The cold war for thousands of Waikato-Tainui voters has turned hot with tribal heavyweight turned Maori Party president Tukoroirangi Morgan accusing Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta of being a traitor.
The Maori Party president is labelling Labour Nanaia Mahuta’s call to open his personal finances to scrutiny as ‘desperate and misguided’.
It did seem rather desperate.
This is the same kupapa behaviour that the Pakeha colonists used so effectively against us 150 years ago,” Morgan said.
Kupapa were pro-government Maori who, in the mid-1800s, were paid to fight against other Maori the Crown branded as rebels. Despite the word meaning to take a ‘neutral’ position in a conflict, in modern usage, it is used to brand someone as a traitor.
Mahuta, Labour’s Hauraki-Waikato MP said Morgan is muddying the waters and confusing the core business of the tribe with politics.
There is a perception, she said, money earned by Morgan in his roles as spokesman for the Maori King Tuheitia, Kahui Ariki representative on the tribe’s governance arm Te Whakakitenga, and as a Tainui Group Holdings director is funding his party political work.
“The only way to fix this growing negative perception is for Tuku Morgan to disclose the honorariums and fees paid for the work he purports to undertake on the tribe’s behalf,” Mahuta said in her Friday statement.
She said that Morgan’s combined annual income was close to that of the Prime Minister.
Mahuta has some support in Tainui in fighting Morgan. Morgan is far from universally popular, but their problem is that he is appointed by the Maori King. Hence there are rumours that the only way to remove Morgan is to remove the Maori King. That could only be done by another member of the Royal Family, such as Princess Nanaia.
She said the charitable status of Waikato-Tainui could come under scrutiny.
“Someone’s footing the bill and it shouldn’t be the tribe,” she said.
A Party President is normally an unpaid volunteer. Is she saying Morgan should not be able to be a volunteer for the Maori Party because of his roles with Tainui?
Otago University political analyst Dr Bryce Edwards said Mahuta’s question is legitimate, although, “a bit rich” as all party presidents have jobs on the side.
The comments are an indication Mahuta is still smarting over Maori King Tuheitia’s Koroneihana speech in August, where he his pulled support from the Labour Party, Edwards said.
“It illustrates just how rattled she is over this king’s speech and what it all means. She is fighting back,” Edwards said.
And he’s sounding a warning – the battle for the Maori seats in the run to the 2017 election is going to be ugly.
“We are not going to see a lot of warmth between these players because there really is a fight to the death going on.”
The majorities in each Maori seat are:
- Hauraki-Waikato 7,695
- Ikaroa-Rāwhiti 4,673
- Waiariki 3,889
- Te Tai Tonga 3,554
- Te Tai Hauāuru 1,554
- Tāmaki Makaurau 1,462
- Te Tai Tokerau 743