Maori Party leadership lacking

Is three leaders more or less?

I have admired aspects of the Maori Party way. I think the way they consult with their constituents before making decisions on support or opposition to issues and policies is very good democratic practice – something other parties could learn from.

But all political systems have flaws. And mostly those flaws are related to personalities.

Tariana Turia tries to explain how their new leadership will work.

“It would be about people leading but only in very specific areas.

“Three people who would be carrying out particular roles in the interests of our people. We think that’s a very good solution.”

It may be a good solution for the three MPs wanting to retain or obtain leadership roles, but it looks very indecisive.

Turia is retiring at the next election but doesn’t want to let go of her position until then.

Pita Sharples seems to want to not let go of anything until he karks it, despite growing hints he is past his best in politics.

Te Ururoa Flavell has made his leadership ambitions clear, but there seems to be no clear way to the top.

The Maori Party may have more leaders, sort of, but it looks like less leadership, a (further) sign that they are losing focus and direction.

It’s getting crowded at the top of the Maori Party. Too many ariki, and no kaimahi.

Should Susan Devoy’s appointment be squashed?

I don’t know if Susan Devoy would make a good race relations commissioner or not, I know too little about her. I’m a bit of a maverick amongst bloggers, I don’t spend thirty seconds on Google and then rip in to a rant on topics or people I know little about.

I give the people who make appointments like this the benefit of the doubt unless there is good reason to criticise. And it can take time to evaluate, especially with appointments that seem to come out of left court.

Stuff give some opinions in Dame Susan: I have to be voice of reason.

Justice Minister Judith Collins, who appointed her, was firm that the right appointment had been made.

“She’s a very fair, honest and decent person, and frankly, she’s got a spine that I admire.”

If accurate that sounds like a good enough starting point.

Mana Party president Annette Sykes called for Dame Susan to be sacked for her “racist viewpoint”.

Passing the Sykes non-racist test would exclude many people, but I suspect Sykes would fail the test of many too.

What race is Devoy?

Dame Susan Devoy admits she is not yet in a position to make statements as the country’s race relations commissioner – she is not even sure whether she is part-Maori.

“It’s a long-held view that we are of Ngati Kahungunu descent. But that has never been proven in any births, deaths and marriages certificate,” she said, describing questions yesterday about her ethnicity as “awkward”.

“My mother’s name was Tui and if you saw her you would instantly think we were Maori … I think you’re as Maori as you feel.”

I had no idea she was possibly part-Maori. And I wonder if that matters.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples yesterday described the appointment as “fantastic” but his colleague Te Ururoa Flavell questioned whether it was appropriate, given her views on Waitangi Day.

Interesting contrast of opinion there. The Waitangi Day criticism has been prominent.

Yesterday she described Waitangi Day as “extraordinarily important” but “it isn’t New Zealand Day, is it?” she said.

That sounds perceptive to me, Waitangi Day is obviously important to some but many don’t see it as a New Zealand type of day. And ambivalence isn’t along racial lines, Otago Maori chose not to make a big thing of Waitangi Day this year.

There is more to Waitangi and New Zealand than some people wanting an annual soapbox.

“What I would like is to see New Zealand celebrate our national day [in a way] that is a celebration, and perhaps that might be my first role, my first job, sorting it out,” Dame Susan said, before insisting that it wasn’t a public issue and “I certainly won’t be making it one”.

It could be a good thing for her to sort out – perhaps by trying to reconcile a variety of views, but that might be too radical for Sykes.

She had never considered whether she was politically correct enough for the role, but it was “quite possible” she would continue to speak freely.

Being seen as “politically correct enough for the role” would be terrible criteria for the position – political correctness has become a corruption of broad views and understanding.

“But I think in this role I have to be the voice of reason … This is not a platform for me to voice my own views, it’s really to advocate on behalf of.”

That sounds like a reasonable approach to me. She must have said things like that in her job interview.

But I still don’t know enough to decide whether to offer a blogger bouquet or bollocking yet. I sometimes get accused of sitting on the fence, but I prefer to look at it as working out what the fence is made of – and for some reason blogger barbed wire reminds me of pricks and arses.

In any case I’m backing Devoy’s appointment, unless I see good reason it was flawed, and I haven’t seen anything convincing to suggest to me it is.

Four year term supported by most party leaders

At Waitangi today John Key floated the idea of a four year term. It’s obviously not new but it gave media the opportunity to check it out with other parties in attendance.

Key pushes for four-year terms

The Prime Minister is using his spotlight at Waitangi to push the idea of a fixed four-year term for the Government, and he’s got support from his political opponents.

The crowds at Waitangi are a good sounding board for politicians, so John Key’s using the event to push the boat out on this pet project of his – extending the Government’s reign to four years, with a fixed date.

“I think it makes a lot more sense to know when the date is and it makes a lot more sense to have it for four years,” he says.

But Mr Key would need either 75 percent support from MPs or the majority in a referendum.

Support from MPs would be easiest.

Opposition leader David Shearer says he agrees with the idea.

“In many ways it’s a very short period of time,” he says. “It’s too long in opposition I have to say!”

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples seems in favour.

“That’s probably a good idea too. You just seem to get started and bang, it’s election time,” he says.

And Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says she thinks the public would support the move.

“Most of the public agree it’s better for governments to have more time to implement policy rather than going from election to election.”

I don’t think Turei is correct on public agreement unless she knows something that’s not public knowledge. In 1990 69% opted to stick with three years.

Peter Dunne is definitely in favour, I asked him and he replied:

Yes, I do and the fixed Election Day

If their parties followed their lead that’s well over 75% (National plus Labour would be enough).

3News also asked Hone Harawira:

However Mana leader Hone Harawira isn’t convinced.

“As long as I’m not in Government I think it’s a ratshit idea,” he says.

That just leaves Winston and NZ First, but the numbers look favourable for four years.

But it looks like if this went to parliament it would stand a good chance of succeeding.

I also agree, three years seems too short for a Government. The first year is generally settling in and getting up to speed on policies and portfolios, and gathering information. Year two is cram time for implementing as much as possible. And year three is dominated by the election. A second middle year would make a big difference.

A common preference amongst the public is that the shorter the better in case the don’t like who is in Government. But it’s rare to have a one term government.

It can be presumed that a longer term would increase the chance of being rejected at the first re-election attempt, so four years would be shorter than six (two terms).

And it would be much harder to stay for a third term, so eight years is shorter than nine.

How likely and how soon? From NZ Herald’s Leaders support four year term:

The review began in 2010 and is being led by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples who have appointed an advisory panel to consider it. However, there is no report date, and Mr English told iwi leaders at Waitangi that “it will take as long as it takes”.

He said it would be some time before any recommendations were made – and even then the Government might not act on them if it could not secure widespread agreement.

Don’t hold your breath.


“Maori Party…dead or dying”

Interesting comments by ‘xtasy’ at The Standard on the Maori and Mana parties and their futures.

The Maori Party generally more or less appears to be a “dead” or “dying” party now.

Founded initially upon Tariana Turia leaving Labour, due to issues with their foreshore and seabed legislation, Sharples and others joined her to establish a party to seek redress from what Labour introduced into law, and a kind of “movement” was started.

The downfall of the Maori Party clearly started by going into a support agreement with a National led government, and to somehow at least passively “agree” to a range of controversial policies, naturally also to amend the law affecting foreshore and seabed matters.

But Maori Party members – repeatedly told by their elected MPs, that the agreement with Key and his National led government is good, necessary and will bring more benefits than being in opposition, have increasingly felt hood-winked.

Harawira brought on the challenges that arose through working with National and its other support parties. An internal rift developed, and Harawira left (or was forced to leave), to form Mana.

Mana is supposed to be a new, inclusive “Left Party”, but most know, it is primarily led and organised by and through Harawira and his closest supporters. Yet he always wishes to emphasize, that Mana stands for the rights of Mana PLUS others, e.g. Pakeha, negatively affected by bad right wing policies.

Maori Party support has dropped and they will struggle to get voted back into Parliament, since Tariana has announced her retreat. Sharples is just too much of an old power loving hanger-on now, as one must seriously question his ability to influence the decisions of the government he supports, and is member of as a Minister. Flavell made a challenge, but Maori Party leaders are too scared now to see it through.

Harawira made comments on National Radio this morning, basically admitting, that Mana is in a way the other Maori Party. He talked about working together, some form of alliance, or something in that direction. He also presented his interest as a “leader” for Maori interests.

There was suddenly not much talk about inclusiveness and Mana being more than just an “alternative Maori Party”.

Looking up their website tells you enough, how it is run and what the priority political emphasis and support base is:

It appears to be an “inclusive” party so far, through some images and presentation, but when looking closer, it becomes clearer to me, that Mana is primarily a party established by Harawira as “independent” MP for Tai Tokerau, who appears to have seen a need to try and boost membership and support by allowing in Minto, Bradford and a few others, to establish a wider set of leading members. Yet in polls it still struggles to get above the 1 per cent rate.

See also this newspaper article from the Northern Advocate:

So I feel, Harawira now has to come CLEAN, on what is ultimate mission is, where he stands, whether he really wants to be primarily a Maori leader, or to keep working on a more inclusive leftist party.

My suspicions are, he wants to be the former, as that is what he feels more passionate about.

Hence again, my conclusion is that not just is Labour in a situation where it is struggling to find a “new way” as a “left” or at least “left of centre” party, Mana is also about to fall to pieces, given Harawira’s newly revived true aspirations.

Maori Party will soon be “dead”, I would expect, at least no more than a party in a similar situation as ACT is in now.

From The Standard post Maori Party in terminal decline

Maori Mana merge?

An interesting tweet:

Mihingarangi Forbes ‏@Mihi_Forbes
Is there a Mana-Maori Party merger in the wind? Both Harawira and Sharples say it’s a possibility

The Maori Party are finding survival a challenge and their leadership transition is very muddled. Voter support for a Maori dedicated party is diminishing.

Harawira will have discovered that running a one MP party is very hard work and when on the fringe of the political spectrum prospects of gaining significant political power are very limited.

So a re-unification of Harawira and the Maori Party makes some sense.

But it complicates the leadership situation. Harawira would be likely to want to score some sort of leadership role as part of a merger deal, but Pita Sharples seems reluctant to let go and Te Ururoa Flavell seems anxious to further his political ambitions.

With Tariana Turia’s planned retirement that would leave a merge party very male dominant.


Harawira has avoided responsibility

Hone Harawira has ducked and dived and denied after his ‘house nigger’ comment, and hasn’t had the guts to take responsibility for making them. His original comments were:

Time John Key realised a few home truths like (1) he can tell his little house niggers what to do, but (2) the rest of us don’t give a shit for him or his opinions!

It was widely assumed he was referring to Maori Party MPs because at about the same time he made comments directly linking them…

Notice how John Key says none of his Maori MPs are allowed to go to the National Maori Hui on Water … and two minutes later Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples say that they’re not going. Not hard to see who’s the REAL leader of the Maori Party!


What’s the bet that Tari and Pete cop so much flak from Maori for saying that they’re not going to the hui on water – that they find some reason to change their mind and say they’re gonna go now (or send Te Ururoa). Knowing how the Maori Party works, they’ll have to clear it with John Key first though

He was very clear – in his own typed words – about linking Maori Party MPs to his attack. And since then he has denied this. He has said he was referring to. He claimed he meant he was referring to National’s Maori MPs. From Stuff:

“What’s that got to do with Tari and Pete?”

He said he was referring to National’s own Maori MPs; such as Paula Bennett, Tau Henare, Simon Bridges, Hekia Parata.

“You’ve got to be careful about trying to draw dots here… I made a very clear statement about John Key and the way that he treats his MPs.”

Felix Marwick’s interview with Harawira:

Marwick: Why did you choose the language that you did, I mean, I guess if you called them lapdogs which you’ve done in the past, I guess people would have understood.

Harawira: Be very careful here, I haven’t called anybody, who have I called anybody anything?

Marwick: You’ve called people house niggers on your Facebook page.

Harawira: Would you like to come to the quote there Felix, read it out, read it out.

Marwick: I’ll just bring it up…

Harawira: Sure, absolutely, I think the media needs to be really bloody clear here…

Marwick: Ok, I’ll read it back to you, and you can tell me the contect that it was in…

Harawira: Go on then, go on then…

Marwick: Where are we, has it been deleted?

Harawira: I didn’t delete it…

Marwick: Ah, it was there this morning, I’ll take it from the copy that we took this morning, where you said “Mr Key can tell his little house niggers what to do, but the rest of us don’t give a shit for his opinion”. Who were you referring to when you used the phrase ‘little house niggers”?

Harawira: Hang on, hang on, hang on, no, no, no, no, no, hang on, hang on hang on. You can’t make the assumption, name people that you think I’m talking about, I’m not about to play that game, this is a challenge to John Key, it’s time John Key realised a few home truths like (1) he can tell his little house niggers what to do, but (2) the rest of us don’t give a shit for him or his opinions, now anybody’s getting up in a big fuss and turning this into Hone’s accused so and so, and so and so, and so and so of being a house nigger.

Well the fact is I haven’t. I’ve accused John Key of treating people that way, and I don’t think, I don’t think that he should.

Marwick: How did you expect that comment to be interpreted then?

Harawira: Well I hope he gets pissed off about it, I hope that his Maori MPs don’t listen to him, and I hope they come to the hui, it’s a national hui for Maori on water, and they should come.

But Harawira kept linking the whole thing to Maori Party MPs, for example from 3 News:

“I’m glad that this has actually forced Pita to say he’s going to come, I’ll enjoy him being there. I’ll just say to Turi I never accused her of being that, and I don’t think she should read into it anymore then what was actually in the email.”

Harawira’s “little house niggers” comment was clearly associated with “Not hard to see who’s the REAL leader of the Maori Party!” and “Knowing how the Maori Party works, they’ll have to clear it with John Key first though”.

He knew it wouldn’t change John Key’s mind on anything – in fact this was timed when John Key was out of the country and out of the discussion.

Knowing how Harawira works this was a clear provocation directed at Sharples and Turia with the aim of shaming them into attending the water hui, because he thought they should attend.

Sharples has now said he will attend the hui, but the credibility of the hui has taken a battering.

And Harawira has been blatantly dishonest about his implications and intent.

Key did eventually get a chance to comment from Vladivostock:

“I know it’s Hone Harawira being Hone Harawira, but frankly I think he owes them an apology,” he says.

If Harawira was honourable he would apologise, but don’t expect it. He doesn’t have the guts to be up front about what he does,

And he’s likely to avoid responsibility for his abuse. Again. That’s Hone Harawira being Hone Harawira.

Simon Bardwell at TVNZ sums it up:

Harawira says he’s trying to make the point that Key acts towards his Maori MPs like a Southern plantation owner in the 1950s.

But the crucial word in that sentence is “like”. When you leave that word out, as Harawira did in his first post, you leave yourself wide open to the accusation that you used the term yourself.

Of course, just drawing such comparisons is odious enough to many people.

How strange to see the normally unrepentant MP looking for a get-out-clause to try and explain himself away.

That’s the sort of behaviour Harawira normally despises in other politicians.

It’s odd that Harawira would try and have us believe his explanation rather than either apologise, or even stand by his original comments – obnoxious as many people see them.

Race Relations Conciliator Joris de Bres called the post “dumb”. Many would agree.

But it’s his explanation afterwards that many will see as an insult – an insult to the intelligence.


One way racism

The water issue has stirred up emotions on both sides of the debate. One of these emotions is becoming highly charged due to one way racism.

Any perception of offence against Maori, manufactured or real, can become a major scandal, as John Key found out last week.

But abuse, intimidation, divisiveness and the like seems to be accepted as fair game when when directed at non-Maori.

This is apparent on blogs. I’ve been accused of racism twice over the weekend, on one occasion for stating agreement with Maori in At one with Māori on water.

There has been an example of reverse racism on The Standard last night. RedLogix posted this comment:

RedLogix 4.1.1

Maori are in effect via article two of the Treaty of Waitangi the only legitimate source of the granting of any consent to use any water from the rivers and lakes in their possession at the point of the signing of that treaty….

And all other land and resources in this country.

All you filthy colonising white maggot scum can crawl back to the slums you came from now.

(Maybe I should add a tag to this one, but for the life of me I can’t think which one…)

The final comment on tags was a wink signal to people who know RedLogix. But this was a flimsy excuse for posting what he knew would be a politically and racially divisive comment.

Support from others at The Standard was not surprising. Marty Mars, one who accused me of racism, laughed it off as a joke.

marty mars

LOL pete you need to take a break from the webs

And a Labour Party official…


Yeah.  The theft of lands and forests and waterways and fisheries are immaterial but use a couple of cross words and there is hell to pay.

There are a lot of people, many of them reasonable and tolerant types, who are getting very annoyed at what is little more than one way reverse racism. Supposedly we dare not criticise or denigrate anything Maori, but are supposed to meekly accept any crap thrown at us.

I don’t accept this.

We should be working on building better tolerance and understanding of Maori issues, and this has to be (as Pita Sharples has said) “bridging relationships across Treaty partners”. A two way bridge.
Trying to drive a racial wedge for political purposes is not satire, it’s deliberate. And I believe it’s wrong.

Honouring our ancestors, leading with our hearts

By Dr. Pita R Sharples

‘Intergenerational’ is a word you often hear roll from the lips of our tangata whenua leaders. We work hard to honour the labours of our ancestors, while also building on their vision for our future generations. Those of us here and now are a part of a bigger picture that spans many generations, and are working in what we view as a truly intergenerational whanau approach.

So when the Waitangi Tribunal came into focus this week, after comments made by the Prime Minister that seemed to dismiss the value of this institution, it hit a nerve. You see, the Waitangi Tribunal is more than a place where Maori can go to have their cases heard, it is a place where our people relive the mamae and pouritanga of the past, and ultimately seek to have that burden lifted from our shoulders.

The hearings are a place to hear the stories of colonisation, and how they have impacted on our whanau, hapu and iwi. Some stories are so painful that they rarely escape the lips of our pakeke. You also hear about the brave endeavours of our tupuna and their hard work to seek a simple concept – true honouring of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

When our tupuna have suffered you cannot help but be profoundly moved by the depth of the grief that lingers on. Their pain is our pain, their joy is our joy, so when you move through a process of grieving, of airing, and finally of lifting of the mamae – it is a powerful experience. So powerful that it can change the course of entire communities, and you need only look at post-settled iwi to see how that transformation occurs. What we seek in the hearings of the Tribunal is not about money, it is about relationships and respect, it is about acknowledgement of past wrongs, in the hope that we can move forward.

So when you diminish one of the primary mechanisms that allow our people to grieve and to heal, you are also diminishing the memory of our ancestors – and that hurts. That’s what being intergenerational means.

While much of the focus this week has been on the water claims, the sale of mixed ownership model companies and the Tribunal – the real question on my lips is ‘Why, after more than 150 years, are we still having to explain our connection to our lands, waters, language, culture and taonga?’

I think the problem here is much larger than this one case, in this one week. The issue is a wider misunderstanding of what tangata whenua are trying to achieve through Treaty claim processes. I also think that while we have come so far as a nation, there is still a lingering attitude towards Maori rights, consultation, and ultimately Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

This week has been hard on us, and the strength of emotion around our relationship to water, our right to have our grievances heard, and the legacy of our ancestors has put a heavy weight on our shoulders.

But we persevere because we know that we have a duty to the next generation to ensure that their load will be lighter than ours. Our focus should be on addressing the barriers that stand in the way of true partnership, meaningful relationships, and respect between our cultures.

That is why initiatives such as the constitutional review, cultural competency training and Whanau Ora are of critical importance. It is about an investment into building a better future for our next generation. It is also an investment into bridging relationships across Treaty partners. If there is anything that I hope that we can take away from this week, it is the knowledge that tangata whenua do have a deep connection with the taonga around us, that we do value the processes which allows us to grieve and to heal and, ultimately, that we are prepared to stand up for what sits in our heart.

Those of us in the Maori Party cannot divorce ourselves from our identity as tangata whenua. It is an intrinsic part of who we are and it will always be our hearts that guide our work and our voice in parliament.

Dr. Pita R Sharples is Co-Leader of the Maori Party and MP for Tamaki Makaurau

Sourced from:

Leaders on water ownership

John Key (National)

“The Government’s very firm view is that no-one owns water: we certainly don’t believe Maori own water; we don’t believe they own the airways, air or sea.”

David Shearer (Labour):

“Nobody owns water. We pay for water rights to use water, whether it be for irrigation or hydroelectricity or whatever,” he says—Labour/tabid/418/articleID/260890/Default.aspx

Pita Sharples (Maori Party)

“In one sense Maori own the water because of our whakapapa, our relationship with the environment, the forests, the mountains […] it’s part of our genealogy to be connected and our concept of ownership is not exclusive, it does not cut anyone else of ownership, it’s an obligation to use and look after,” he says.

Dr Sharples says the Government has regulatory ownership of land, “so in some ways the Government acts like the owner” and says disputes about ownership have a wide-ranging definition.
(to get a better understanding it’s worth listening to the whole interview)

Peter Dunne (United Future)

Maori freshwater claims beg question of who owns the rain? Water and air belong to all of us, equally and indivisibly.

See also: Who owns the rain?

Green Party (policy)

We would keep key decisions about urban water supply, assets and operations under the control of elected bodies and protect New Zealanders’ right to access a safe and secure supply of high quality, affordable water for drinking and sanitation.

(More to add as they are found)

Who owns the rain?

Peter Dunne addresses this on Twitter:

Maori freshwater claims beg question of who owns the rain? Water and air belong to all of us, equally and indivisibly.

In a seemingly conciliatory interview on Firstline this morning Pita Sharples seemed to be suggesting something similar (not online yet).

The issue of who owns water is not new. From Dunne:

“They say what comes around goes around. Here is a comment I made in March 2007 on this very issue:”


United Future leader Peter Dunne says that claims by Maori Party that Maori have customary rights over fresh water go beyond what is acceptable to most Kiwis.

“The Maori Party appears to be asserting Maori rights to all New Zealand’s natural resources, the things we have in common.

“That will be a step too far for most New Zealanders.

“The fresh water claim simply begs the question, ‘Who owns the rain?’, and shows the absurdity of the position being adopted,” he says.

Mr Dunne says the fresh water argument raises again the concept of public domain which United Future tried unsuccessfully to have included in the original Foreshore and Seabed Act.

“Natural resources like air and water belong to all New Zealanders, and it is the Crown’s responsibility to exercise that ownership equally and fairly on our behalf,” he says.

“I would say the same thing today.”


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