Half arsed apology, Ardern ‘reins in’ MPs, but Willie Jackson ‘hits back’

Labour list MP Willie Jackson remains defiant despite a half arsed apology, after he was criticised for questioning how Māori Paula Bennett is. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was reported to have reined him in, but instead Jackson has ‘hit back’.

For background see Labour Maori versus Paula Bennett continues.

Jaskson was interviewed on RNZ yesterday morning where he apologised to those who he may have offended (that is, a half arsed insincere apology) – Jackson sorry for offence after Māori comments (audio):

Employment Minister Willie Jackson has sparked a heated debate about which MPs are allowed to identify as Maori. Mr Jackson called National MP Paula Bennett’s heritage into question, saying she doesn’t know from one day to the next whether she’s Maori. National’s Paula Bennett says she’s identified as Maori since she was born, and the comments made in the House went too far.

Jacinda Ardern got involved – Prime Minister reins in MPs over attacks on Paula Bennett’s Māori heritage

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reined in two of her Ministers for getting personal about Paula Bennett’s Māori heritage.

A very public slanging match erupted this week when three senior Māori members of the coalition government went on the attack against the National Party deputy leader and her whakapapa.

Mrs Bennett described it as a “racist attack” and out of sync with Ms Ardern’s attempts to make Parliament a kinder place.

She said the rhetoric from senior Māori Ministers doesn’t gel at all with what Ms Ardern has been saying she wants to change about politics.

“So we have a prime minister who is constantly saying that she wants to change the way that Parliament is and how Parliamentarians treat each other, and she now has senior Māori ministers going out there and categorising other MPs as not being Māori enough, and I don’t think that gels at all with the kind of Parliament that she’s trying to create,” Mrs Bennett said.

The comments spilled into Question Time on Thursday when Mrs Bennett bit back using Mr Jackson’s Mana in Mahi youth employment programme to ask him whether you needed Māori-sounding surname to participate or would he be telling people with the name Bidois that they should go back to Italy.

That prompted deputy prime minister Winston Peters to go into bat for Mr Jackson.

Then Whanau Ora Minister Peeni Henare also joined in.

Mr Jackson walked back his comments somewhat on RNZ this morning, saying his point was that Mrs Bennett didn’t support National MPs like Nuk Korako who do contribute to kaupapa Māori.

“Of course she’s Māori, I’ve never said that she’s not Māori. I said in Question Time yesterday that she whakapapa’s Māori, how you identify with being Māori is by your whakapapa – is Paula Māori? One hundred percent.

“So she’s twisted this and spun it and she’s got away from the real deal here, which is her reluctance and her non-support of a tremendous Māori MP who has advocated kaupapa Māori and te reo Māori everyday,” Mr Jackson said.

Jackson is the one twisting things. More about that soon.

“I think the point he raised was valid and raised in only the way Willie can. And my experience and upbringing tells me whakapapa certainly is one thing but if we look at what makes a Māori through a Pakeha lense then we’re only looking at either a classification or a blood quantum and what i’m saying is that is one part of it but there’s so much more to being a Māori,” Mr Henare told Radio Waatea.

This is disappointing from Henare. Surely being Māori is different for different people, and so it should be.

The Prime Minister has had to go into damage control.

A spokesperson said while the Prime Minister understood her MPs’ desire to hold all members to account on the work they do for their local communities, she has an expectation that this doesn’t become personal.

The Prime Minister didn’t respond to questions about whether she had spoken to her ministers and what message she had passed on.

So despite the headline there is no sign of Ardern reining in anyone.

And Jackson is not acting reined in. He posted at The Daily Blog yesterday: Willie Jackson hits back

Well what a busy last couple of days I’ve had in the House. Yesterday after supporting International Worker’s Day (May Day), I decided to attack the Māori MPs in National in my General Debate.

The main reason I did that was because they have showed very little support for a fine man and good Māori advocate, Nuk Korako, who resigned because he was basically sick and tired of the zero support he would get for Māori issues.

I called some of the National MPs useless and singled out Jo Hayes, Simon Bridges, Dan Bidois and Paula Bennett – I make no apologies for calling them useless. When you’re in the Chamber, particularly in the General Debate, it’s all on and you take no prisoners. That’s how it’s always been and you can either handle it or not.

That’s not how it’s always been for all MPs, Some like Jackson seem to think it gives them licence to launch over the top attacks, but most MPs manage to not launch outlandish attacks.

She is trying to spin the line that I don’t think she’s Māori which is not what I said in my speech – I said some days she’s Māori and some days she’s not, and that’s an undeniable fact.

What Jacksons thinks Bennett may think on a day to day basis is obviously not factual, it’s his opinion. He can’t know how she thinks.

And what he claims he said in Parliament is inaccurate. He said” Paula Bennett, well, she doesn’t know if she’s a Māori, some day’s she does and some days she doesn’t”.

Again, not facts, just assertions, he cannot know  what he claimed.

“has she ever advocated for Māori; has she ever taken a pro-Māori stance or a Kaupapa Māori stance – and the answer to that is unequivocally no.”

I think that that claim is unequivocally false.

The National Government that Paula Bennett was a part of took a number of pro-Māori stances. Leading ‘significant policies’ at Fifth National Government of New Zealand (Wikipedia):

Treaty of Waitangi/Settlements

The involvement of the National government within this particular area was seen through their approach in settlements. National government’s involvement of Treaty affairs:

  • Ngai Tuhoe deed of settlement[1]

These involved discussion and planning of guidelines which were negotiated with two significant iwis of Taranaki. This also involved Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson.

  • Apology to affiliate Te Arawa[2]

In relation to past Treaty breaches and the actions of the previous governments at the time of the land wars. John Key apologized for the actions and doings of the abuses to the Te Arawa iwi and hapu.

  • Negotiation with Te Atiawa and Taranaki iwi[3]

Through the nine years of government Key/English/Bennett worked with the Māori Party on many policies, bills and initiatives advocating for Māori interests.

Māori Party: OUR ACHIEVEMENTS (Just some of our achievements from October 2008 to June 2017)

The Māori Party has influenced more than $3 billion for kaupapa Māori initiatives and almost $3 billion for all New Zealanders.

They detail a number of achievements while in Government with National. They could only have done that with the support of National, including the support of Bennett.

I’m not a fan of Bennett, but I think that Jackson is wide of the mark with these ongoing attacks on her. Also Peters (not surprising from him) and Henare (I thought he was better than this).

In particular, it’s getting dirty questioning someone else’s ethnicity, whakapapa, and their authenticity. Bennett is correct saying this is a form of racism.


Leave a comment


  1. Gerrit

     /  4th May 2019

    Ardern still looking weak. Though her engagement to the nations first baby’s father is taking the string out of the racist attacks from her Maori caucus.

    Note stuff has nothing on this fracas in their paper, just hit pieces on Collins and National to deflect this racist attitude from the governments (NZFirst and Labour) Maori faction.

    Expect Arderns wedding about August 2020 to smooth troubled waters for Labour.

    She is so totally out of her depth as commander of her ministers.

    • I would be very surprised (and disappointed) if Ardern uses her marriage to try to score campaign points.

      I expect a wedding over the summer break either this year or next year. Maybe that’s wishful thinking with most of the media on holiday, but it would be practical.

      I don’t think the engagement is a big deal – when people have been living together and having kids together it’s more of a confirmation than a big step into the future.

      • Gerrit

         /  4th May 2019

        Totally disagree. Ardern is a very good media junky and ALL she has going for her is an innate ability deflecting media attention from problems within the government.

        Baby is trotted out at convenient times, as is this engagement and as will be her wedding.

        She is manipulating the media, or (if she is not smart enough) someone is controlling her media exposure.

        Feel a tiny (real tiny) bit sorry for her as she is totally controlled by NZ First and now the Labour Maori caucus. Not helped at all at being the ministerial commander by a, weak as a yellow stream of water, Labour caucus. Who needs enemies when you have Twyford on board.

        • Conspiratoor

           /  4th May 2019

          In the well documented ‘transforming of Helen Clark’, Brian Edwards told her if she was to stand any chance in politics she would need to marry Peter. Long time ago sure and a very different political climate but I wonder if Helen has passed the same advice to her successor

          Watch for a wedding timed to perfection in the lead up to the next election. National are rooted

          • Kimbo

             /  4th May 2019

            Not sure you are right about Brian Edwards – whose own campaign to win the Miramar seat for Labour in 1972 was undermined by a story about his unmarried partner appearing in Truth. That may have indeed have had an effect as it was one of the few marginals (along with a number of supposedly safe National seats) that did not fall in the Norman Kirk landslide of that year. But Edwards only began to interact professionally with Clark in the mid-1990s I think, when her poll ratings were dire.

            Instead, it was primarily then-Labour Party President Jim Anderton who forced Clark and Peter Davis into a form of shotgun wedding when she was first nominated as the Labour candidate for the Mt Albert electorate in 1981. She recounted that she went through her marriage service crying!

            Not sure she was ever in danger of losing the election race. Indeed Mt Albert had always voted Labour and she ended up inheriting the seat from Wareen Freer who had held it since 1947. But probably Anderton was so risk averse and afraid that conservative voters in other electorates would be scared off by the likes of Muldoon talking of an unmarried liberal Labour candidate cohabiting or, as in the case of Fran Wilde (who took Wellington Central off National that year), a solo mum. And National did end up winning a very tight election that year, although the law-and-order aspect of the just-completed Springbok tour and National’s “Think Big” were likely the decisive issues in the key electorates of New Plymouth, Gisborne and Taupo.

            Clark always thought subsequently that a dirty campaign targeting her alleged lesbianism and fake marriage was waged against her all her career, starting in that 1981 election. So maybe Anderton forcing the issue made things more difficult for her and Labour in the long run. But by the late 1970s and early 1980s social attitudes were changing anyway, and legislation (such as Fran Wilde’s Homosexual Decriminalisation Bill) began to catch up with that when the Fourth Labour Government was elected in 1984…

            • Conspiratoor

               /  4th May 2019

              Good background, I stand corrected

              It was that wily old fox gentleman Jim whose own aspirations were rudely interrupted by a seismic shift in the earths crust

            • Gezza

               /  4th May 2019

              Jeezus, c, mon ami. If you didn’t know it was Anderton who made Helen cry at her own wedding that she didn’t want, you should really sit youself at the back of the room & wear a conical hat for an hour!

            • Conspiratoor

               /  4th May 2019

              Uppercut duly delivered G. I do however recall Helen’s public meltdown at Waitangi at the hands of a vicious old crone

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  4th May 2019

              Not marrying the mother of the baby would have been the end of a man’s career not that long ago.

  2. Duker

     /  4th May 2019

    Simon Bridges on his maori ethnicity
    “This heritage hasn’t been part of his ‘brand’ to date, and he said he didn’t expect that to change.” I see ….its only something to be trotted out when important.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  4th May 2019

      What a distorted view that is.

      He doesn’t parade it all the time as if it’s a great achievement.

    • John

       /  4th May 2019

      Duker, the interesting thing about Bridges and Bennett is that they refer to Maori as “they” and “them”, not “we” and “us”.

  3. Ray

     /  4th May 2019

    Motor mouth Jackson seems to have forgotten that Hansard records the words spoken and his rewriting of history just isn’t going to fly.
    This whole thing makes the PM look weak and supportive of racist statements because calling into question a persons Māori heritage definitely is.

    Just wondering if anyone has ever seen Willie out the back of the wharenui doing real work.

    Te amorangi ki mua, te hapai o ki muri

    The leader at the front and the workers behind the scenes both are equal and needed

  4. Seeing as a definition for being “maori” is so difficult and contentious I’ve made an executive decision to proscribe the word and the notion. From now on we are one people whatever our colour and heritage. I’ll get Don to advise the Waitangi Commission of the decision and have them disestablish themselves.

  5. Gezza

     /  4th May 2019

    What has Willie Jackson even achieved since becoming a Minister under Arden?

    I just went to the Labour Party “Our Team” website, and clicked on:

    1st, Kelvin Davis (I also then clicked on the “See more” button)

    then to Willie Jackson (an eye opener; & there is no “See more” button)

    I’ve got a lot of respect for Kelvin. He may have the odd stumble now & then & he’s not the sharpest pick for Deputy Labour leader. That was obviously a political appointment to acknowledge the Maori electorate’s importance & keep the Maori vote. Grant needs to tell him what to say when he’s in that role & not on a marae, where he’s in his element.

    But there’s no doubt that Kelvin does the hard yards & has Ministerial skills & ability. Willie seems to me to be nothing much more than a big mouthed smart-arse who doesn’t even have back bench skills, let alone Ministerial ones.

    • Gezza

       /  4th May 2019


    • Gezza

       /  4th May 2019

      Mind you, even those press releases from Kelvin end in September 2017! :/

      Who updates (or fails to update) the Labour Party’s website?

    • Pink David

       /  4th May 2019

      “What has Willie Jackson even achieved since becoming a Minister under Arden?”

      A nicely increasing bank account?

      • Duker

         /  4th May 2019

        Doubt it…he runs various businesses, enough to send his kids to Kings

        • Pink David

           /  4th May 2019

          So you think that his ministerial salary, on top of his various businesses has not resulted in a nicely increasing bank account.

          I’m now curious as to what Willy is doing with all the cash. Are the fees at King’s really that much?

    • Gezza

       /  4th May 2019

      Aw … ok, maybe I was a bit unfair there. I just googled their names & “press releases”

      These came up on the Beehive.gov.nz website. Willie gets around more than I realised.



  6. Griff.

     /  4th May 2019

    You can be a maori only if the maori mafia approve of your views.
    Bullshite by those who seek privilege from their race.
    The majority of those with maori ancestry, do not vote on the maori roll, do not identify with the treaty graspers and just get on with their life’s as Kiwis.
    Does that make them less maori?

  7. Corky

     /  4th May 2019

    Hmmm, welcome to the marae, Jacinda…please sit at the back with Josie Bullock. The men will take over..,thanks.

  8. duperez

     /  4th May 2019

    When John Tamihere and Willie Jackson were in Parliament years back, at times they showed they were more suited to being on controversy radio rather than the world they were in.

    Jackson seems to have come back thinking the world has changed enough for it to actually now be in step with the way he operates.

    He could get really up to date by investing in a Political GPS but then again he’d probably say he doesn’t need one, the old ways are best, he knows how to play the game.

    Funny thing though, drilling holes in the bottom of the waka is timeless.

  1. Half arsed apology, Ardern ‘reins in’ MPs, but Willie Jackson ‘hits back’ — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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