Four more valedictories

July 25th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

First is Rajen Prasad:

 I have been entrusted with the roles like New Zealand’s Race Relations Conciliator, Human Rights Commissioner, adjudicator in immigration cases, and * Chief Families Commissioner. But nothing prepares you for your life as a politician. In the eyes of many, I became useless, self-interested, untrustworthy, and just a bloody politician overnight. Such is the contempt in which we are held, but that reputation is neither accurate nor deserved. I have the utmost respect for all my parliamentary colleagues across the House. I have never worked with a more hard-working group of individuals dedicated to providing 24/7 for the nation and for their constituents.

A nice reminder that most MPs are very hard working and dedicated people. Yes there are some bad eggs, but they are the minority.

I have been asked to speak directly to Mrs Macindoe of Hamilton, Tim’s mother, who wants to know why I am always mean towards her son when debating in the House. Tim has been unable to convince her otherwise. Mrs Macindoe, I am speaking to you. I count your son as a friend, and we have travelled together through China and Mongolia with our partners. Tim is a perfect gentleman and on every occasion outside this House we act as friends and we always inquire about each other’s health. It is the nature of life in this Chamber to debate vigorously when our values lead to different policy prescriptions, but we remain civil, we remain supportive, we remain friends, and I count you as one of them and, through you, everybody else. 

Nicely said.

I want to make a few comments about ethnic affairs and immigration. But first I want to acknowledge the current ethnic members of this Parliament: Raymond Huo, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Melissa Lee, and Jian Yang. Although we come from different sides of the House, we collectively understand ethnic issues and the demands of our communities. However, I wonder whether the nature of these demands is fully understood in the various courts of this Parliament. There are 500,000 members of ethnic communities in New Zealand, and this is our constituency. These communities have come to see ethnic MPs as their link to our formal systems. In addition, they have a not unreasonable expectation that we will be their advocates, their advisers, and their champions. We are required to be present at all their major events and functions, to speak at all of them, to act like their electorate MPs. So for ethnic MPs the country becomes our electorate and there is no end to the constituency matters that we have to deal with.

Sadly Labour may end up with no Asian MPs after the election. Hell they may end up with no List MPs at all!

I have seen a suggestion that all MPs should prepare an individual annual report on what work we have done as a way of informing our people. This is a sensible idea and could be useful in reaching over the media to inform people more widely. Instead, what is reported is how many press statements we put out, how many Official Information Act requests we lodge, or how many questions for written answer we ask. These have become the measuring stick, never mind the fact that most of them are never published, and that many are binned immediately after they have been received. 

Hmmn, I think he is referring my league tables. The trick is to get them published, and if you never put any out – well …

DARIEN FENTON (Labour): Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker, ngā mihi nui, kia koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. I want to first of all acknowledge my buddy Rajen Prasad, and tell him that I have still got the photos from our trip to Taiwan and that I am planning to divulge them before I leave. I also want to acknowledge you, Mr Assistant Speaker, because you will make your valedictory next week, and I am also looking forward to that, and it has been a pleasure working with you. I want to acknowledge all members of Parliament whom I have served with, and I do so without rancour or criticism, because much to my surprise, over nearly 9 years in Parliament, I have found that despite furious debate about political difference, most MPs come here with sincere intent. 

It’s a pity we only get reminded of this as valedictories.

I know that some people think I was born a devil beast trade unionist, but my apprenticeship to the labour movement in this Parliament was forged in many different experiences and some very tough jobs. I grew up in a family where war and politics cast a long shadow. My grandfather Frederick Frost fought and was injured in Somme* in the First World War*. . That man started his first job at the age of 12 as a pit boy in a Northumberland mine. So if I am a bit rough around the edges, I think you probably get it now. He was elected the Labour MP for New Plymouth in the wartime Labour Government led by Michael Joseph Savage* and then Peter Fraser*. . My father Verdun Frost was a navigator in World War II* and patrolled the Pacific. Like his father he was a declared socialist. My mother, the very staunch and Catholic Patricia Mary Te Rata Mahuta Kerr, came from an ancestry of Irish rebels. She was very stroppy. I was scared of her. Tau Henare descends from that line, so you kind of know what I mean. You cannot help your relatives. My parents instilled in their two sons and two daughters the hope of a better and fairer life for all in New Zealand. My generation profited from their sacrifice and hard work. Early Labour Governments meant that I, along with John Key, grew up in a State house and benefited from State-funded health and education. That gave me choices that younger people do not have today. I had the freedom and security to be different and to challenge. With my troublemaking heritage, it was inevitable that I would be drawn to the anti-war nuclear movements and the remote hippy generation of the 1970s. It led me on a journey that was both good and bad. I dropped out of education. I had a range of interesting and boring jobs. I travelled through dangerous countries, and I did some silly things. Some will have read the story of my drug addiction, when I was a younger person in the 1970s. Despite treatment and recovery years ago, I reluctantly agreed for my story to be published this year. It is still such a taboo topic, so hard to talk about. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I blame no one but myself for my mistakes, and I have made plenty. Drug-taking was a means of defiance against the establishment and seemed cool at the time. I know that the threat of law-breaking or addiction did not stop me, and the opprobrium of society made no difference. I want to say that smoking a joint did not lead me to other drugs; criminals selling drugs did. That is why I believe that the war on drugs has been a total failure. That is why I think it is time for this Parliament to treat drug abuse as a health problem, not a criminal offence—that means properly funded addiction treatment. I also believe it is time for politicians in this House to decriminalise personal marijuana use and take the crooks out of the business. 

A very interesting background, and I agree with her on drugs.

Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES (Minister of Māori Affairs):

I will just tell you straight that I go up and down the country talking to my people and I say to you—and I will say it again now—that Parliament is a Westminster system that is all about the vote. If you are able to secure the vote you are able to secure change and progress for you and your party. It is not just how loud you protest outside is or the issues you bring up; this is about sitting at the table. You have got to be at the table. That is why parties go to extraordinary lengths to try to do deals and be at the table and so on, and that is great—that is the system. But just know that that is the system. I really feel strongly that there should be programmes introduced in schools. This is what we did with * Te Reo Māori. It was slipping away—gone burger. Then, suddenly, we brought in * kōhanga reo and started teaching the little ones. Now they are reading the news in Māori. Now they are working for companies. Now they have got their own companies, kōrero Māori ana. And it works. So what about if we had some lessons in schools about our system of Government: what it is, what you do there, how you make laws and you get rewards and things for your people?

If you’re not at the table, then you’re just a series of press releases.

Well, you think you know your Prime Minister. I am going to just give you the real Prime Minister. You are a strong, forceful leader, albeit with a strange sense of humour.

Very strange 🙂

I have got a lot of * mokopuna. They are all here—downstairs, I guess. I have got one great mokopuna. He is 1 now, and his name is Kanohi Tanga Utu Kanohi Tū Hanga. I want to speak to him now. E moko, in 30 years you can become the new co-leader of the Māori Party. You will have more than 20 Māori caucus members and be deciding which ones should be in the House of Representatives—in Parliament—and which ones should be in the “Upper Treaty Senate”, which, 30 years ago, began with our constitutional review. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a * superministry called * Whānau Ora. In my time, they had separate ministries for social development, education, employment, and so on. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with the chief executive officers of Māori statutory boards all around the country. In my time we had to have a * hīkoi, we had to have lots of hui, and we had to have a scrap in * Cabinet to get the first one up and running in Auckland. In 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a “Minister for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Negotiations”. That is right—that is the one who replaced the * Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations after all the settlements were completed. In my time, when we got the declarations signed they said it would not mean anything—by the way, that is what they said about the Treaty as well. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with all the * Whare Ōranga Ake units that have been created. Back in my time they were called prisons and did not provide any rehabilitation programmes. Oh yes, moko, keep up with your English language, because in 30 years’ time * Te Reo Māori will be the official language of New Zealand, spoken by all. And so, mokopuna, grow strong; you have much to do. * Tēnā tātou.

A vision for NZ for his grandchildren.


There is nowhere where I feel more at peace than in the still tranquillity of the * Whanganui River, * Te Awa Tupua, our life blood, our tribal heartbeat, the sacred umbilical cord that unites us from the mountain to the sea. Every year our iwi come together to connect as one through the journey that we call the Tira Hoe Waka. In many ways the last 18 years in this place have been like that same journey that we take: a journey of hope, hope for a better future for our * mokopuna. 

Like Sharples, a focus on the future.

And my beloved friend-in-arms Parekura—I miss him so much. Whenever I think of Parekura, I think of how important he has been to my family. My baby, my mokopuna* whom I have raised, Piata, who would have given anything to be Ngati Porou*, , used to come home from school and say to me “Māmā*, , can I just say that I am?”, because she wanted Parekura to be her real pāpā.

Oh, that is so nice.

 And Darren Hughes—that amazing young man Darren Hughes—who I thought would one day be the leader of the Labour Party and who in fact will end up being the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I miss him so much; he was a great young man, a beautiful young man.

If Darren was still an MP, I suspect he would be Deputy Leader by now.

 I want to take this opportunity to mihi to somebody in the House for whom I have huge respect and regard, and that is Hekia. Tēnā koe ki te Minita*. . I have absolutely loved your passionate belief that all of our children have a right to succeed in education. Second-best is not part of your vocabulary, and only excellence will do. You know that we are preparing the next leaders of this nation. I believe totally in what you are doing and I want to say that today in this House.

And the results for young Maori doing NCEA are improving significantly.

I cannot leave this House without recognising a real friend, Chris Finlayson. Chris is the greatest Treaty settlements Minister that we have ever had in this country.

If National gets a third term, we may see the last historical settlement completed!

Sharples legacy

July 3rd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

For many Pakeha the first memory of him may be as the leader of the young kapa haka group he had trained for the ceremony at the 1990 Commonwealth Games.

But political commentator Rawiri Taonui, indigenous studies adjunct professor at Auckland University of Technology, sets his contribution in a context going back to the 1970s.

“He’s one of a declining number of Maori leaders who is a full embodiment of the Maori renaissance going back to the 1970s and 1980s, helping establish the first kohanga reo, the first kura kaupapa at Hoani Waititi, getting urban marae up and running and contributing to the development of Maori tertiary education and the renaissance of kapa haka.”

He said Dr Sharples was at the cutting edge of the debate on the foreshore and seabed and of the development of an independent Maori voice in Parliament and of local body Maori representation.

“It has been a huge and significant contribution.”

Sharples has made an fine contribution to New Zealand.

Rival Labour list MP Shane Jones, who is lining up to take Dr Sharples’ Tamaki Makaurau seat, also gave credit to Dr Sharples’ cultural achievement, but he was less flattering about his political legacy.

“He’s not been a strong or decisive figure in his parliamentary leadership. He was always a figure of the cultural renaissance and that’s incredibly important; no-one can take that away from him. But in terms of a parliamentary scrapper or a beacon for a brighter set of policies through Parliament, Dr Sharples has probably been one of the weakest Maori ministers that we’ve had, certainly in my lifetime.”

Dr Taonui could not disagree more.

“History will look back at Pita Sharples as one of the finest Maori politicians of this generation.”

He had tried to address every issue including criminal justice and the health system. “I think actually he has been one of the best [Maori affairs ministers] and probably the best in the last four years.”

I’d put him somewhere in-between. Turia was and is the sharper political operator, but Sharples was excellent at developing positive relationships 0 and relationships are what politics thrives on.

His other big achievement was helping win in Parliament mainstream acceptance of kaupapa Maori “in a more relaxed and open atmosphere than at any time in our history”.

Not for him “white motherf……” outbursts and the occasional angry rhetoric of Mana leader Hone Harawira.

Sharples has always been warmly regarded by most New Zealanders.

Sharples stands down

July 2nd, 2013 at 8:49 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Sharples is poised to stand down today as party leader though he will remain an MP until the next election.

The Maori Party confirmed last night Sharples would be holding a press conference this morning to announce his decision about the leadership, but would not say more.

Sharples has been under pressure for months to stand down after co-leader Tariana Turia made it clear she considered it was time for a change.

He reportedly plans to remain an MP until the next election and to retain his ministerial portfolios.

Key this morning said he was “totally comfortable” with Sharples remaining a minister, though he was waiting to hear from the Maori Party about what decisions they had made.

This is the right decision (if reported correctly) for the Maori Party, as it solves the leadership issue – at least for the male co-leader. Ikaroa-Rawhiti showed voters will not support a party with uncertain leadership.

As Sharples is retiring from Parliament also, his seat of Tamaki Makarau will become more vulnerable to Labour at the election. However Flavell becoming co-leader will help secure his seat and I expect Turia’s sucessor to retain her seat – at least in 2014 anyway.

The Maori Party leadership hui

April 9th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Maori Party held a hui on the 17th of March, in Huntly, to try to resolve the leadership issue between Sharples and Flavell.

It was chaired by Tuku Morgan, who declared that there was no consensus for change. What has not been reported is that there was overwhelming support for Flavell to succeed Sharples as co-leader, but after the seven electorates voted, Tuku closed the meeting and declared that anything other than unanimity did not represent consensus.

I’ve been informed by someone credible who was at the Hui, that five of the seven Maori electorates voted that Flavell should succeed Sharples at some stage before the election.

Flavell won the votes of Hauraki-Waikato, Te Tai Hauāuru, Te Tai Tokerau, Te Tai Tonga and Waiariki.

Sharples was supported by Ikaroa-Rāwhiti (his whakapapa) and Tāmaki Makaurau only.

Many of those in attendance were flabbergasted that the moment the vote was declared, Tuku closed the meeting unilaterally declaring there was no consensus. If the Hui had been allowed to discuss the ramifications of the 5-2 vote, it is possible a compromise or succession plan could have been agreed upon.

Sharples’ latest attack on Flavell from China (to do so while part of a trade mission has some journalists saying it is a very bad look), accusing him of blackmail has dismayed many who know that there is a limited window of time for the Maori Party to work out a compromise, or risk losing some of their seats at the election.

Maori Party leadership stand off resolved

April 1st, 2013 at 8:06 am by David Farrar

The Maori Party have announced:

New co-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell, has announced a solution has been implemented to the leadership and succession challenge that the Maori Party have been facing.

Upon reflection we have all agreed that with Tariana retiring at the 2014 election, it will not benefit the Maori Party to have both co-leaders retire at or before the next election. Therefore it has been decided that Pita will remain co-leader for the foreseeable, future and will remain a Minister while the Maori Party is in Government.

Maori Party President Pem Bird has thanked Pita Sharples for his agreement to remain one of the helmsmen of the Maori Party waka, and also thanked Tariana Turia for her service to the party.

Tariana has agreed for her retirement to take effect immediately as a co-leader, and the National Council has resolved to elect Te Uroroa Flavell as her successor  This means that we will have clear leadership going into the 2014 election with Pita Sharples and Te Uroroa Flavell as co-leaders. Tariana will remain a Minister up until the election, and it is our expectation that Te Ururoa will become a Minister after the election if the Maori Party is in Government again.




Sharples on staying on

March 29th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples has come out of his corner fighting in the leadership contest with MP Te Ururoa Flavell, saying that although he knows the standoff could damage the party he will not stand aside or give a future date for his retirement, because he believed staying on was critical for the party to survive.

I think Sharples motives are good, and he is right that if he retired as an MP it would be bad for the Maori Party. He will be 73 at the election, and probably wouldn’t mind a quieter life.

But the issue is whether he has to remain as co-leader to still help the Maori Party retain support. I would have thought there is some sort of elegant solution where he becomes the “Kaumata”, is pledged to remain a Minister but you make Flavell co-leader to clearly signal there is a succession plan.

“I believe I’m the best person to lead us into the next election. We’ve had so much disruption with Hone going, and people saying there should only be one Maori party, and now Tariana is leaving.

“So it is important someone who has the connections, who is known throughout the country and has given all my heart and integrity is there to try to rally them back to the party.” He said he was not angry at Mr Flavell for challenging, but wished he had waited a while longer.

However, Dr Sharples is also refusing to commit to standing down at a future date after 2014 even if that would convince Mr Flavell to stay his challenge, saying that might weaken his leadership impact.

If there had been some clear indication of dates, then I imagine Flavell would not have been so public with his desires.

Dr Sharples also said he regretted saying he hoped to lead the party until the day he died – a comment he said was intended to be light-hearted but which drew criticisms, including from NZ First leader Winston Peters, by people comparing it with a dictatorship. He hoped Mr Flavell would stay on if the party elected to stay with Dr Sharples.

“I would love him to stay with me, so we could work together. He’s an awesome worker. But the leadership is a particular kind of thing at this stage, and I think I can reach out to a whole lot of sources that need to come back.

It will be interesting to see if they manage to find a solution to this.

Maori Party leadership

March 20th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Kate Chapman at Stuff reports:

The Maori Party is considering three leaders after a failed leadership bid by party whip Te Ururoa Flavell.

Co-leader Tariana Turia has described it as akin to having no leader at all. …

Professor Winiata’s suggestion was that the co-leader model be scrapped and each of the party’s three MPs be given responsibilities.

It would likely see Dr Sharples taking over within Parliament, Mr Flavell with the party’s grassroots and Mrs Turia sticking with Whanau Ora. Dr Sharples and Mrs Turia would retain their ministerial portfolios.

The best tweet on this idea came from Marcus Cook:

Breaking; Maori Party to trial having no leader. Cites Labour Party as example


Dr Sharples has repeatedly refused to step aside. “The bottom line is I’m prepared to lead us until I’m dead; I mean forever,” he said yesterday.

Not a useful statement. The best leaders are those who aim to achieve a few things during their time at the top, and help train up and mentor their successors.

Turia says Sharples should stand aside for Flavell

December 21st, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

This is a very significant story. Claire Trevett reports:

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has called on her fellow co-leader, Pita Sharples, to step down and hand over the reins to MP Te Ururoa Flavell, despite Dr Sharples’ plans to stand again in 2014.

And Mr Flavell is considering not standing again in 2014 if Dr Sharples does not give up the leadership, saying he is not sure whether he wants to wait around until 2017.

I think the writing is on the wall. Of course Sharples will be 73 at the next election.

Mrs Turia will stay on as a minister but is open to handing over the co-leadership earlier. This week she told Waatea News Dr Sharples should follow suit to make way for Mr Flavell – the natural successor for the leadership, who had been expected to take over by 2014 until Dr Sharples decided to stay on.

“The leadership role is not about being a minister,” Mrs Turia said. “Being the leader of a political movement is something quite different. There is absolutely nothing stopping Pita from continuing to be the minister.”

Here’s what I would do if I was the Maori Party.

  1. Have Flavell take over as co-leader from Sharples at some stage before the election
  2. Have Sharples continue as a Minister
  3. Line up the desired new co-leader to replace Turia to stand in Te Tai Hauauru.
  4. After the 2014 election, if Maori Party in position to be Ministers have Sharples and Flavell as Ministers.
  5. Have new female co-leader focus on party leadership, rather than being a Minister
  6. Line someone up to succeed Sharples in Tamaki Makauru in 2017.
  7. Have Sharples stand down as a Minister in 2016, allowing female co-leader to step up as a Minister

I regard Flavell as a smart parliamentary operator, and think he would be a very competent Minister.

Dom Post on Family Start providers

April 4th, 2012 at 9:03 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples needs to decide whose side he is on. Is it vulnerable children, many of them Maori, or is it the providers of social services, who have failed them?

His advocacy on behalf of five Maori organisations that have had lucrative Family Start contracts terminated by the Social Development Ministry suggests it is the latter.

The five – Te Roopu Awhina Family Start in Porirua, Turuki Health Care in Mangere, Papakura Marae, the Waipareira Trust and Te Ha o Te Whanau Trust in Opotiki – have been told they will not be funded to provide intensive home-based support to vulnerable families after June 30.

According to Dr Sharples the providers are the victims of “funding cuts” that will reduce the likelihood of positive change in communities with high and complex needs.

The claim does not withstand scrutiny. The providers have not had their contracts terminated because of a funding cut but because, in the words of the ministry’s head of Family and Community Services, Murray Edridge, they provided “inconsistent and, in some cases, unsafe social work practice to families”.

Good intentions are not enough. I’m mildly surprised to see the Waipareira Trust as one of those defunded as for many years it was held up as a model for integrated services.

Terminating the contracts of the five providers will not reduce the likelihood of positive change. It will increase it if the funding is picked up by any of the other 27 Family Start providers, who are delivering useful assistance to the 15 per cent of the population at greatest risk.


Dr Sharples has also accused the ministry of failing to communicate properly with the affected organisations. “For Maori organisations, it’s about kanohi ki te kanohi (talking face to face),” he told National Radio yesterday. That claim also appears to be of questionable merit. According to Mr Edridge and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, the ministry has bent over backwards to try to help the affected providers to come up to standard. Ms Bennett told Parliament yesterday that the Waipareira Trust alone had received 14 visits from the ministry since July last year. Mr Edridge says the failed providers could not have been in any doubt about the ministry’s concerns. All had received regular feedback that they were not meeting the standards required.

If anything, maybe the fair criticism isn’t the decision to defund, but that it has taken so long!

Rather than berating the ministry for being too tough on Maori organisations, he should be thanking it for looking out for those his party has pledged to represent – the most vulnerable members of society.

By doing so the ministry has acted not only to protect children but the reputation of the Whanau Ora scheme established at the behest of the Maori Party to promote Maori solutions to Maori problems.

Nothing will undermine public support for the scheme faster than evidence that money is being wasted or that ministers are turning a blind eye to non-performance.

Exactly. There will be providers from time to time who do not meet the standard required or are wasteful. The Government’s job is to act on those issues, not ignore them.

Charging for help

November 13th, 2011 at 8:14 am by David Farrar

David Fisher at HoS reports:

A key aide to a Government minister asked for money in an email that also discussed putting “political pressure” on an issue.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples’ electorate manager Martin Cooper wrote to a local property owner that he wanted money, then spoke of contacting a Government minister.

It led to a call for police to become involved after details were passed to Local Government Minister Rodney Hide.

Cooper named Hide as one of the people he planned to write to as part of a campaign of “political pressure”.

“I’ve never seen a more serious situation with anyone employed by Parliamentary Service,” Hide said.

I agree. If Cooper was an MP, he could be facing the sort of issues that Taito Philip Field did. As a parliamentary staffer his actions may not be illegal, but they certainly are grossly unethical. You do not and should not charge money for work you do, unless it is entirely in your own time and your own resources, and has nothing to do with your parliamentary job.

The Parliamentary Service should conduct an inquiry, regardless of the wishes of the MP he works for. They are the employer.

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.

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.

Editorials 30 March 2010

March 30th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald has advice for the Catholic Church:

A Vatican newspaper claims the hailstorm of allegations of priestly sexual abuse is a conspiracy aimed at the present Pope and the Catholic Church.

Ironically, it targets the “media” as leading or cheerleading this conspiracy, the New York Times being the latest to publish a historical claim, from up to 70 young, deaf boys who allege abuse by an American priest now dead.

It is unfortunate the messenger is being criticised rather than the message heeded. There is much still to be done for the church to put this sin behind it. …

Some calculate the total number of priests and the relatively small number of offenders over many years and then compare that to percentages for the secular world.

Their argument is that church-linked offending is no greater than the sad reality of society’s norm. But it is a forlorn and defensive mindset.

As the Economist magazine has argued, if you preach absolute moral values you will be judged against absolute moral standards.

The church cannot accept relative failure or relative consequences, particularly under this Pope who argues forcefully for an end to relativism.

If it is true to itself, the Catholic Church cannot be satisfied with being as good as, or not as bad as, other parts of society.

If any conspiracy exists, it is the one in which sexual offenders were protected and victims abandoned by those in authority.

A new conspiracy is needed, one which confirms in deeds the Pope’s words to the Irish. Responsibility must be taken by those who hid wrong.

I’m just glad I was raised Anglican!

The Dom Post focuses on the Mary-Anne Thompson affair:

The most alarming aspect of the Mary Anne Thompson affair is not that a senior public servant falsified her CV, but that the former head of the public service halted inquiries into her falsehood years before it was exposed.

This is the point I made a couple of days ago.

But within minutes of Mrs Bell questioning her about the doctorate she claimed to have obtained from the London School of Economics, Thompson withdrew her application for the post.

Mrs Bell undertook further investigations on her own initiative and advised Mr Wintringham that there was no record of Thompson gaining a doctorate. But, instead of initiating a formal investigation, Mr Wintringham told Mrs Bell to stop her inquiries.

He was, he subsequently said, concerned that further inquiries could “damage both the defendant’s considerable professional reputation and the reputation of the commission as well”.

He was right about the first. He was wrong about the second. What has damaged the commission’s reputation is not Thompson’s fraud, but Mr Wintringham’s failure to properly investigate a matter of obvious concern.

Really it was a disgraceful decision – and one made worse by his failure to even leave a file note on the issue for his successor. You’d expect better from the most junior HR manager, let alone the State Services Commissioner.

The Press hails a triumph for Obama:

The United States health reform controversy continues to swirl with such intensity that it is difficult to decipher the dispositions of the antagonists. However, one thing is sure – President Barack Obama has won his place in history, if only because of the health bill’s emergence into law.

No other president has pushed through such important reform in this field and most have not dared to try. Obama’s handling of the process was less than stellar and it has united his opponents, but the result is legislation that will transform a fundamental foundation of American society.

Hmmn. I wonder if they have read the law change. It isn’t that dramatic.

And the ODT takes issue with Pita Sharples:

The thrust of his speech clearly implied that for tribal Maori, democracy does not work and does not sit comfortably with Maori cultural concepts.

Historical fact suggests this argument does not wash in national politics, since Maori candidates have long been elected to general seats and the specific provision of Maori electorates has ensured at least a foothold in Parliament.

The notable absence of Maori at local body level has been regrettable, but why that is so cannot merely be attributed to “prejudice, cultural arrogance, and institutional racism”.

Relatively few people are aware that in Parliament, Maori are over-represented in relation to their proportion of the adult population.

So I find it hard to see how the democratic system is failing Maori.

Editorials 23 March 2010

March 23rd, 2010 at 12:20 pm by David Farrar

The Herald supports a new approach on whaling:

There comes a moment in intractable disputes when someone or something turns existing thinking upside down to reveal an altogether new approach to resolution. Upending the chess board, as it is known in some political circles, can unlock minds and banish stalemate. It was evident in the end of apartheid in South Africa and the troubles in Northern Ireland and in the change in fortunes for American troops in Iraq once some Sunni insurgents were co-opted to the general cause of peace. Domestically, the cross-party accord on the anti-smacking legislation removed that emotional political pit from the 2008 general election campaign. Now, a new way of Saving the Whales has emerged. …

For New Zealand to be party to an agreement which allows the hunting of whales by Japan, Iceland and Norway after two generations of bumper-sticker policy to the contrary is, superficially, preposterous. Yet if the end, rather than the means, is of real importance in this cause, then surely the status quo is equally preposterous. Whaling for “scientific research” would be one of the most offensive euphemisms and dangerous policy constructs in international affairs. In truth, the ability of New Zealand and allied nations to force Japan and others to stop their scientific lie, given the economic and diplomatic realities, is as depleted as the whale pods they seek to protect.

The Government should pursue the possibility of a qualified moratorium, one that could allow those of a nationalist whaling sentiment to save face while committing, over time, to stopping the barbarism. Either way, whales will die. But whole species could be saved.

Labour continues to support purity over practicality.

Both The Press and the Dom Post say Sharples is wrong. First The Press:

At regular intervals the Maori Party co-leader, Pita Sharples, makes statements guaranteed to raise the hackles of many New Zealanders.

His latest offering was to describe the principles of “one vote for one person” and “democratic elections” as artificial political concoctions. …

But to criticise cornerstones of our democratic system of governance does a disservice to the pioneers of electoral reform in Britain and New Zealand, especially as Sharples was speaking as Maori Affairs Minister and not as his party’s co-leader. Over centuries the franchise was widened until the present position was reached in which, with very few exceptions, all those 18 years and older have one vote, or two under MMP.

And the Dom Post:

Democracy (from the Greek demokratia) is an amalgam of two Greek terms: demos meaning people and kratia meaning power. It denotes government by the people or, literally, people power. It is a simple but incredibly powerful concept that has improved the quality of life of virtually everyone who has had the good fortune to be born into a state in which one person’s vote counts the same as every other person’s.

It is also a concept which millions, including New Zealanders, have given their lives to defend, and a concept that has to be defended against muddled thinking as well as evil doing.

Into that first category must be put Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples’ recent musings on the nature of democracy. According to Dr Sharples, the essence of democracy is not one person one vote, which he describes as an “artificial political concoction” but “goals towards equity … and inclusiveness”. …

Democracy is not simply one of many alternatives on a menu from which nations can choose with impunity. It is the only form of government that gives the meanest citizen the same power at the ballot box as the rich, the only system that has ever protected individual rights, the only system that ensures the peaceful transfer of power and the only system in which weak minorities have consistently been able to press their causes.

Hear hear.

And the ODT on the US and Israel:

While all these countries find much in common with Israel, and much to admire about it, its intransigence in the field of international relations is evidently a source of frustration and anxiety.

As much as Mr Obama is soft-pedalling in public over the recent spat, in private there is little doubt the Administration is furious.

The US desperately needs alliances, and sympathy, in the Middle East beyond its traditional bonds with Israel if it is to maintain pressure against Iran’s acquisition of the bomb.

One sure way it sees of achieving this is through making progress in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, an objective that, from time to time, seems to slip down Mr Netanyahu’s, and Israel’s, agenda.

Maori Party Leadership

October 17th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports on the organisational leadership of the Maori Party:

Maori Party president Whatarangi Winiata’s plans to retire from the post today appear to have been scuttled after several people within the party asked him to stay on.

Dr Winiata had announced his intention to stand down at today’s annual general meeting in Auckland.

He is two years through his three-year term, but had proposed resigning to allow his successor two years in the position before the next election.

Asked if he had changed his mind, he said he had been approached about it and would stay on if the membership decided it was the best option.

He would wait to hear what the meeting wanted before deciding.

The party’s co-president, retired Maori Land Court judge Heta Kenneth Kingston, was tipped to succeed him.

Dr Winiata has led the party wing of the Maori Party since it was formed in 2004 and having him stay on will help the party’s stability.

The party also has a challenge ahead with its parliamentary leadership. At the 2014 election, Turia will be 70, and Sharples 73. I would expect both will retire at that election.

That means they need to have their successors in place at the 2011 election, and they may struggle to find people of matching profile and mana nationally.

The most high profile current MP is Hone Harawira, but Hone is not seeking leadership and would be an unlikely one. Some say his wife Hilda would be an excellent Leader, but is Parliament ready for two Harawiras?

Te Ururoa Flavell is considered able to potentially step up if he lifts his profile in the next few years. But even if that happens, the Maori Party will still need a new female co-leader and unless they pick up the final two seats off Labour, no way to get them into Parliament in 2011.

Claire Trevett also has a very insightful article on the two current co-leaders and their strengths and weaknesses.

Finally co-operation not taxpayer funded competition

October 14th, 2009 at 3:12 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key has intervened in the rugby television rights row, issuing a directive that Maori TV will be the lead bidder.

In a major u-turn for the Government, Mr Key’s directive means the competing TVNZ bid backed by Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman will be taken off the table.

Mr Key and Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples today said Maori TV, TVNZ and TV3 were meeting in Auckland this afternoon to sort out the bid.

This sounds greatly preferable than having rival taxpayer-funded bids ratcheting the price up. A pity it has taken Prime Ministerial involvement to bring this about – it should have never gotten to this stage in the first place.

What a mess

October 14th, 2009 at 10:48 am by David Farrar

My God, the Rugby World Cup free to air rights issue is a mess, to put it kindly. A fiasco maybe.

I’m someone who actually is supportive of the ambition of Maori TV to be the free to air broadcaster. But the sticking point is the only 90% coverage. Having 10% of New Zealanders not able to get free to air coverage of the Rugby World Cup we are hosting was never going to be acceptable.

If Pita Sharples had talked to other Ministers on the (laudable) ambition for Maori TV, they may have been able to actually help with the bid, by asking the right questions. Instead, we now have two different parties in Government appearing to back competing bids by taxpayer funded stations.

So what do the media say. The Herald reports:

Maori TV chief executive Jim Mather says the channel will continue to fight the Government for the rights to screen the Rugby World Cup, and will use money from wealthy iwi and corporate groups to outbid it.

Well that I approve of!

IRB spokesman Ross Young said the board would be open to increased bids.

I bet they are. They must be laughing all the way to the bank.

The Herald understands the Government’s concern about Maori TV’s coverage relates to fears about small crowds at the tournament, already expected to make a $40 million loss.

The Government and Rugby Union can make money only from ticket sales, and are worried about how these would be affected without the hype TVNZ can generate.

Well then TVNZ should have put in a bigger bid initially – possibly with support from the Rugby Union.

But Mr Mather said this was “throwing Maori TV the crumbs” and there was little chance of it being involved. The value to Maori TV was in having the exclusive rights, requiring viewers to switch over, rather than staying behind the major networks.

And this is the big pay off for Maori TV. It can take years for people to get used to checking a channel out. A month of people swapping to Maori TV for the RWC would probably leave them with a lot more viewers after the cup.

So what is the so called Govt plan:

– TVNZ leads bid to show the 16 most important games live and free-to-air, backed by Government money.

– TVNZ will show six games – two of the All Blacks’ pool games, the semi-finals, final, and third/fourth play-off.

– TV3, which has put up some of its own money, will show six games – the two other All Blacks pool games, the semi-finals, final and third/fourth play-off.

If it wants, Maori TV can put up money and simulcast the games TVNZ and TV3 are showing. It can also show the balance of the 16 games that the networks do not want.

The challenge for Maori TV is how they can do a bid that covers more than 90% of NZ.

Patrick Gower writes:

Remember the utter shambles as the All Blacks bombed out of the last Rugby World Cup because they could not organise a simple drop-goal in Cardiff?

If the failure to do the strikingly obvious that day left you horrified, then best to cover your eyes before watching the Government’s bungling of the free-to-air television rights for the next Rugby World Cup. …

TVNZ’s involvement is necessary because it has the reach and numbers to hype up the tournament over the next two years and get people through the gates, with ticketing the only way the Government and Rugby Union can make money and stem losses.

Maori TV can offer unique cultural and language elements as well as the flexibility of scheduling to be able to show wall-to-wall coverage without having to break for regular programming like the nightly news.

Surely getting the two together as co-broadcasters months ago and bargaining with the IRB was the obvious solution?

That would have been nice.

Audrey Young chips in:

The political debacle over the Maori Television Service bid for Rugby World Cup coverage rights has soured relations between National and the Maori Party more than anything else in their one-year partnership.

Yep, and it was al avoidable if Ministers talked to each other earlier on.

The Herald editorial proclaims:

The saga of Maori Television’s bid for the Rugby World Cup’s free-to-air broadcasts has taken a bizarre turn with the Government’s decision to fund a higher bid by TVNZ. The International Rugby Board, seller of the broadcasting rights, must be wide-eyed in wonder and glee that it stands to gain from a contest between two bids financed by New Zealand taxpayers. …

But it has taken a quite disturbing degree of fright at the prospect of Maori Television winning the free-to-air rights. Certainly, the Government had a right to be aggrieved that its coalition partner, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, did not consult National ministers before approving $3 million from his department, Te Puni Kokiri, to finance the bid.

The general rule of thumb is you should consult your colleagues on anything you would expect to be consulted over.

But if the taxpayer must contribute, why not through Maori Television? It is building a strong presence as a public channel for ceremonial events such as Waitangi Day and Anzac Day. Its coverage of the funeral for Sir Howard Morrison was deeply admired by all who caught it. TVNZ seems no longer interested in this sort of occasion either.

Maori Television was offering World Cup commentaries in English and Maori, from familiar faces and new. It aimed to popularise some Maori phrases through the English telecast, meeting its state-funded mission. On recent evidence it would do a conscientious and fine job. Surely a free-to-air partnership can be forged that would meet all concerns and save the taxpayer this ridiculous double bid.

I agree.

And Tracy Watkins:

In effect, we’ve got government ministers bidding against each other – and ratcheting up the cost for taxpayers as a consequence – to suit their own political purposes.

On the one side is Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples who gave Maori TV the green light for a $3 million-plus bid in a nod to his Maori constituency.

On the other are senior ministers Bill English, Jonathan Coleman and Murray McCully, who’ve given TVNZ and TV3 a nod and a wink that the Government will step in with whatever it takes to win the bid over Maori TV – presumably after concluding that their own constituency won’t take kindly to having to tune into Maori TV to watch world cup games.

I don’t think that is the issue. If done in the right way, I think one could have got the Government quite supportive of the bid. The bigger issue is achieving greater than 90% coverage, and also using TV to boost ticket sales.

The script writers for Yes Minister couldn’t have come up with a more absurd plot.

It would be a great script!

Trevett’s Sharples Diaries

October 9th, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett reveals the diary this week of Pita Sharples:

Whooo-eee – it’s not all flags and mana enhancements in here today, I tell you. I forgot to tell John Key that my ministry was giving Maori TV $3 million to help it get the rights to the Rugby World Cup. All the teko has hit the kowhiuwhiu (fan) now! He’s nearly as angry as he was when I “announced” the government would sign the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I sent a staffer to gauge his mood at his weekly press conference. Apparently his eyes were as hard as unpolished pounamu. …

Labour Party MPs and Rodney Hide are kicking it in the guts now. Shane Jones reckons it’s a World Cup for Emissions Trading contra scheme. He thinks the money would be better used helping young Maori. Trevor Mallard thinks it should be used for junkets for people in New Zealand to go to the United Kingdom now and encourage them to come to New Zealand in 2011. I can see what Tau means about him now.

I remember Chris Carter pulled the old “they’re picking on me cos I’m gay” line about his travel costs and decide to try a similar tactic.

Then I remember it didn’t work out so well for him, so I sent out the press release under Te Ururoa’s name accusing everyone of being racist.

Chris rings me to applaud my tactics – he agrees it’s nothing to do with spending millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money and everything to do with institutionalised stereotypes. …

Luckily, Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia has come up with a new spin to help me out. It will be good for obesity because all those people who can’t get Maori TV won’t be sitting on their sofas watching rugby for weeks on end. The National Party’s communications team vetoes the press release – they say it belongs in the Melissa Lee Motorway Crime Prevention Theory file.

Very good.


October 9th, 2009 at 5:33 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Maori Party co-leaders wrote letters of support for Taito Phillip Field, saying he was a man of integrity who had made a major contribution to his community and pleading for it to be taken into account in his sentencing.

I’m very unimpressed. I don’t mind so much pointing out his contribution to the community (as 87 other people also did) as he had done some good, outside his offending.

But to label him a man of integrity is a very bad call. He is not. He was convicted of trying to pervert the court of justice. He lied to Noel Ingram QC. He pressured others to lie to Mr Ingram, and they did. He lied to the Police and he again tried to get others to lie to the Police. He manufactured fake documents and lied about them. He is many things, but he is not a man of integrity.

The letters were on parliamentary letterhead and sent as MPs and co-leaders rather than in their capacity as ministers.

Sadly I think their “loyalty” to a “cousin” has over-ridden common sense. As I said above, I don’t have a big issue with pointing out his community service but I suggest the co-leaders re-read the Ingram report before they label him a man of integrity.

Maori TV and the Rugby World Cup

October 3rd, 2009 at 8:50 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A taxpayer-funded Maori Television Service bid to screen free-to-air Rugby World Cup matches has been described as “plain stupid” by the Labour Party.

“It sets a precedent for an incoherent and almost unbelievable broadcasting policy,” Labour’s Rugby World Cup spokesman, Trevor Mallard, said yesterday.

“It would see public money used to up the bidding war and the coffers of the International Rugby Board will reap the benefits.”

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples is backing the $3 million bid, reported to be higher than those put in by TVNZ and TV3.

I share the discomfort that a taxpayer funded bid may be higher than what is commercially sensible.

However I can understand the rationale from the Maori TV point of view. If they did win the free to air rights for NZ for the Rugby World Cup, it will give them a huge increase in viewers, and they are probably calculating that they would keep a proportion of those new viewers once the Cup ends.

Overall I am not convinced though it is a justifiable investment, and TV3 especially would have the right to be very concerned that they are competing with a bidder that can draw down Government funding.

At least the cost is a small fraction of the millions wasted on the charter!

UPDATE: The NZ Herald editorial backs the Maori TV bid and ambition:

Te Puni Kokiri has backed other major Maori Television local programming initiatives without controversy. These have proved highly successful in extending the channel’s profile and viewership. So much so that more than two-thirds of Maori Television’s audience is now non-Maori. Sporting coverage, such as that of the Breakers in the Australian basketball league, has been part of the attraction. Everything suggests the channel would make a good fist of the World Cup.

Maori Party Leadership

September 11th, 2009 at 6:56 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is set to reverse her decision to retire at the next election and instead stay on to advance her political agenda.

Mrs Turia confirmed yesterday that she was “seriously reconsidering” her decision and discussing it with her family.

She announced her retirement at the last election, saying she would step down at the end of this term.

This is not totally surprising, nor unwelcome. As the Herald notes:

The Herald understands Mrs Turia’s goal is to see her whanau ora policy embedded.

Whanau ora would bring together funding from various Government departments – health, education, justice, housing, social welfare – and funnel it directly to families in need of state assistance, rather than separately through different bureaucracies.

Mrs Turia is raising her 8-year-old grandchild, so the pressure of working in Parliament is a consideration.

If she stays on, it will resolve the Maori Party’s leadership dilemma, with no clear successor in its ranks.

The lack of a clear successor is a real issue for the Maori Party.

By 2014, one would expect both Sharples and Turia to retire. Turia will be 70 and Sharples 73.

The three other Maori Party MPs are all good constituent MPs, but neither Flavell or Katene (at this stage) have a national profile. Hone Harawira does, but I imagine he would agree leadership would be too stifling to him.

So how does the Maori Party get into Parliament, a couple of MPs who can take over in 2014? They are most unlikely to get any List MPs in 2011. And I don’t expect any retirements from the three other constituency MPs.

Hence they need to get their future leaders to either enter in 2011 by winning one or both of the two Maori seats they do not hold. If Derek Fox finally won Ikaroa-Rawhiti, he would be a logical contender. Mind you he will be 64 in 2011 and 67 in 2014.

The other option is that you look for the future leaders to replace Turia and Sharples in their own seats. This means however they go straight into the leadership as new MPs, which could be challenging.

Peter Gibbons researches politics on Facebook

August 11th, 2009 at 7:46 am by Peter Gibbons

What if everything you knew about politics came from the internet?  What if people based their vote on which politician was the most popular on Facebook or Bebo?  It’s unlikely and a bit of a nightmare scenario really but on-line sources of information are becoming increasingly important for voters. 

To test my vague theory in New Zealand politics, I searched on Facebook for each party leader and examined the groups supporting and, in some cases opposing, them.  Here are the results:

John Key (National) – 14,388 supporters.  Interestingly the “I HEART John Key” and “Scientologists for John Key” groups have exactly the same number of members.  I’m presuming they are the same people.

Helen Clark (United Nations) – 5, 408 supporters.

Phil Goff (Labour) – 1,112 members of a group wanting him to be Prime Minister in 2011 and 3 in a quite different group who think he is a DILF.  Look up what it means at your peril.

Rodney Hide (Act) – 719 supporters.

Russel Norman (Green) – 567 supporters.  His on-line presence grew significantly when I spelled his first name correctly in the search field.

Metiria Turei (Green) – 339 supporters.

Winston Peters (Retired) – 236 supporters for Prime Minister, 11 supporters for next year’s Dancing with the Stars.  Both quite terrifying prospects really.

Jim Anderton (Progressive) – 17 supporters, much higher than expected.

Pita Sharples (Maori Party) – No Facebook groups supporting him but a couple which are worryingly opposed (and in apparent breach of Facebook policies).

Tariana Turia (Maori Party) – No Facebook groups supporting or opposing her.  There is one offering to be a support group for Mrs Turia going back to school but the tag is “just for fun – outlandish statements.”

Peter Dunne (United Future) – Mr Dunne does not have an official supporters group.  The group “I lost my phone drinking in London – numbers please!!! (Peter Dunne)” is almost certainly not him.  Peter Dunne does not strike me as the kind of man who, under any circumstances, would use three exclamation points.

The life and times of Pita Sharples

July 4th, 2009 at 11:34 am by David Farrar

The Weekend Herald has a lengthy profile of Pita Sharples. It is an interesting and complimentary read.

Espiner on Maori and Tertiary Education

June 22nd, 2009 at 9:30 am by David Farrar

Colin Espiner blogs:

None of which stops Sharples from trying, however, and nor should it. I know that he should as an Associate Education Minister toe the Government line, but personally I expect Sharples to be a passionate advocate for his people. As long as Key doesn’t actually agree to this hare-brained idea, I’m happy for Sharples to push it.

For one thing, it’s good to have a debate about the place of education in our society, and remind ourselves that it’s pretty much the only thing that is going to get us out of the economic backwater in which New Zealand now resides.

Education is part of it, yes.

And it’s true that Maori participation statistics in tertiary education are appalling, and something needs to be done about it.

They are not appalling. They are in fact far superior to any other ethnic group in NZ. I blogged a few days ago on this, and the Maori participation rate is 50% higher than the Pakeha rate. Possibly Colin meant to refer to university participation rates only, but the terms are not interchangeable.

And even the university participation rate is not “appalling” – it is 80% of the Pakeha rate. I think Colin is too used to just assuming Maori health and education statistics are “appalling”, without checking them out.

I just think Sharples has the wrong end of the stick. There’s little point letting more Maori into university if they are simply going to fail.

Here I agree.

A better question might be why so few Maori make the grade to get into university in the first place. And I suspect that can be traced all the way back through the school system to early childhood and the child’s parents. I’m sure Sharples would argue that is all the system’s fault, and perhaps part of it is. Though I think Maori could probably shoulder some of the blame as well.

And here I absolutely agree.

As I say, though, the debate is a needed one. Just recently Canterbury University vice-chancellor Rod Carr had a good serve at the Prime Minister for cutting funding in real terms to universities and polytechnics, and I think this issue is going to become a hot topic in the months to come.

Personally I would rather the Government put the additional $750 million it shovels into the health black hole every year into tertiary education instead. I reckon it would pay huge dividends.

But here I disagree. If I had $750 million to spend I would put the vast bulk of it into early childhood education, literacy and numeracy at primary school etc.

Maori and Tertiary Education

June 17th, 2009 at 7:24 pm by David Farrar

NZPA reports:

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples wants universities to consider open entry for Maori students.

He said in a speech last night Maori students had the lowest rate of progression from school to tertiary education of any ethnic group.

His actual speech is here. He also notes, correctly, that:

Maori participation in tertiary education is higher than for any other ethnic group – and that is something to celebrate.


This graph (from here) shows very clearly that since 1999 the tertiary participation rate has been higehr for Maori than non-Maori. In fact the rate if 50% higher for Maori than European.

Now Dr Sharples also said:

But – and it’s a big qualifier – much of this participation is at levels one to three on the National Qualifications Framework. All of us know the benefits of a bachelor level qualification – the second challenge, therefore, must be how to boost participation for Maori to higher levels of study.


Now Dr Sharples is right that Maori participation is very high at Levels 1 – 3. But as we can see Maori have a higher participation rate than non Maori at Levels 4 to 7 Certificates and Diplomas also. And even at Bachelors level the Maori rate is around 75% to 80% of the European rate.

Personally I think too many people are going to university rather than other forms of tertiary education. I would not hold up a Bachelors degree as the holy grail for tertary education.

Dr Sharples also said:

Thirdly, I want to suggest a quantum leap could be achieved, if Victoria were to consider the following:

– Open entry for Maori students. We have seen how the dice are loaded against Maori, right through the school system. That is not any reflection on the academic potential of our young people. Reserved places for Maori have proven the ability of Maori students to rise to the challenge if they are given the opportunity.

This makes me wonder what the completion rate is. And yes that has a graph also.


And as we can see here the completion rate for Maori is above average for Certificate and Diplomas but a lot lower for Bachelors. This to me suggests that open entry for Maori students would not by itself improve outcomes – it would probably just lower the completion rate even more. The key to improving the university participation rate for Maori, would in my opinion improve educational outcomes at secondary school.