us to continue in this way is to see the situation worsen and have a huge impact on the long term future of our Party.

As Hone has shown not one ounce of compromise, I think it is inevitable he will be expelled – not because they want to, but because they have to. If he really wants to stay within the Maori Party, he has to gve them a reason to trust him.

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Will the Maori Party have peace in our time?

February 2nd, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Mike Watson at Stuff reports:

A hui to hear a complaint against Maverick Maori Party MP Hone Harawira has ended without resolution on his future with the party.

Mr Harawira and Maori Party whip Te Ururoa Flavell walked out together but told reporters they hadn’t resolved all the issues that sparked the hui.

The fact they talked face to face is a good start, but I have my doubts that it will solve things.

Harawira said this afternoon he “absolutely” believed he could still work with Flavell and had no issues with co-leader Tariana Turia either.

He did not want to leave the Maori Party.

I think this supports the Gower theory that Hone is in fact trying to take over the Maori Party. Note that he did not say he had no issues with Pita Sharples.

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Maori Party schism looks likely

January 19th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

One News reports:

A collective from the Maori Party filed an official complaint against fellow Maori Party member Hone Harawira late last night.

Maori Party President, Pem Bird, says he received a complaint yesterday from Waiaraki MP Te Ururoa Flavell, supported by Te Tai Tonga MP Rahui Katene, and Maori Party co-leaders Dr Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia. …

Bird said the party is seeking an early meeting to try and resolve the issues raised by the complaint and an urgent hui will be held on Friday.

“We have invited Hone Harawira, Te Ururoa Flavell on behalf of the complainants, and the Chair of the Te Tai Tokerau Electorate Council to be present at the hui. It will be chaired by the Party’s co Vice President, Ken Mair. The hui will be private and confidential to enhance the chances of successfully resolving the issues in the complaint,” Bird said.

I’m not sure what Harawira’s game plan is. Sometimes it looks like he is trying to take over the Maori Party and mould it in his own image. Sometimes it looks like he is trying to engineer a split.

It is hard to see how he can be a candidate for the Maori Party at the next election, with his recent actions. If there is a schism, he will take a lot of activists with him.

What will be interesting is whether he stands as an Independent, tries to set up his own Maori Party or becomes the Leader of a hard left party which includes Sue Bradford and Matt McCarten. If he does the latter, then they will get representation in Parliament on the basis of Harawira retaining his seat which is likely. Not sure though that Hone would want to be seen to stand for a party which is not a Maori nationalistic party.

Overall this is pretty good news for the left. One danger however is that a Harawiara led hard left party could attract activists and voters from the Greens, and they can’t afford to drop under 5%.

Hat Tip: Whowuddathort

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Hone v Rodney

October 20th, 2010 at 8:39 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at the Herald reports:

Asked about the issue on his way into Parliament yesterday, Mr Harawira refused to answer any questions asked in English and spoke only in te reo before walking away.

He earlier told Radio Waatea that if the Government agreed to Act’s request then the Maori Party should walk away from the coalition.

“I don’t see why we should sit back and let a little fat redneck like Rodney Hide put in an amendment at the last minute.”

Two ironies here.

The first is that Rodney is fitter than Hone I would say, and would probably kick his arse in a swimming race.

The second is that I am pretty sure that Rodney doesn’t care what the skin colour is of any girls who want to date his son. So Hone calling someone else a redneck is ironic.

But as Michael Laws had to apologise for calling the GG fat, will Hone be made to apologise for his comments?

If the Maori Party does pull support, it could mean the current 2004 act would stay in place. Mr Key has previously said he would not make any changes if there was not a reasonable level of consensus and the Labour Party has not yet decided whether to support it further.

Would be rather embarrassing for the Maori Party if the status quo ends up remaining.

Mr Harawira has urged Maori to make submissions opposing the bill, saying it stops short of ownership for Maori and the threshold for customary title is too high, meaning most hapu would get nothing.

Most hapu will not get customary title indeed – because that is what the Court of Appeal found. The test was for uninterrupted exclusive use. The Court of Appeal never said the foreshore belongs to all Maori.

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More stupidity from Labour

October 20th, 2010 at 8:12 am by David Farrar

Labour has no realistic chance of forming a Government after 2011 election, unless it is with Maori Party support. The chances of Labour and Greens alone having more seats than National, Maori, United and ACT is remote. However with the Maori Party they have a fighting chance.

So what do they do. The Herald reports:

Labour MP Shane Jones will try to topple Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples in next year’s election by challenging for his Tamaki Makaurau seat.

Mr Jones has confirmed to the Herald he will seek the nomination to stand for Labour in the Maori electorate, which has been Dr Sharples’ stronghold since the Maori Party entered Parliament in 2005.

His challenge will end an apparent tacit agreement by Labour not to stand strong candidates against the two Maori Party co-leaders, who rely on their electorate seats rather than the party vote to be in Parliament.

It will at the least cause Dr Sharples some discomfort in the seat where half the voters gave their party vote to Labour last election.

Mr Jones has taken a no-holds-barred approach to the Maori Party, and especially its leaders, since it became a support partner for National.

Although the Maori Party has consistently expressed willingness to work with either of the major parties in government, Mr Jones said it had become “listless and torpid” with National. He believed it was time for a “more aspirational voice in Maori politics”.

A total strategic blunder that dooms Phil Goff.

In the medium to long term the Maori Party will be mainly in coalition with the Labour Party. But instead of treating them as potential allies, they keep treating them like shit – as they also did to the Greens for many years. This means that their chances of going with Labour in 2011, if they hold balance of power, is significantly diminished.

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Goff instructs Maori Party to support him

September 23rd, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

Labour leader Phil Goff says the Maori Party needs to start listening to Maori voters and put a future coalition with Labour back on the table.

He told Waatea News that the meltdown of ACT and improving polling among other opposition parties means the next Government could well be a coalition of Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First.

Mr Goff said the Maori Party needed to face up to the fact National “hasn’t delivered for Maori”.

He also said the majority of Maori voters gave their party vote to Labour last election.

Firstly I note how Labour are openly talking up NZ First. They campaign on transparency in electoral laws, yet say they believe WInston didn’t know about the Owen Glenn donations. Ha.

Anyway, don’t you like the arrogance of demanding the Maori Party must support them, as most Maori gave Labour their party vote.

Goff has had Mallard and Jones spend most of the last two years attacking the Maori Party, and finally it has clicked he will need them to have a chance to form a Government.  What a stroke of genius.

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Is Hone planning a coup?

September 20th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Firebrand Maori Party MP Hone Harawira is considering a tilt at the party’s leadership over the foreshore and seabed legislation, claims Ngapuhi academic and leader David Rankin.

At this point my radar tells me not to take it seriously. Rankin has a long history of making oddball claims.

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Not racist?

August 5th, 2010 at 6:59 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Human Rights Commission says Maori Party MP Hone Harawira needs to consider whether his personal feelings are helpful to race relations.

Good to have the HRC comment.

Mr Harawira said in a weekend newspaper interview he would not feel comfortable if one of his seven children brought home a Pakeha partner, and believed many Pakeha would feel the same about Maori.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said members of the public had contacted the Human Rights Commission about the remarks.

He said Mr Harawira’s comments reflected an “unwelcome prejudice” toward Pakeha, adding that census statistics on babies’ ethnicities contradicted Mr Harawira’s views.

It is prejudice. Especially as it was painted purely negatively towards Pakeha. If Hone had said he prefers his children to date Maori as it helps keeps the Maori culture alive, that would be somewhat different. But he basically said he does not want them dating whiteys – would have no problems with Pacific Islanders.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said the remarks were not racist and probably mirrored the feelings of many people. …

“I think it’s just not divisive at all. It’s a view point.”

Not racist and not divisive?

So if a Caucasian Member of Parliament came out and said that he would not want his children to date Maori or Pacific Islanders, that would not be racist, and that would not be divisive?

I’m very disappointed. If the Maori Party ever talk about prejudice or racism, then their words are going to be rather hollow in future.

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GST on “healthy food”

July 14th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Political momentum for removing GST from healthy food is increasing with both the Maori and Labour parties working on the idea.

But even in the event the two parties were to put aside their differences and work together on the policy they would not have the numbers to pass the required legislation since the National Party and United Future are opposed to it.

Maori Party MP Rahui Katene’s Goods and Services Tax (Exemption of Healthy Food) Amendment Bill is likely to get its first reading when Parliament returns from recess next Tuesday.

The member’s bill would remove GST from fruit and vegetables, bread and cereals, some dairy products, lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.

Yesterday, Labour Party leader Phil Goff – who has previously opposed similar proposals – said his party was close to adopting what he believed was a more workable policy to remove GST from fresh fruit and vegetables.

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said Ms Katene’s proposal wasn’t viable because of problems around defining what constituted healthy food. Furthermore, removing GST from the food specified in the bill would mean the loss of about $330 million a year in tax revenue which would have to be found somewhere else.

I can’t believe how desperate Labour are getting with its support for such nonsense. The only winners from removing GST on so called healthy food will be the tax lawyers.

The moment you start picking and choosing what goods are included, you get massive distortions and gaming of the system -and huge complexity.

Also any removal of GST may be insignificant compared to normal price movements. By coincidence the Herald reports today:

Food prices dropped by 2 per cent in the past year – the largest annual fall since records began more than 50 years ago.

The Food Price Index, released yesterday, shows that fruit and vegetables are nearly 10 per cent cheaper than they were a year ago.

So fruit and veges are 10% cheaper without fiddling with GST, which would cause the Government to borrow a further $330 million a year.

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Little on Labour

July 6th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Two interesting quotes from Andrew Little on The Nation (TV3 Sat 10 am) which I have to challenge:

Oh I think if you look at parties that are freshly in opposition, where we are polling is actually very good.  If you have a look at Labour in opposition during the 1990s, we were polling in the low to mid 20s.  We’ve been hovering around 30 or just a fraction above it.  I think in only one or two polls we’ve come in just under 30, but around about 30 is not bad for a party freshly in opposition.

I’m not sure if Andrew actually believes what he is saying, or if this is just spin, but let us look at the reality.

First of all one has to remember that in the 1990s there were other large leftwing parties such as the Alliance and NZ First.In 1996 Labour got 28% and could have governed with the Alliance and NZ First. Today they only have the Greens so anything below around 40% probably means opposition for them.

But in 1991, Labour’s average poll rating (TVNZ polls) was 42%. Their average for 1991 – 1993 was 40%. Since the 2008 election the average has been 32%.

From 1994 to 1996, Labour did only poll in the 20s. But both the Alliance and NZ First were polling up to 30% each (not at same time). The centre-left was well ahead of the centre-right.

From 1997 to 1999, Labour averaged 41%.

After National lost office in 1999, National averaged 38% in both 2000 and 2001. It was only in 2002 that National dropped down to a 32% average, and we know how that election went.

So Labour’s ratings in opposition are not historically high. They are significantly lower than any other Opposition, apart from the period when the Alliance and NZ First was splitting up the left vote.

Well we have to work with our Maori constituency, our Maori members, our Maori MPs and with the Maori electorate, the wider Maori electorate out there, who still vote for Labour in droves in terms of the party vote.  So we still have that support out there.  Ideally you would like to think that given the issues that the Maori Party typically deal with, what their kaupapa are, that we would have a constructive relationship with them.  But it’s a two way street, if they don’t want to have that relationship, if Te Ururoa Flavell’s statement is correct that he doesn’t particularly care, there’s not a great deal that the Labour Party can do about that, but what we can do is continue to work on those issues that are important actually to working Maori people, working Maori families, and to lift their living standards.  That’s what we’re committed to doing.

I thought this statement came across as rather arrogant, almost blaming the Maori Party for the bad relationship.

If Andrew was smart, he’d talk to Phil about reining in Shane and Trevor’s attacks on the Maori Party. Shane Jones has said he sees his job as to destroy the Maori Party and wipe them out. So, any surprise that Mr Flavell is not feeling too warm towards them.

And need one be reminded of Helen calling them haters and wreckers and the last cab off the rank.

I sometimes think Labour is deliberately trying to lose the election, or to make it as hard as possible to win. They rank Chris Carter higher than Steven Joyce, they fail to get any of their deadwood to retire and they still treat the Maori Party as unworthy supplicants, despite the fact it is almost impossible for them to form a Government without them.

The only thing left for them to do is to announce their policy of increasing income tax on rich pricks, bringing back all the best memories of the last Government.

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National and Maori

June 20th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The HoS editorial:

One of the more bracing ironies of political life in 2010 is that a National Government has developed a relationship with Maori that its Labour predecessor never managed in nine years.

The last administration was hampered by Helen Clark’s tin ear for Maori issues.

In dismissing marchers in the Foreshore and Seabed hikoi as “haters and wreckers”, she destroyed a relationship that had delivered Labour most Maori votes for almost all of the previous 70 years. That led directly to the formation of the Maori Party.

And also called the Maori Party the last cab off the rank – preferred Winston instead.

And John Armstrong writes in the Weekend Herald:

But the contrast between Labour’s turmoil after Goff’s demotion of Carter and subsequent decision to send the MP home on stress leave and National’s success in healing what the Prime Minister calls a “weeping sore” was testimony to the vast gulf in performance between the two parties and a brutal indication of the size of the mountain Labour has to climb between now and next year’s election.

While Goff was nailing Carter to the cross, John Key was nailing down a deal with the Maori Party which is a huge stride toward National retaining the Government benches after the 2011 election. …

The other question is whether Labour will carry on being so hostile to the Maori Party now that Shane Jones, one of the leading protagonists, has been sidelined.

That strategy has proved to be largely counter-productive – succeeding only in driving the Maori Party closer to National.

As this week’s deal shows, Key has no compunction about making compromises to keep it there.

While I have always thought the chances of Phil Goff becoming Prime Minister was remote, I think this last week may go down in history as the week when they became non-existent.

Without the Maori Party, Labour and the Greens need to win 62 seats to be able to govern, and on current polls they look to be a dozen seats short of that.

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Editorials 21 April 2010

April 21st, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Three editorials on the UN Declaration. First the Herald:

When the previous Labour Government was confronted with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, it quailed.

The potential political backlash, rather than the practical outcome of signing a non-binding document, was uppermost in its mind.

At its behest, New Zealand joined a group of only four UN members opposed to the declaration. It was a nonsensical state of affairs for a country whose record on indigenous rights is far superior to the vast majority of those who had signed up. …

If New Zealand does certain things differently to the ideal scenario alluded to by the declaration, that is of no great practical consequence. The focus should be on its record on indigenous relations, which places it in the international vanguard.

The work of the Waitangi Tribunal, which since 1975 has served as an effective sounding board for iwi to relate their stories of land loss, has been an integral part of that.

New Zealand has always spoken from a position of strength on matters of indigenous rights because it comes closer than most to meeting the aspirations espoused in the UN declaration.

Signing that document was, as Dr Sharples suggests, a small step but one that has symbolic value domestically and internationally.

There may, indeed, be no practical impact. That does not mean, however, that grasping this nettle was not worthwhile.

So Herald very supportive.

The Press:

The Maori Party chalked up another victory this week with the announcement that the Government will support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although this decision is largely symbolic, support for the declaration had been a long-standing goal of the party and a source of friction between it and the previous Labour-led administration.

From a political perspective, support for the declaration makes sense for both the Maori Party and National. The Maori Party can add this to a growing list of policy concessions by National, including retaining the Maori seats and flying the Maori flag on Waitangi Day. In addition, the hated foreshore and seabed law will be repealed and the Maori Party’s flagship Whanau Ora policy will be introduced.

For National, these concessions have the effect of tying the Maori Party closer to it and creating the prospect that a support relationship between the two could endure past this term. In particular, it creates a point of difference with Labour, which justified its position as one of just four nations to oppose the declaration in 2007 by saying that it was at odds with New Zealand’s constitutional and legal framework. …

There is a risk that the declaration could be the basis of future attacks on this nation’s human rights record. But New Zealand governments have shown themselves capable of shrugging off previous criticism from bodies such as the UN Commission on Human Rights.

It might be argued, as Labour has done, that there was little point in endorsing the declaration if it would have no practical effect. It is, however, a symbol of New Zealand’s support for indigenous peoples across the globe.

And it was always incongruous that the vast majority of nations, many of which have appalling human rights records compared with New Zealand, voted for the bill, and that this nation did not.

Two in favour.

The Dom Post:

Recognising blah blah blah, affirming waffle waffle waffle. As a contribution to the human rights canon, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples leaves something to be desired.

It reads like a 48-page wish list assembled by a committee, which is exactly what it is – a committee which debated the merits of additional clauses, full stops and commas for 22 years. Drafting began in 1985, but the final wording was not approved by the United Nations General Assembly until 2007.

Heh sounds typical.

However, its drawn-out conception is not a reason to oppose it. Nor is its verbosity. The declaration is a flawed document – an assemblage of truisms and platitudes that imposes no obligations on signatories but contains fishhooks for nations that try to honour it.

It is actually to the last government’s credit that it declined to endorse a document it knew it could not implement. Amid the verbiage are a handful of articles that confer rights on indigenous peoples that are denied to other citizens. They include the right to veto government decisions and reclaim ownership of traditional lands – a right that, in New Zealand’s case, could be interpreted as covering the entire country.

New Zealand does not need to pay lip service to unworkable statements to demonstrate its good intent. …

However, there is value in restating the special status of Maori as New Zealand’s indigenous people, acknowledging the importance of Maori culture, affirming the Treaty of Waitangi’s place as New Zealand’s founding document and acknowledging the historic injustices suffered by Maori.

The negotiations between the Maori Party and National have enabled the Government to do so in a way which does not expose it to accusations of bad faith.

New Zealand’s declaration of support explicitly reaffirms the legal and constitutional frameworks that underpin the legal system and notes that those frameworks define the bounds of New Zealand’s engagement with the UN declaration. In other words, New Zealand law takes precedence over the declaration.

A momentous occasion as the Maori Party has suggested? Perhaps not, but a welcome opportunity to remove a source of friction between Maori and the Government and to put New Zealand back in the international mainstream. Of the four countries that initially opposed the declaration – New Zealand, the United States, Australia and Canada – only the US now stands outside the declaration. Australia changed its position last year and Canada has said it will do so.

Luke warm, but broadly supportive.

The ODT focuses on volcanic fallout:

If there is a lesson to be learned – again – from the billowing clouds of volcanic ash in the skies over Europe, it is the latent power of nature.

In 1783, the eruption of the volcano Laki in Iceland lasted for about eight months.

The effects of the layers of dust it threw into the atmosphere have been linked, among other things, to the failure of crops in France, and subsequent famine.

The fallout, Dr Stephen Edwards of the Department of Earth Sciences at University College London told the London Observer at the weekend, may have been one of a number of factors that led to the French Revolution. …

The interruption to normal service is costing the airline industry alone almost $NZ500 million a day, according to a conservative estimate by the International Air Transport Association.

The knock-on effects to a world economy just beginning to witness the signs of a fragile recovery from the recent recession, could be considerably amplified beyond the immediate consequences of cancelled flights.

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Arguments over the UN declaration

April 21st, 2010 at 8:15 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira says the Government’s support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People is more than just symbolism and it will be used to further claims of self-determination by iwi.

And Act Party leader Rodney Hide launched a stinging attack in Parliament not just on the decision to back the declaration but on Prime Minister John Key, calling him “naive in the extreme” to suggest it would have no practical effect.

It is very clear that he declaration has not status in law, and it has no legal effect.

However I would not go quite so far as to say it will have no practical effect. I am sure Iwi and others will use in advocacy on various issues, and it may have some “moral” effect – just as other non binding UN declarations can have some moral effect on decision making.

The UN recently reviewed NZ’s human rights records and recommended we do not introduce tasers. Now that excited the Greens and they used that to argue that we should not fully introduce them, but the Government has happily ignored the UN on this issue.

Labour leader Phil Goff said the National-led Government was trying to marry together forces that were totally opposed to each other.

“What we are seeing is the impossibility of balancing out the interests between the Act Party, the Maori Party and the National Party.”

He denounced the secrecy surrounding the announcement and said the Maori Party had been “duped”.

It is no secret the ACT Party and Maori Party disagree on many issues. But one doesn’t need them to agree, just as Winston and Jim Anderton didn’t agree on much (apart from the fact they both should have been Prime Minister).

The travel plans were kept secret – and the announcement made yesterday at 4.45am in New York.

Mr Key defended the secrecy yesterday, saying he hadn’t wanted to steal Dr Sharples’ thunder.

The intention was to make this a big thing for Dr Sharples, and it is a significant win for him. However Ministers should not be doing secret overseas trips, unless to dangerous war zones.

I also regard it as bad political management that ACT found out through the media. Under “no surprises” they should have been told in confidence.

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An appalling decision

February 8th, 2010 at 4:57 pm by David Farrar

I’m not a fan of posting details of Judges who issue suppression orders, as Cameron has threatened to do. Likewise I would not personally breach suppression orders as I am more an advocate of lobbying against stupid laws, rather than breaking them.

I do strongly support the Law Commission’s recommendation to make suppression orders much more difficult to achieve for those convicted of a crime.

But hell when I read about the recent case in Palmerston North, my blood boils and I am half tempted to join Whale in direct action. If you don’t know the case I am talking about, this is the Manawatu Standard on it:

If there were any lingering doubts that the guidelines for suppressing names in this country needed strengthening, the case detailed in today’s Manawatu Standard should shatter them.

The creeping secrecy pervading our justice system has long since passed what the public should accept as a reasonable restriction on their freedom of expression in order to safeguard the administration of justice.

The decision to suppress the name of a prominent Manawatu man convicted of downloading pornographic images of children is a salient example of how the principle of open justice has been reduced to little more than a passing mention before a judge abdicates his or her duty to ensure our public court system belongs to the people.

What if this man does not just download child pornography, but seeks to create some of his own? Parents are blocked from being able to protect their kids..

For Judge Fraser to say publication of the man’s identity was not required because none of the thousands of children pictured were New Zealanders is logically outrageous. Such an argument requires one to believe this man investigated the background of each of his young victims to determine they were not from this country. Does Judge Fraser believe that had the man known the children were New Zealanders he would have not downloaded the images?

An appalling lack of logic.

The Maori Party have attacked the decision:

Maori Party MPs have joined the chorus of condemnation at the permanent name suppression given to a prominent Manawatu man who downloaded more than 300,000 pornographic images, many of them picturing children.

“The decision to permanently suppress this man’s name is outrageous as is the decision to give him a few months home detention,” Maori Party justice spokeswoman Rahui Katene said.

“We urge the prosecution to appeal the sentence so this man can never ever again be allowed to continue his sick actions in a veil of secrecy.”

I hope it is appealed. But I also hope the Government puts a law change on the fast track.

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Shane’s ambitions are showing

January 27th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Asked if they would rule out mounting a challenge at any point before next year’s election, Mr Cunliffe answered with an emphatic no. “Absolutely ruled out. Never been interested.”

Mr Jones initially said no comment before returning to say it was a “negative, divisive question”.

Rather different responses.

“Absolutely no interest whatsoever in applying for leadership or doing anything that breaks our unity.”

Which is far from a no.

Elsewhere:

Labour MP Shane Jones has begun the year vowing to drive the Maori Party out of Parliament, saying they had betrayed their own people and lured the Government into funding their policies of “buying favours by giving money to a favoured few”.

The criticism following Labour’s first caucus of the year yesterday was a clear sign that the gentle approach Labour has thus far taken to the smaller party is over.

Shane talks tough but I notice he doesn’t stand himself against Maori Party candidates in the Maori seats. He normally stands in Northland, losing to John Carter by 10,000 or so votes.

I’ve said it before but Labour are making a strategic blunder by attacking the Maori Party – for two reasons. The first is that they have no chance of winning back four of the five seats held by the Maori Party, and if anything are at risk of losing two further seats to them.

At the last election Labour won the party vote in the Maori seats with 50% to 29% for the Maori Party. The November 2009 Marae Digipoll had the Maori Party at 62% (up 33%) and Labour at 23% (down 27%).

On top of this, it is almost impossible for Labour to form a Government without support from the Maori Party. They have lost the Alliance and Winston First. Progressive and United Future probably won’t be there next time, and Labour and the Greens by themselves are incredibly unlikely to win 63 seats.

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Colin James gives Turia Politician of the Year

December 21st, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Colin James writes:

The Maori Party’s Mr Harawira also spent taxpayers’ money on personal fun, in Paris. Confronted, he reverted to Hone, the abusive teenage protester. For that he earned a grandmother’s fierce disapproval.

That gutsy, determined kuia five years ago held off Labour’s heavy hitters and earned their fury for what they saw – and see in exchanges as late as last week – as duplicity. She went solo and now has four MPs alongside her. The party’s future is far from secure and many National policies are anathema to its voters. But it is in the game and winning points.

In that game it is Tariana Turia who anchors the party. Whacking Mr Harawira quarantined a threat to its important third constituency (after two sorts of Maori): an intrigued and respectful white middle-class that ungrudgingly (so far) concedes the points the party wins.

Mrs Turia is my politician of the year.

Kiwiblog readers also voted Tariana the Minor Party MP of the Year. I can recall the days when she was seen as electoral poison. She has achieved something quite remarkable with her establishment of the Maori Party, as I suspect it will be one of the four parties still existing in 2030.

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