Māori political play looks credible

Māori political interests are becoming clearer and look like they are aiming for real gains – and it doesn’t look favourable for the Labour Party, who appears to be losing it’s connection with yet another pew from it’s once broad church.

Maiki Sherman has an in depth and fascinating analysis of Māori political manoeuvrings at Newshub – Opinion: Māori politics now a Game of Thrones.

In short, the Kīngitanga movement appears to be teaming up with the Māori Party, and they are working towards an alliance with Hone Harawira and the Mana Party.

The person at the centre of this is Tuku Morgan, ex NZ First MP and now a closer adviser to Kīngi Tuheitia and president of the Māori Party.

If this works it could put a strong bloc of Māori in a strong political position, competing with NZ First for holding possible balance of power after next year’s election.

And it will either sideline Labour from power, or it have a powerful influence over a Labour led coalition.

National could be the main benefactors – apart from Māori.

As next year’s election looms closer, the power plays have begun.

And right at the centre of it is the King himself – Kīngi Tuheitia, the Māori Monarch. His movement, the Kīngitanga, is reasserting its relevance.

The King’s annual address is the only time he speaks publicly.

Over the years, his speeches have included the personal criticisms faced by the King and the overwhelming need to reaffirm the relevance of the King Movement.

Of equal importance, and intrinsically tied to the two points just mentioned, are the ever-increasing political themes seen in the King’s yearly speech.

Māori water rights, Kōhanga Reo, a Treaty of Waitangi claim to greater Auckland, and the question of sovereignty.

All of these issues have been part of an attempt to assert the power of the Kīngitanga.  

However, the King Movement does not command the same power it once had with the Government of the time.

The movement itself, as noted by the King in his annual addresses, has had to work on rebuilding its support amongst the Māori people.    

A king with fractured support from his own tribes is a king whose power is also fractured, leaving cracks for any government to divide and conquer.

Securing major concessions such as shared sovereignty then would be an uphill battle.

And so, politically at least, a strategy is needed to strengthen the King’s hand in the realm of Parliament.

Cue the King’s speech of 2016 that attacked Labour.

It was claimed the King went off script this year. But this is not the case.

Labour leader Andrew Little was set up – he was sitting front and centre moments before the King’s address was delivered.

The King said he would not be voting for Labour again and criticised the leader for his unwillingness to work with the Māori Party.

He then went on to back the Māori Party, with a nod also to Hone Harawira’s Mana Movement.  

The King’s Hand – Tukoroirangi Morgan

Tukoroirangi Morgan has been the King’s Hand – the King’s closest adviser – for many years.

And Morgan now has another job – he was recently appointed President of the Māori Party.

He is expected to be a game-changer for the Māori Party. The latest developments with the Kīngitanga support is a clear sign of this.

Morgan’s strategy and game plan will be well thought out.

The first move was to extend an olive branch to the Mana Movement. Breakfast with Hone Harawira.

And the backing of both the Māori Party and Mana Movement by the King in his annual address was anything but a coincidence.  

The Marriage of Convenience – Mana Party

A Maori Party-Mana alliance is the ultimate marriage of convenience in the Seven Kingdoms.

The seed was already sown following the meeting between Tukoroirangi Morgan and Hone Harawira.

A formal merger is highly unlikely. But a marriage of convenience is very much on the cards. A deal is almost certain to be struck in the Seven Kingdoms.

The King’s endorsement of Mana though has served more reasons than one. It would be a hard sell to say the Kīngitanga was backing an independent Māori voice without acknowledging Mana.

The Political Pawn – Māori Party

The real power-play here is the King’s endorsement of the Māori Party and setting up its alliance with Mana.

In order to strengthen the Kīngitanga’s political relevancy, they need to secure more concessions from the Government.

The King and his office are well and truly  aware of the benefits of sitting at the Government table.

Unlike other political parties, the Māori Party is not tied to the greater party needs and wants. Māori aspirations come first.

And so the King is taking over the Māori Party –  a movement capable of doing the Kīngitanga’s bidding at the Government table. And sitting across from John Key will be none other than Tukoroirangi Morgan.

The Māori Party has been hijacked by the Kīngitanga – they just don’t know it yet.

Perhaps they are willing parties to this power play – they will have been well aware of the significance of appointing Morgan as their party president.

The Princess – Nanaia Mahuta

So, where does Nanaia Mahuta sit in all of this? The Hauraki-Waikato MP has been the political princess of the Kīngitanga for two decades.

Questions have been swirling for a while about whether Mahuta will contest the next election. While she has confirmed she intends to stand, inside sources reveal that is not the case. The King’s attack on Labour all but confirm this. It is no longer a question of if, but simply when Mahuta will step down.

The King’s criticism and its inferred message for voters to ditch Labour now makes it far too awkward for Mahuta to stand at the next election. Hauraki-Waikato are block voters. They have backed Mahuta over the years, much of it based on loyalty.

And loyalty should not be underestimated when it comes to Māori politics. When Labour announced its reshuffle in December 2015, Mahuta was demoted down the list. This caused outrage among Hauraki-Waikato constituents and the Kīngitanga. The King’s spokesman Tuku Morgan came out firing saying Little would regret it and the snub would come back to bite the party in the backside. The Kīngitanga has delivered on that promise.      

Labour has now been outcast by the Māori King, and therefore, the Hauraki-Waikato electorate.

Expect the Māori Party to win this seat at next year’s election.

The Outcast – Andrew Little

Labour has now been outcast by the Māori King, and therefore, the Hauraki-Waikato electorate.

However, with at least another year out from the election, expect further moves to take place in the interim.

As the old saying goes, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Labour have tended to use their Māori support rather than deliver what it has wanted. No are we seeing some utu?

The Gatekeeper – John Key

According to a media advisor in the King’s office, John Key and Kīngi Tuheitia have had at least three meetings in the past six months.

A stronger Māori Party could also be another saviour for National in that it may not have to rely on the Kingmaker – Winston Peters.

The Māori King could save Key from Winston the Kingmaker.

Yet, as they say – a year is a long time in politics. Anything could happen.

But one thing is certain – the Māori politics Game of Thrones is well and truly underway.

Yes, a lot could happen in the next year.

But what Sherman illustrates here is credible, and it looks like a well thought through plan. That could succeed.

The biggest unknown is who will lead the next Government, National or Labour. This plan appears to favour National. But above all it could put the Māori Party, the Māori King and the Mana movement into a very powerful position – and there may be little the rest of us can do about it.

What would provide a strong Māori bloc in Parliament with the most benefits?

A Labour led coalition, where Labour is keen to make up for nine years out of power, the Green Party is keen to launch their long planned ideals, possible NZ First are also in the mix, with the Māori Party making up the numbers?

Or the Māori Party building on their relationship with National, possibly providing National with a path back to power without needing to rely on Winston Peters, and holding on their own a decisive vote?

Where would Mana fit in if Harawira wins his seat back? He has vowed never to team up with National. But he could still team up with the Māori Party, who apart for Confidence and Supply have voted against the Government more than for it.

The next year in politics could be much more interesting than the same old ‘Winston holds the balance of power’.


Choosing a pig-like mayor?

Chinese born former Labour MP Raymond Huo (2008-2014) tweeted:


Is this real? “Not afraid of divine opponents but a mayor like a pig. Choose wisely…” (Not a verbatim translation)


Keith Ng picked up on this and did some further translating.

Keith Ng Retweeted Raymond Huo

More verbatim translation: “Not afraid of a god-like opponent, most afraid of choosing a pig-like mayor make a smart choice; vote mayor, vote John Palino”

There’s not really any room for misinterpretation on the “god-like opponent” or “pig-like mayor”.

I don’t see how you can accidentally mistranslate something into god-like or pig-like.

I suspect he has a Chinese copywriter with very weird ideas, or a fairly weird sense of humour.

Weird for sure.

Spinoff Auckland poll

As a part of their SSI polling The Spinoff got some numbers from party support in Auckland that should cause a bit of concern for National – but Labour and Greens won’t be encouraged much either.

In what appears to be an Auckland poll only, party support:

  • National 42.6%
  • Labour 32.7%
  • Greens 11%
  • NZ First 10.4%

They compare this to the Auckland vote in the 2014 election:

  • National 48.6%
  • Labour 27.7%
  • Greens 9.7%
  • NZ First 6.8%

From: Housing crisis uselessness costing National in Auckland – Spinoff poll

The latest nationwide political poll, this month’s Reid Research-Newshub survey had Labour sitting about the same as the SSI result in Auckland at 32.7 – for National, its 45.1% countrywide figure suggests it might be Auckland at 42.6 in SSI that is weighing it down.  Does the housing bubble turn out to be an anchor?

National has ranged from low forties to low fifties in polls over the last few months, suggesting a lot of volatility in support.

Much may depend on the state of housing this time next year.

The Spinoff-SSI poll was online only. I presume this applies to the above poll:

Survey Sampling International (SSI) conducted an online survey among a representative sample of 760 Auckland residents aged 18 and over with quota applied to gender, age and region within Auckland. All respondents were screened to ensure they were New Zealand residents and eligible to vote. The polling period was 17-19 August and the margin of error is +/- 3.6%.


Corbyn, Laboour and ‘traingate’

From Missy on Jeremy Corbyn and ‘traingate’:

So, the traingate story is rolling along – I have now seen about 4 different versions from Corbyn’s team as to why he did not have a seat on the train, and after the latest from his aides/spokespeople, I am starting to wonder if anyone in his office communicates!

Today a story came out that one of his aides said that they could not get hold of Corbyn on Tuesday when Traingate broke because he was ‘making jam’, however, a spokesperson from his office claimed that this was not true and they were in touch with Corbyn all day.

But I think due to it being end of summer and not much else happening this has gotten more coverage than it may have – the original story last week seems to have only be covered by the Guardian whilst most were saturated with the Olympics.

Still on Labour, an embarrassing situation has arisen where they may not be able to hold their annual conference in Liverpool at the end of September. It appears that they have no security provider for the conference.

The situation comes about after the party voted to boycott G4S, who have provided security at their conferences for the last 20 years, because of their business interests in Israel and prison contracts. However of the companies approached it seems that only one provided a bid, a company that one of the biggest backers of Labour (GMB Union) have said cannot provide the security because the company do not recognise GMB Union – which is the biggest union representing security staff.

Labour then had to (humiliatingly) back down and approach G4S with an offer for them to provide security. It has emerged today that G4S have turned down the job for several reasons including the short time frame, and incidents at previous events including staff being spat at and verbally abused by Labour Party members.

If Labour are unable to find a security provider they will be in a position where they will have to either ask local police – at an exorbitant cost to the taxpayer – or cancel the conference. I will be surprised if the police will be able to do this at short notice, these events take a lot of planning, usually months – G4S has been quoted as saying they would normally plan for something like this for up to a year in advance.

Guardian: Traingate latest: Jeremy Corbyn gets seat on Glasgow service

Whatever Jeremy Corbyn’s destiny as Labour leader, one element of his future now seems certain: every time he gets a seat on a train, someone will take a photograph for posterity.

Two days after the eruption of Corbyn’s unlikely if bitter row with Virgin Trainsabout whether there were empty seats on a London to Newcastle service, he was on another of its routes, this time heading to Glasgow.

Is any attention good attention for a politician?

Maybe not this sort of attention: Labour party suspends pro-Corbyn union chief

The Labour party has suspended a trade union leader who strongly supportsJeremy Corbyn, leaving him “disgusted and in shock”.

Ronnie Draper, the general secretary of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), which has nearly 20,000 members, told the Press Association he had been sent a letter announcing he was suspended pending a hearing.

Parliament impeding social reform

An advantage of MMP and it’s moderating effect on policies can turn into a disadvantage when it comes to social reforms that have a lot of popular public support. There are several current reform issues that our Members of Parliament (our representatives) are very reluctant to deal with.

Barry Soper points out that Parliament the problem stopping social reform.

The problem with Parliament and social reform is that is that it’s wrested in the hands of too few people. And there’s a lot of reform itching to get out of the political starting blocks.

Cannabis law reform’s one area that’s unlikely to see the light of day with the current crop.

Labour’s Andrew Little appeared recently to warm to the idea in an interview with student radio but then appeared to back track when it made it on to the mainstream media platform indicating it wasn’t a priority.

There’s no way it’s going to be a starter with John Key who’s vehemently opposed and his associate health spokesman Peter Dunne’s not disposed either.

That’s perhaps unfair to Dunne who seems intent on pushing things as far as he can within the current laws (especially with medicinal cannabis) that National seem to have no intention of allowing and relaxation.

Parliament is at least listening on euthanasia, but whether this will lead to taking a serious look at reform is yet to be seen.

In the meantime people, like the desperately ill former trade union leader Helen Kelly, puffs away on black market weed while the cops rightly turn a blind eye.

And while they’re puffing their way to a less painful death, the politicians are at the moment hearing submissions on whether the desperately ill should be allowed to end it all through assisted suicide.

The death last year of Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales who was suffering from brain cancer, just after a High Court denied her plea for an assisted death because it was a matter for Parliament to decide, wasn’t in vain.

An inquiry into euthanasia’s underway but don’t hold your breath that it’ll lead to change, again because the power wrests in the hands of too few.

Even though John Key supported the last Parliamentary ballot on the issue 13 years ago, which was lost by just two votes, he’s not willing to promote a Government bill on the topic to allow MPs to exercise their consciences.

Labour’s on the same side with Little instructing one of his MP’s voluntary euthanasia bill to be dropped musing it was about “choosing the controversies that are best for us at this point in time.”

So the two major parties are not willing to step up on considering social reform that is very important to many people.

Now it would seem the only hope for those who want the right to die with dignity, at a time of their own choosing, is ACT’s David Seymour’s bill which is sitting gathering dust, waiting to be drawn from a ballot, which of course may never happen.

The terminally ill would argue it’s not a question of when they die, it’s how they die. But at the moment those who have the power to possibly make it easier for them have other more important issues, like the plain packaging of cigarettes, to deal with.

And whether airports have to advertise lost property in newspapers or not. That was a National MP’s bill drawn from the Members’ ballot while Seymour’s somewhat more important Dying With Dignity bill gets nowhere.

Social reform can be very contentious but there needs to be a better way of a dealing with important social issues without them being swept under the parliamentary carpet by gutless, self interested politicians.

It doesn’t mean social reforms will happen, that should depend on proper inquiry and majority public approval, but they should at least be given a decent chance.

Hipkins v. Parata on online learning

Chris Hipkins, Labour and the education unions seem to oppose just about every change proposed by the Government on education, so it is no surprise to see hackles raised over proposals on online education that may involve private providers.

On Tuesday Education Minister Hekia Parata announced in Biggest update to education in 27 years:

One of the proposals in the Bill is to modernise online learning through the establishment of Communities of Online Learning (COOLs).

“COOLs will be open to as wide a range of potential providers as possible to gain the greatest benefits for young people. This innovative way of delivering education offers a digital option to engage students, grow their digital fluency, and connect them even more to 21st century opportunities.

“There will be a rigorous accreditation process alongside ongoing monitoring to ensure quality education is being provided.”

So it was not surprising to see this come up in Question Time yesterday. The Government got in the first shot.


6. Dr JIAN YANG (National) to the Minister of Education: What recent announcements has she made about expanding 21st century learning options for parents and whānau?

Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Yesterday the introduction of the Education (Update) Amendment Bill was announced in this House. It is the biggest update to education in 27 years and will provide flexibility for parents and whānau, and for children and young people at the centre of learning. One of the proposals is the establishment of communities of online learning that will enable online learning in whole or in part as a supplement to classroom learning or a complement to what their schools offer. Digital fluency is the universal language of the 21st century. In the future a provider, including our mainstream schools, tertiary providers, or private providers will be able to apply to become a community of online learning. This will give students, parents, and whānau the benefit of a digital option, grow their digital fluency, and ensure they can be global citizens in an increasingly connected 21st century world.

Dr Jian Yang: What measures will she put in place to ensure the quality of education is maintained for the young people who choose this option?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: To become a community of online learning, a provider will be required to meet a very high threshold. They will be required to undergo an accreditation regime to ensure that students will have access to a great New Zealand education. They will also be subject to monitoring and an intervention regime, just like all our schools. Providers will also have to provide evidence of their capacity to provide pastoral care and to meet the well-being needs of students. They will be subject to an accountability regime, including reporting against agreed student achievement outcomes, financial reporting requirements, and Education Review Office reviews. We also propose to set strict enrolment criteria—for example, a restriction on the enrolment of students for whom there is a high risk of disengagement in an online environment. We welcome the submissions of parents, families and whānau, and the education sector to the select committee.

Then Hipkins asked Parata about the policy, with David Seymour,  John Key and Marama Fox joining in.

EducationCommunities of Online Learning

7. CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) to the Minister of Education: How will her Communities of Online Learning (CoOL) proposal differ from online charter schools in the United States, given a study partially funded by a private pro-charter foundation found students attending those schools lost an average of about 72 days of learning in reading, and 180 days of learning in maths during the course of a 180-day school year?

Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): Significantly. As I set out in the answer to the previous question, before a provider could become a community of online learning, it must undergo an accreditation regime, be subject to an intervention regime, provide evidence of its capacity to provide pastoral care, be subject to an accountability regime, and demonstrate that it meets strict enrolment criteria—for example, a restriction on the enrolment of students for whom there is a high risk of disengagement in an online environment. We have put these checks and balances in place because, like the Labour Party members in their Future of Work document, we agree that—and I quote from Labour’s Future of Work document—”… people can obtain entire qualifications online with the same quality of direct learning and engagement as if they were on site.”

Chris Hipkins: Does her own regulatory impact statement state “Historically, academic achievement for New Zealand correspondence school students is lower than that of students in face-to-face education. Engagement can also be low.”; if so, what New Zealand evidence does she have that fully online learning that is allowed for in this proposal will result in better educational achievement?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: The member is damning 23,000 students, which is the roll of Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura)—the biggest school in New Zealand—and of course it has problems and challenges. [Interruption] Absolutely, and the regulatory impact statement outlines that, so I am glad the member has taken advantage of it. But like all schools in New Zealand that do face difficulties with engagement and achievement, so too does Te Kura, and it does a significantly good job with those kids who have been disengaged from other schools. As Dame Karen Sewell, the chair of Te Kura, has already publicly said, she welcomes this new approach and looks forward to Te Kura becoming a community of online learning.

David Seymour: Is the Minister aware that the study referred to in the primary question was popularised earlier this week in the American show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; if indeed that is how the member researched his primary question, would that be an example of online learning?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: To answer that question in reverse order, yes, it would be an example of that; in answer to the first part, unlike the Opposition, who use overseas comedy writers as the font of their knowledge, we do not.

Rt Hon John Key: Does the Minister find it very odd when she constantly gets to read reports from people who claim that they want children in New Zealand to get a better education, especially the least well-off New Zealanders, but never want to do anything other than just back up their union mates?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: It is terribly disappointing for New Zealand parents, who are very focused on how they get the best education for their kids and are constantly obstructed by naysayers.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! A little less interjection from my immediate right.

Chris Hipkins: Is she seriously suggesting that a primary school child sitting at home in their bedroom in front of a laptop or a tablet is going to get an education at least as good as a child sitting in a classroom, surrounded by their peers, and with a fully trained and qualified teacher guiding their learning?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: Unlike the Opposition, I do not propose to prescribe for every child in this country or hypothetically—

Hon Annette King: Yes, you do.

Hon HEKIA PARATA: No, I do not, and that is why the bill is full of enabling provisions. We actually trust New Zealanders to make choices for themselves rather than have them prescribed to them by all-knowing other people.

Rt Hon John Key: Is the Minister aware that on Stewart Island the school there has 28 pupils and those 28 pupils are all learning Mandarin, the entire school, and they are learning online, and is that not a great thing—that young kids on Stewart Island are learning Chinese?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The first part of the question is in order. Supplementary questions should have only one leg to them.

Hon HEKIA PARATA: I am aware of that. I am equally aware that Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiu o Ngati Porou in Ruatoria is teaching physics and chemistry in Te Reo Māori to other parts of the country. The members of the Opposition seem confused about this policy—because in my answer I made it clear that mainstream schools can be incorporated in this policy as providers of online learning.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! We now have a discussion between two front-benchers, which will cease.

Chris Hipkins: Can she confirm that all of the students mentioned in her answer and in the Prime Minister’s question were attending a school, and what evidence does she have that they will get an equally good education if they are at home by themselves without a teacher?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: Again the member falls victim to his own prejudices. In the policy that we have laid out we have said there is a full range of options of what these communities of online learning could be like. It includes provision by existing mainstream schools. It includes provision by existing tertiary institutions, and it includes provision for provision by private providers. We are not saying yet what proposals will be acceptable.

Chris Hipkins: Does she at least accept the irony that while she is talking about opening up more flexibility and choice she is massively reducing the flexibility and autonomy offered to existing public schools and subjecting them in the same bill to even more compliance and red tape?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: I do not, because this Government has invested over $700 million into those exact same schools to ensure that they can have digital technology—24/7 ultra-fast, good-quality broadband data, at no cost to them—and we have incorporated as of a month ago digital technology as a core part of the curriculum. This is a next step because this Government is future focused, living now in the present, and providing for our young people to be internationally connected. [Interruption] Yes, very disappointing for those still living in the past; I understand that.

Chris Hipkins: When her bulk funding proposal results in schools reducing the number of subjects on offer, is she going to suggest to those students who can no longer take the subjects in school that they want to that they can enrol online rather than have the teacher in front of them as they have had previously?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: First of all, I have no proposal around bulk funding. Second of all, in the funding review we are still in the middle of a consultation process. The third thing to know is that schools already offer blended learning and they do offer it outside the boundaries of their own school, and, fourthly, our Government is absolutely supportive of that kind of collaboration.

Rt Hon John Key: Has the Minister of Education seen a press release by the Labour Party from Jenny Salesa saying that when it comes to Pacific population and bilingualism in New Zealand, the associate education spokesperson for Labour said this is a crucial—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is absolutely no—[Interruption] Order! I do not need help from Mr Chris Bishop. There is, firstly, no ministerial responsibility, and, secondly, it is a question that I perceive is designed to attack the Opposition party, which is in breach of Speakers’ rulings.

Rt Hon John Key: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I am not interested in arguing about it. If it is another matter, I will happily hear it.

Rt Hon John Key: Yes. I seek leave to table the press release, then.

Mr SPEAKER: No, and I am not prepared to put the leave.

Marama Fox: In addition to digital technologies being made a core curriculum subject, will the Minister consider Te Reo Māori and the New Zealand Land Wars also being made a core curriculum subject?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: Te Reo Māori has exactly the same status in our curriculum as digital technology. It is available in any school where parents wish it to be available—

Hon Trevor Mallard: That’s not true.

Hon HEKIA PARATA: —and it is resourced accordingly—it is true. In terms of the—

Hon Trevor Mallard: Not true.

Hon HEKIA PARATA: Argh! So from the past! In terms of ngā whawhai nui o Aotearoa, because the Māori Party has made strong advocacy to beef up the resources around Māori history, we have developed a significant website. I thank the Māori Party for that constructive advocacy.

More poor NZ First maths

Some very questionable NZ First spokesperson maths were highlighted recently – see Predator Free would cost ‘trillions’.

In Question Time in Parliament yesterday NZ First deputy leader Ron Mark also indicated he may be challenged by numbers.

2. RON MARK (Deputy Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Ron Mark: Does he stand by his statement that “every region of New Zealand is crucial to our growth and progress”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, in the context I made it.

Ron Mark: Why has the Government, then, given only $12 million over 4 years to councils for tourism infrastructure such as public toilets, when the Government took $630 million net surplus from GST on international visitor spending?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I think the member is wrong; the number is higher than that for GST. The Government has been investing very heavily in the tourism sector. It is one of the reasons why it is such an important part of the economy, and we saw 3.3 million international tourists come to New Zealand. What the Government is doing is—for the first time—providing that sort of support for councils. They are free to put in an application, and, I think, from the feedback that I have been getting both as Prime Minister and as Minister of Tourism, a lot of them are going to do that and be grateful. But to argue that that is the only thing that we are doing in terms of supporting tourists is a bit farcical. It includes the $140 million – odd every year we put into marketing. It includes the work we have done around black spots for mobile phones, ultra-fast broadband, and tourist facilities.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I specifically quoted the figure $12 million over 4 years to councils in respect of tourism infrastructure—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Can I have the point of order, please.

Ron Mark: My question is that he has not answered—I ask you to ask the Prime Minister to answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, there is absolutely no doubt that the answer addressed the question that was asked.

First, on the claim of “$630 million net surplus from GST on international visitor spending“. As Key suggests, the value of GST on visitor spending is higher than that.

The latest numbers from MBIE show that in the year to June 2016 visitor spending was $10,276 million. Presuming that is GST inclusive the GST portion of that is over twice the $630 million Mark claimed – $1,340 million. That’s an increase from $1,139 million in the year to June 2015, which is still nearly double Mark’s claim.

But Mark didn’t specify what period his GST number applied to, but tried to compare it to four years of expenditure. GST on visitor spending over the next four years is on track to be well in excess of $5 billion, which is quite different to $630 million.

Kudos to Key for recognising this discrepancy on the fly. A fail mark for Mark on visitor GST.

The second point Key made is on the claim that “given only $12 million over 4 years to councils for tourism infrastructure such as public toilets“.

Mark has mentioned expenditure on only one small tourism policy. Key mentions other areas of spending on tourism.

This MBIE page details these spending announcements from this year’s budget.

  • A new Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Fund of $12 million over four years will be established for smaller scale infrastructure projects that deliver tourism-related facilities(that’s what Mark referred to).
  • Budget 2016 also contributes an extra $8 million over four years for Tourism New Zealand to target key growth markets so New Zealand continues to diversify our visitor base.
  • There will be new funding of $25 million over four years that will enable the, enhancement and extension of Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail.

This is just additional spending – clearly headlined as a ‘further boost’

Key was a bit off with his estimate of the “$140 million – odd every year we put into marketing”.  From Tourism New Zealand’s 3 year marketing strategy document:

Tourism New Zealand’s budget will increase $29.5m, from $83.8m to $113.4m, for the financial years FY14 and FY15, increasing to $115.8m in FY16 and FY17, enabling significant expansion on Tourism New Zealand’s current activity.

But he was in the vicinity (off the top of his head), and again this is just a part of what the Government contributes to tourism.

Another thing – it would be ridiculous to use all of the GST gathered from visitors’ spending on tourism.

We don’t reinvest all of the GST on other sectors back into those sectors. If that was how things were done there would be little money for New Zealand First to employ researchers (via Parliamentary Services) – but perhaps they don’t use researchers now.

If NZ First want to gain some credibility as being able to hold a crucial role in the next Government then they need to stop making claims that are easily ridiculed.

Predator Free would cost ‘trillions’

Clayton Mitchell, NZ First spokesperson on Conservation, has said that “the cost of keeping the entire country predator free and maintaining it would see a capital expenditure cost of $1.67 trillion and an operating cost of $91 billion per annum”.

This is his whole media release: Predator Free – a Trillon Dollar Cost

A predator-free New Zealand by 2050 is likely to cost trillions, not millions as the government claims, says New Zealand First.

“The National government’s promise to make New Zealand predator-free for the bargain price of $28 million is nothing but greenwashing,” says Conservation Spokesperson Clayton Mitchell.

“Zealandia, a predator free plant and bird sanctuary in Wellington, cost $17 million to set up with an operating cost of $867,000.

“Using these figures as a yardstick, the cost of keeping the entire country predator free and maintaining it would see a capital expenditure cost of $1.67 trillion and an operating cost of $91 billion per annum – as New Zealand is 98,000 times larger than Zealandia.

“The operating cost alone would be 40% of New Zealand’s GDP.

“According to the Conservation Minister, the private sector will be willing to share the burden with additional funding.

“The government’s targets are totally unrealistic.

“New Zealand First recognises that the preservation and enhancement of the environment requires sound economics.

“Unlike National we believe that we must set appropriate and realistic environmental goals,” says Mr Mitchell.


David Farrar calls this as “may be the stupidest release put out by NZ First since they complained about the Reserve Bank being owned by foreigners” and there’s a few uncomplimentary comments too under Meet the future NZ First Minister of Finance.

Mitchell is also NZ First spokesperson on Sport and Recreation and spoke today in Parliament on Motions — 2016 Olympic Games—Success of New Zealand Team

A thought to think about as we go into new sporting events and, of course, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo are the people who paid and enabled this event to take place, and who put our sportspeople on the international stage so that we can swell with national pride.

We should have given them the ability to watch these games of national significance live and free to air, as we once enjoyed in previous times gone by. We would like to see this House support that as it comes up in the future. It is affordable, and I think, if you ask the people who stay in touch with New Zealanders, there is a huge desire for it.

So he wants “games of national significance live” free to air. Coverage of the Olympics is anything but free.

But he didn’t do any costings -it shouldn’t be hard to come up with a rough estimate of trillions.

‘Special needs education’ – sooner or more?

The Herald reports that ‘Special needs’ term singles out students and will be scrapped – Government

The term “special needs” education is likely to be scrapped because of concerns it singles out students.

They don’t say what it will be called but that’s only a minor point.

More money will also be spent on preschoolers to try and help them as early as possible – likely meaning less funding for special education at school.

The possible changes are outlined in a Cabinet paper released by Education Minister Hekia Parata as part of an “update” of the system focused on high-level changes.

The Ministry of Education has been struggling to meet growing demand as the school-age population grows and there is better and earlier identification of needs.

Last year about $590m was spent on special education. No change in overall funding is proposed in the Cabinet paper – but how and when funding is spent will be overhauled.

Initial work will focus on:

• Reviewing the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) that provides support for students with the highest levels of disability.

• How help is provided for speech disorders like stuttering and oral language delay, to work out how things could be improved if help is provided earlier.

• “Clustering” services and removing sometimes arbitrary eligibility criteria. For example, the intensive wraparound service is currently limited to children aged 8 to 14, when “early intervention might be more beneficial in the long-term”.

But Opposition parties are not happy.

Labour’s education spokesman Chris Hipkins…

…said early intervention should not come at the cost of cutting support for school-age children with special needs.

“It is short-sighted and stupid…I absolutely agree that the government can do a much better job of identifying and supporting children with additional learning needs earlier.

“But depriving older kids of the support they so desperately need is no way to accomplish that.”

Green Party education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty…

…said the proposals would not help.

“The Government is proposing to shift money around, and short change children and young people over the age of seven. Everything I have heard shows the need for more support, and more funding, across all age groups, not less.”

Their proposed approach is to spend more to achieve more.

But Education Minister Hekia Parata said…

…evidence showed that providing learning support early in a child’s life had a much greater impact.

“We want to make sure that the over $590 million we’re investing in additional learning support is being spent in the most effective and impactful way possible so that kids get the best chance to achieve educational success.

If learning and behavioural problems are identified earlier and dealt with effectively then there should be less need for some of those children at least as they get older.

But identifying special needs students earlier who still need assistance throughout their education could cost more.

It is difficult to know what will be the most cost effective approach.

But identifying and addressing educational issues with children as early as possible should be the starting point.

Some of the cost savings won’t happen until much later, when they become adults. If learning difficulties are resolved early it could help avoid unemployment and crime, including expensive imprisonment.

But it will be difficult to measure, and it may be changed if a Labour-Green government decide that it isn’t the best approach.

Auckland mayoral poll – two leaders

In two ways of looking at an Auckland mayoral poll there are two leaders – Phil Goff easily leads the other contenders, but ‘Don’t Know’ easily leads Goff.

But care needs to be taken with this poll – it has been done by a pollster with an unknown record and was done entirely online with none of the traditional polling being done.

The Spinoff: Exclusive: new Spinoff/SSI poll shows Phil Goff with huge lead in Auckland mayoral race

A survey commissioned for the Spinoff’s War for Auckland pop-up site puts the Labour MP well in front of his nearest rival, Vic Crone, just weeks out from voting. But many remain undecided.

Comparing the contenders (decided voters):

  • Phil Goff 60.3%
  • Victoria Crone 15.5%
  • John Palino 7.9%
  • Penny Bright 4.6%
  • Mark Thomas 3.3%
  • David Hay 2.8%
  • Other 5.6%

This is a big lead for Goff. Being the only one with well established name recognition the lead isn’t a surprise but perhaps the size of his lead is.

Crone has a huge job to try and close the large gap.

Palino stood against Brown last election so should be known, but his campaign has failed to impress since it launched.

But the numbers look a bit different when adding one significant number.


  • Don’t know 43.7%
  • Phil Goff 31.2%
  • Victoria Crone 8.0%
  • No intention of voting 4.6%
  • John Palino 4.1%
  • Penny Bright 2.4%
  • Mark Thomas 1.7%
  • David Hay 1.4%
  • Other 2.9%


Despite the large lack of certainty – about half chose none of the candidates – that is still a huge lead for Goff. As ‘don’t knows’ get to know other candidates the gap may close but this looks like it is Goff’s campaign to lose. This seems unlikely as he is likely to run a fairly bland campaign.

However the accuracy of this poll is unknown. It was conducted by am international pollster with no phone surveying done.

Survey Sampling International conducted an online survey of 760 Auckland residents 18+ with quota applied for gender, age and Auckland region. Polling took place August 17-19 and there is a margin of error of +/- 3.6%.

From the SSI website, About:

SSI is the premier global provider of data solutions and technology to drive business success.

As the premier global provider of data solutions and technology for consumer and business-to-business survey research, SSI reaches respondents in 100+ countries via Internet, telephone, mobile/wireless and mixed-access offerings.



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