Insight into Māori politics

There is a very good insight into politics Māori style by Morgan Godfery at The Spinoff: Behold, Māori politics’ great realignment. Or, don’t believe the hype

Talk of a resurgent Mana Party, unshackled from Dotcom and buoyed by a Māori Party pact, has prompted suggestions of a new order in Māori politics. Morgan Godfery explains why he’s just not buying it

The Parekura Method:

Take Te Tai Tonga, the old Southern Māori seat, running from Petone in the North to Stewart Island in the south and then tracking east to the Chatham Islands. In physical terms, Labour’s Rino Tirikatene is responsible for representing more than half of the country.

In population terms, Te Tai Tonga is more or less the same size as any other electorate. But the social expectations of a Māori MP are different to what other New Zealanders might expect of their constituency MP. When the Kaikōura earthquake struck Rino Tirikatene took the first trip down to help out in the kitchens at Takahanga Marae.

The term for this is kanohi kitea – a tricky one with a double meaning. In the past the term meant raid or incursion of some kind, but today we use it to describe someone who’s seen. It’s not enough for Māori electorate MPs to deliver magnificent speeches on the latest bill before the House. It isn’t even enough to make the Cabinet. Instead you must show up at every birthday, tangi, community fair and prizegiving that you can.

When I interned for the late Parekura Horomia, the former Minister of Māori Affairs and the long-serving MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, we called it (behind his back) “the Parekura Method”. It wasn’t uncommon for Parekura to arrive on your doorstep unannounced, and for no other reason than he was in town and wanted to catch up. It usually takes seven hours to drive from Wellington to Mangatuna, but it usually took Parekura more than two days.

Based on history:

Sir Peter Buck was a professor of anthropology at Yale University, a medical doctor in the Middle East, a museum director in Hawai’i, and an accidental Māori MP after Hone Heke – the member for Northern Māori – died suddenly in 1909. After escorting Heke’s body back to his ancestral marae in Kaikohe, Buck’s mentor and the deputy Prime Minister Sir James Carroll took to his feet at the tangi and announced how Heke’s mother wished to “marry their son’s widow to a chief from the South”, a tribute to Buck for taking the punishing journey from Wellington and returning her son home.

There are excited whispers and Carroll senses his chance. He remains on his feet, wielding his tremendous mana on Buck’s behalf, and gently reminds the local tribes that Buck is now in credit and a debt is owed. Utu, or reciprocity, is due. Should they wish to restore balance perhaps they would consider Buck as their new MP (Carroll did this without consulting him, of course). Buck went on to win handily, even though he faced several local challengers and traced his whakapapa further south.

It’s the kind of thing that could only happen in Māori politics and it’s one reason political commentators often assume Māori politics adheres to a kind of tribal logic.

These examples are related to the current battle over Māori seats between the Māori Prty with Mana, and Labour. Interesting insights.

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17 Comments

  1. Klik Bate

     /  30th November 2016

    @ 2:50pm

    Reply
  2. PDB

     /  30th November 2016

    Sir Peter Buck was a great role model & leader, not only for Maori but for all New Zealanders.

    A person of his standing is what Maori need now, not the Hone Harawira’s of the world.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  30th November 2016

      pakeha could do with another Norman Kirk…as well.NZ’ers,I mean nu zilders are stuck with yanKey doodle dandy.

      Reply
    • @ PDB – “Sir Peter Buck was a great role model & leader, not only for Maori but for all New Zealanders.”

      One of many … Te Rauparaha, Te Wherowhero, Te Whiti o Rongomai, Tohu, Rewi Maniapoto, Tawhiao, Apirana Ngata, Sir James Henare, Matiu Rata, Joe Hawke … and many thousands more … the list goes on and on and on … [and do our children get taught about them?]

      Te Rangi Hiroa/Sir Peter Buck was perfect for his times, in his historical context …

      Since the so-called Maori rennaissance things have changed. Today, by contrast, Maori can seriously investigate and discuss the possibility of a whole new model of more genuinely bicultural, collaborative, ‘partnership’ [and multicultural] government for this country, Aotearoa New Zealand, as per Matike Mai Aotearoa Report into Constitutional Transformation …

      Reply
  3. Blazer, you must be a masochist because of the way you disparage anything that does not fit your rabid global view that attributes all of the global ills to the US. We live in New Zealand mate and are not US sycophants. Kirk is dead and not replicable, but you can live in the past if you want, meantime we will get on and enjoy life without trading biased insults, You must have nightmares about a further 3 years of Key outcomes.

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  30th November 2016

      But Blazer is a *ahem**cough* PROGRESSIVE………….

      Reply
    • patupaiarehe

       /  30th November 2016

      You must have nightmares about a further 3 years of Key outcomes.

      I suspect not, coz Blazer knows as well as I do, that it ain’t gonna happen…

      Reply
      • patupaiarehe

         /  30th November 2016

        If the ‘lazythumber’ could tell me why I am wrong, that would be great…

        Reply
    • Blazer

       /  1st December 2016

      we are, especially under this admin a U.S satellite Col.John Kerry re foreign policy…’when it comes to NZ…we don’t even need to ask’!The U.S secret service is always down here and we kowtow to the U.S.As you know ,Key is ex Fed and Wall St.Remember former leader Brash…’gone by …lunchtime’.

      Reply
  4. PP it is difficult to see you through the mountain mists some times but I really would like to know what special insight you bring to who is going to win the next election. I accept that Blazer will never concede a Labours lost, but I thought you had some gifted insights we need to know.

    Reply
  5. Blazer, I actually do believe New Zealanders are capable of making their own minds up based on real evidence. To infer from the visit of a representative of a friendly country that we are subjugated to the friend’s foreign policy stance is absolute crap. Our representatives talk to representatives of all countries that we recognise diplomatically, and a few that we do not have formal diplomatic relations with. The process that is followed is to identify what foreign policy stance is in the best national interests of New Zealand taking into account our history, our present and our future needs as a nation state. Because we are a small state we have to look towards increasing out visibility on the world stage by using what we called in the Armed Forces ” Force Multipliers” you may wish to Google the expression if you don’t understand what it implies. The call by our Foreign Minister in the UN ,a couple of days ago, is a good example as it was not just NZ calling for a ceasefire in Syria, but other small and middle powers like Spain. That call to the UN was directed at the main actors in the Syrian conflict like the US, Russia, Lybia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. Now try and tell me our government is a toady to the US! Remember NZ was first off the rank for FTA with China who is in conflict trade and diplomatically with the US. I know I am urinating in the direction of the wind as far as persuading you that our Government’s policies are invariably considered in the context of what is the best for New Zealand. I can sleep well at nihjt.

    Reply

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