Maori versus Peters on referendum bottom line

I think NZ First have always had a policy to have a referendum on whether to retain the Maori seats in Parliament or not.

The only different yesterday was Winston Peters saying it was a non-negotiable policy this election. He repeated his party’s referendum policy but made it clear which outcome he wanted – scrapping the seats. The other outcome he no doubt wants is picking up some anti-Maori votes, an easy target against a minority.

Parliament has to balance the need to represent majority wishes with the need to protect minorities. Referendums are useful for some things but are a democratic risk when they attack a minority representation in Parliament.

RNZ:  Peter’s referendum call would sideline Māori – Fox

At his party’s annual convention in Auckland, Mr Peters said the Māori seats should go and promised a mid-term binding referendum on whether to abolish the seven seats. Voters would also decide whether to reduce the number of MPs in Parliament to 100.

“My strategy is to tell everyone out there that you will not be talking to New Zealand First unless you want a referendum on both those issues – mid-term after this election.”

Maori Party list MP Marama Fox (in Parliament through the overall party vote)…

…said the seats could go only when disparity was removed for Māori in this country.

“We have the highest … rates of youth suicide in the world. We have the highest rates of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) for Māori women in the world.

“We have a shorter life expectancy – and so on and so on and so on, and Winston Peters is merely politicking for votes and trying to take us back to the good old days of colonisation where you stick Māori in the corner and don’t give them a voice.”

Labour Maori electorate MP Kelvin Davis…

…said it was probably smart politics on Mr Peters’ part to attack Māori and politicians in the two-pronged referendum.

“The majority love hearing that sort of stuff: ‘we’re all New Zealanders, we should all be the same’.

“Well, the reality is, tangata whenua have different views, different values and we should be the ones that decide whether those seats stay or go.”

Shane Jones agreed with this earlier this month:

That was also the view of new New Zealand First candidate for Whangārei, Shane Jones, when asked earlier this month on TV3’s The Hui whether Māori seats should stay or go.

He said Māori seats should continue to exist “as long as people of Māori extraction remain on them and want them to continue”.

I think that’s a fair position. As long as every vote is equal as it is under MMP then I don’t have a problem with whether we have Maori electorates or not – in fact if it gives Maori better representation that’s a good thing.

The rest of us should look at how to improve our own representation. Our best way of doing that is by tactical voting in general elections, not in voting away a minority’s preference for their own representation.

Little concedes Greens+NZ First required

Andrew Little has conceded that Labour will need both the Greens and NZ First to form a coalition.

So the election is shaping up to be National versus three parties – but don’t forget the Maori Party.

RNZ:  Little defends Labour’s record on helping Māori

Mr Little did not rule out the party as a coalition partner, and allowed that both Mr Jones and Winston Peters could be considered for ministerial positions under a Labour government.

“I think when you’re putting together a coalition government, obviously you’ve got your potential coalition partners.

“For us it is naturally the Greens, obviously New Zealand First as well.”

“There’s going to be bids put up and there’s going to be what is needed to have a strong stable government pulled it together, and that would almost certainly involve MPs from each of those parties in a Cabinet.

“Quite what the detail of that is, how that looks, would be a matter for any discussions after the election.”

While Little said “For us it is naturally the Greens, obviously New Zealand First as well” that is a new concession, and is far from a natural position for Labour to be in.

A lot was said last year when Labour tied their election chances with the Greens through a Memorandum of Understanding.

The clear understanding from this was that Labour had conceded that they couldn’t compete on their own with National any more, after their support had slid from being the leading party in 2005 to trailing National by 22% in the 2014 election.

Labour’s share of election vote has gone down in every election this century. Recent polls have them stuck in the twenties with a real risk of a slump similar to last election.

Labour+Greens was not the game-changer that Labour hoped for. It seemed to reinforce their non-major party status and the polls failed to lift.

The Greens also haven’t lifted their support, and with their combined support in polls being around 40% the likelihood of a Labour+Green coalition looks low.

And it looks like it could be worse than just requiring both Greens and NZ First to form a government.

Labour are at real risk of not having a majority in a Labour+Greens+NZ First arrangement.

Both Greens and NZ First are looking likely to get 10-15% of the vote. If Labour get something 25% like last election (a distinct possibility and it could go lower) and both Greens and NZ First got more than 12.5% each the Green+NZ First vote could easily be higher than Labour’s.

That means it’s quite possible Labour could have less than half the say in a coalition, less than half the say on policies and less than half the ministers in Cabinet (if NZ First doesn’t go with National).

With both Winston Peters and Shane Jones having histories of disdain for the Greens their combined vote may not be strong against Labour’s, but it Little’s hope that “there’s going to be what is needed to have a strong stable government pulled it together” – Greens and NZ First – looks a long shot.

The choices this election look to be:

  • National+NZ First with National having about 3 times the vote of NZ First
  • Labour+Greens+NZ First with no party having a majority
  • Labour+Greens+NZ First with Labour having a small majority

The dynamics of a Labour led coalition will depend not just on whether Labour gets a majority or not, but also which of Greens and NZ First is the larger partner.

Greens are currently polling better but their support tends to fall off in campaigns, while NZ First support has tended to surge.

Voters will be considering whether it is time to dump National after three terms, but also have to wonder what a Labour+Green+NZ First alternative would look like, and try to guess what sort of power balance and stability a tri-party coalition might have.

Don’t forget the Maori Party.

If voters are reluctant to ditch National for fear of the alternative the National vote may hold up in the mid forties.

If the Maori Party are successful in their head to head battle with Labour over Maori seats and get a couple more seats that could make things very interesting.

(Little) said Labour’s Māori representation was going from strength to strength and, after the election, Labour would have the largest representation of Māori of any party in the history of New Zealand.

“If you look at the track record of the Māori Party, they’ve hitched their wagon to the National Party government for the last nine years, actually things have got worse for Māori.

Little has made it clear that Labour don’t want the Maori Party in their coalition considerations.

National have shown a consistent willingness to work with the Maori Party, and it is feasible they could have a choice between NZ First and the Maori Party to form the next government, and possibly also ACT+Dunne as another option.

In comparison Labour seems to only be considering a Labour+Green+NZ First coalition. With barely a majority or a minority in that mix that potentially puts them in a very weak bargaining position.

Labour risk becoming political lame ducks, and if voters get this perception before voting it could turn out badly.

Flavell: “Not aligned with Labour too much”

In an interview with The Nation yesterday Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell pointed out a number of differences between his party and Labour.

On immigration

Okay. The other week on The Hui, Shane Taurima said that we need to taihoa on immigration. So too many people were coming in, he said. What’s the right number in the Maori Party’s point of view, if 75,000 is too much? 

Flavell: From memory, I can’t exactly remember the amount that we set previously, but I think against the issues that have been raised around housing and those sorts of issues recently, we have to reset that. We haven’t come to a figure at this point in time.

Are you kind of aligned with Labour? You want it to go down to about 25,000 a year? 

Flavell: Not aligned with Labour too much.

The bus, and the one that’s coloured red

Well, okay, about that, Mr Flavell. The thing is if National’s going to govern without New Zealand First, it needs to bolster the numbers of its support parties, and your party, realistically, is the one that is a contender for getting extra seats. So what can they do for you — the National Party, to help you get more of your people over the line? 

Flavell: Well, that’s for them to consider.

Have you had a chat about it, though? 

Flavell: No, we haven’t had a chat about it, because that’s our responsibility to convince our people that we are the right option for them, against a party that continually throws them under the bus. You know, we’ve got to remember, in terms of our relationship—

Which party throws them under the bus? 

Flavell: The one that’s coloured in red.

On kaupapa

Okay, well, you’ve raised Labour there. Can you actually work with Labour in government? You say you can work with both parties, but you keep saying, and your people keep saying, that Labour throws Maori under the bus. So are you prepared to work with them in a government? 

Flavell: The practical situation is that we’ve expressed a desire to work with other people across the political spectrum, when whatever they’re offering fits our kaupapa. And if it does, that’s fine. But unfortunately, at this point in time, the leader of the Labour—

Well, does it? I’m confused here. Does Labour’s fit your kaupapa? 

Flavell: Now and again, but not too often, because clearly we vote differently from them. And the other part is that the leadership of the Labour Party—

So unlikely that you would be able to work with Labour, if the kaupapa doesn’t fit very often, as you just said. 

Flavell: That’s true. That’s true. And that’s declared. But the thing is that the leadership of the Labour Party have declared that they actually don’t want to work with us, which is a bit of a problem. So we’ll find out on election night when they need the numbers.

Unless Labour improve to a lot over their current poll ceiling of around 30% they will need at least NZ First or Greens to form a coalition, possibly both, or alternately one plus the Maori Party.

But at the moment Labour are campaigning strongly and at times bitterly against the Maori Party.

The Maori Party has a cooperation agreement with Hone Harawira and the Mana Party to improve their chances against Labour in September’s election.

The Nation:  Interview: David Seymour, Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell

Scoop: transcript

More defence of Labour Māori rankings

Labour has been doing a lot of defending of the decision of Maori electorate MPs to not stand on the party list, and the resulting lack of Maori candidates in the top fifteen of the list.

Kelvin Davis has joined in the defensive chorus.

RNZ: Kelvin Davis defends Labour’s Māori rankings

Labour’s party list is a “total victory” for Māori despite no Māori being ranked in the top 15, MP Kelvin Davis says.

Willow-Jane Prime is the party’s highest-ranked Māori candidate, at number 16 on the list.

But Mr Davis, who was unranked and would instead defend his Te Tai Tokerau seat, told TV3’s The Hui that the party strategy of not having its Māori electorate MPs stand on the list had been successful.

It’s premature to be claiming success over four months out from the election.

Will Labour MPs keep defending their strategy right through to the election?

On current polling, there would be 12 Māori MPs in the Labour caucus after the election, he said.

“We’re going to have double figures of Maori – this is going to be history-making.”

He was confident Labour would retain its six Māori seats and bring in several others off the list, including Ms Prime, Kiri Allan and Willie Jackson.

One Māori seat loss for Labour would be a failure for the strategy.

And there is a possible unintended consequence if Labour keep promoting the chances of a disproportionate number of Māori MPs – no Māori  voters may be put off voting for Labour. I have heard that sentiment expressed already.

There is still a lot of resentment about Labour’s actions on the Foreshore and Seabed legislation.

And there is also wider historical resentment about how Labour have taken Māori votes but have given little in return.

Can Labour be trusted to deliver for Māori if they lead the next government?

Possibly the best way of keeping Labour honest on Māori issues is also having a stronger voice from the Māori Party – especially if the Māori Party held the balance of power. They could be able to put a lot of pressure on a Labour caucus that is about one third Māori.

And if Labour fails to form the next government at least the Māori Party has a proven record of extracting some wins from a National led government.

Māori have proven to be smart tactical voters.

It could be a smart tactic to ensure Māori  interests are covered by both Labour and the Māori Party.

The Nation – Maori and Mana parties

This morning on The Nation at 9:30 am (repeated Sunday morning 10:00 am):

When the Maori and Mana parties signed an agreement to work together in election year, it looked like their bad blood could be a thing of the past. But with their recent spat over the Ture Whenua or Maori Land Bill, cracks have already started to show… we’ll talk to Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox.

Fox says the strength of the Mana/Maori Party alliance is they can talk about their differences

“The Ture Whenua is a good bill.”

Harawira called the Ture Whenua bill a poisonous cancer. Is that irrational?

Fox: Yes.

She is a refreshingly no-nonsense politician.

She says there is no impasse over the bill, they have arranged to meet and talk it over.

‘A vote for Maori Party is a vote for National’ is “ridiculous”.

“”I think we punch above our weight”.

On Little saying the Maori Party was not kaupapa – after the 4% poll Fox says that senior Labour MPs sidled up and asked if they could consider supporting Maori (but I presume that wasn’t Little).

Newshub report: Hone Harawira is whanau – Marama Fox

Video:  Interview: Marama Fox

Transcript: Lisa Owen interviews Marama Fox

Harawira slams Maori Party land bill

Hone Harawira has shown that the agreement between the Mana and Maori parties to co-operate over electorate campaigns to improve each party’s chances of election success doesn’t extend to agreement over policies.

RNZ: Mana attacks Māori Party over ‘poisonous’ land bill

The Māori Party has spearheaded a new bill proposing major changes to the governance and administration of the 27,000 titles of Māori land in New Zealand, which equate to 6 percent of the country’s total land mass.

But its new ally, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira has called the Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill “a poisonous and destructive cancer”.

“I think it opens our lands up to be bought by foreigners. It is an extremely bad piece of legislation.”

Mr Harawira said some Mana supporters have made clear they would not back the Māori Party over this bill – and he did not blame them.

“It wasn’t written with Māori interests in mind but Māori land alienation.

“It’s ugly and its crude because it’s an attempt to open up the last remaining vestiges of Māori land that are held by Māori.

Iwi leader Kerensa Johnson also warned the Māori Party that unless changes were made, it would not have their support.

There will always be differences within Maori over policies.

Differences between Maori parties is one way of debating the merits of policies – but Labour wants to represent all Maori electorates and cut the other parties out of Parliament.

Five months ago, Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell acknowledged the Māori Land Service was still being designed.

It is lack of details such as this that has Māori landowners concerned about making such sweeping changes.

Wakatū is asking Mr Flavell to rework the bill and slow down the process, but Mr Harawira wants it gone altogether. He said it was not a minor wound that could be fixed with cosmetic surgery.

Policy debate is healthy. Isn’t this one of the benefits of MMP giving multiple parties representing different constituencies a say?

Te Puni Kokiri: New Māori land law one step closer

Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill will give Māori land owners greater decision-making powers and better support for the management of Māori freehold land.

Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill passed its Second Reading in Parliament just before Christmas.

You can view the speeches in the House here.

Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill, which was introduced into Parliament in April 2016, will:

  • Give Māori land owners greater autonomy to make their own decisions
  • Provide a clearer more empowering decision-making framework
  • Strengthen protections against the alienation of Māori land
  • Lead to stronger-performing governance bodes
  • Improve the succession and dispute resolution processes and
  • Make better use of the Māori Land Court.

The new Bill also establishes a new Māori Land Service to support Māori land owners. A second nationwide round of Wānanga about the final design of this Service will be held in January 2017.

The Bill is expected to be enacted by 30 April 2017 and to come into effect by 1 October 2018.

Harawira isn’t in Parliament so won’t get to vote on it.

Labour MP Meka Whatiri seems to oppose the bill, saying it takes protections away from Maori:

I presume that means that the Labour Party also opposes the bill.

Labour versus Maori/Mana continues

Labour seems to be ramping up it’s attacks on the Maori and Mana parties, especially through Willie Jackson who won’t have to attract votes of his own, but Marama Fox has returned a co-operative serve.

List candidate Willie Jackson: GUEST BLOG: Willie Jackson – Courageous Move from Labour Māori MPs

Congratulations to Labour’s Māori seat Members of Parliament who have asked to not be included on the parties list for this year’s election.

It is a brave decision from the MPs who have surprised and outmanoeuvred their opponents.

Of course Jackson likes it, one of the aims was to allow him to jump a few more places up Labour’s party list to enhance his chances of getting into Parliament.

The line that Andrew Little pushed his MPs off the list is an insult to our Labour MPs’ intelligence, and Marama and Hone should do themselves a favour and engage their brains before they open their mouths. And in terms of this constant waffle about Andrew not being allowed to talk about Kaupapa Māori, what’s that about?

How is it that Marama Fox, Te Ururoa Flavell, and even Hone Harawira talk about Kaupapa Pākeha every day and then Marama and Te Ururoa chase their Pākeha rangatira Prime Minister Bill English around the house, challenging him ‘supposedly’ over kaupapa Pākeha issues, but the minute the Pākeha leader in Labour talks about Kaupapa Māori, they label him a racist! What a load of rubbish.

The reality is that they are shocked and hurt by how brave the Labour MPs are, and are now looking to defame and smear the decision to not go on the list because they realise that political oblivion beckons.

Loads of irony as Jackson goes hard out trying to smear them.

The Māori/Mana’s political strategy is in real trouble – we know that because they are now telling outright lies about the Labour Māori strategy. Sadly, they are desperate, worried, stressed and on edge because they know the end is near and they have been totally trumped by this move from our MPs to not stand on the list.

I guess Jackson feels he can safely attack like this because he is not putting himself forward for election himself, he has tried to work his way up the list and get in on the party vote rather than on his own merits (like the Labour Maori MPs are doing).

Kelvin Davis takes a more careful swipe: Kelvin Davis defends Labour Māori MPs’ decision not to stand on list

In an interview with The Hui, Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis described the strategy as providing “more choice to Maori”.

“It’s the greatest thing for Māori since Kupe spotted land.”

Maybe that’s just Maori rhetoric but it sounds fairly over the top.

Mr Davis told Mihingarangi Forbes he believes the strategy will bring “three of four new Māori MPs into Parliament”.

By trashing some other Maori MPs? Davis, Jackson and Andrew Little want all Maori MPs to be under Labour, which must surely reduce their power.

Meanwhile despite Jackson’s outburst Marama Fox has taken a quite different approach.

Newstalk ZB: Maori Party says it would jump sides if Labour changes govt

Party leader Marama Fox said all her party wanted was to address disparities for Maori.

She told Newstalk ZB’s Andrew Dickens if Labour changes the Government in this year’s election, the Maori Party would jump sides.

“If they are successful then we will happily work with them,” she said.

“It is better to be at the table at the decision-making end, and have as much influence as we’re able.”

This could be a clever move to counter Jackson’s confrontational approach.

But would Labour want to deal with the Maori Party? It would be interesting to see which way Labour went if they had a choice between Labour+Green+Maori Party and Labour+NZ First – especially given that the Greens are getting more pro-Maori and NZ First oppose having the Maori seats.

A Labour BLiP at The Standard

‘BLiP’ is well known at The Standard  for his list of alleged lies told by John Key. A lot of the items on that list were quite questionable, but that didn’t stop The Standard re-displaying the list from time to time.

BLiP was not required to provide evidence in support of his claims – anyone attacking Key and National in particular and also other parties at The Standard can say virtually what they like without being moderated.

Some of the moderators (BLiP is one) are much more touchy about any criticism of Labour in particular, and also criticism of their allies, the Greens.

In a recent exchange:

red-blooded 1.2.3

Peters has always said that he’d deal with the largest party first. This does suggest problems, as L/G are not one party (plus his antipathy towards the Greens is well-known and longstanding). I hope I’m wrong, but I do think we should be concerned about the idea of Winston choosing who forms the next government.

  • weka1.2.3.1

    So either that means he would first deal with National. Or, he’s going with the intent of MMP and he would deal with L/G first if they had higher numbers. But given Peters has monkeywrenched MMP I also don’t have much hope. More likely is he will imply something and then just do whatever afterwards.

    This stuff really needs to be clarified by the MSM during the election campaign.

Several claims about Winston Peters that were left unsubstantiated, as is normal.

I responded:

Pete George 1.2.3.1.2

But L/G ends on election day. It is a campaign arrangement with an end date before coalition wrangling begins.

Labour obviously want to keep their coalition options open. Particularly if NZ First gets more votes than Greens (a distinct possibility, if voters dump National they are more likely to vote NZF than Greens).

The MSM can’t clarify what Peters will do before the election. I doubt Labour will clarify what their strategy is either.

Remember that Labour has shat all over the Maori and Mana Parties and has ruled out dealing with them. That leaves either NZF or Greens.

Unless Labour+Greens can for a majority on their own the Greens are in a weak bargaining position.

[BLiP: Provide evidence of Labour having “ruled out dealing with [maori and Mana parties]” in your very next comment or do not post here again for one week. Up to you.]

Touchy, and a typical double standard.

I responded three times with different justifications for my claim. BLiP has not even acknowledged my replies, instead leaving the impression that I didn’t comply with his demand. I presume that is deliberate.

Andrew Little and Labour have made it clear they don’t want to deal with the Maori and Mana parties. They have made it clear they want to deal to them – to wipe them out of Parliament.

NZ Herald reported on Little at Ratana in January:

Labour leader Andrew Little has further distanced Labour from the Maori Party while also dismissing Hone Harawira’s Mana Movement as “irrelevant”.

Speaking at Ratana Pa near Wanganui this morning, Little all but ruled out forming a post-election coalition with the Maori Party or Mana Movement, which have agreed to work together to win back Maori seats.

Little said Labour would work with parties which had “a practical set of ideas of what can be done” for Maori.

The Maori Party had been “shackled” to the National Party for nine years, and National had failed Maori, he said.

“Why the Mana Party would want to now shackle itself to the Maori Party is entirely up to them, but they are totally irrelevant.”

Last month also from the Herald:

But it takes two to tango and Labour leader Andrew Little was putting on dancing shoes with sprigs.

He was not interested in the tango.

He was interested in the danse macabre; he wanted to kill off the Maori Party completely.

Little went into a lengthy, full-blown tirade against the Maori Party on RNZ.

He downgraded the Maori Party as a future support partner from “far from the first cab on the rank” to “simply not in my contemplation.”

He then declared the Maori Party was “not kaupapa Maori” [based on Maori values].

From Stuff in early March: Little signals Greens will be ‘first cab off the rank’ in post-election talks

“There are two other Opposition parties, apart from Labour, that we work closely together with and I contemplate both being candidates for partners or support partners to form a government.”

In an interview on The Nation earlier this month:

But do voters deserve to know that? You know, he’s a potential coalition partner. Would you countenance him as Deputy Prime Minister?Little: Voters want to know what are the parties that we have good relations with and who are likely to be part of a coalition arrange – a set of coalition arrangements. We have a good relationship with the Green Party. We have a good relationship with New Zealand First.

Okay, so you’re not ruling it out. You’re not ruling it out.

Little: If I have the privilege after the 23rd of September to form a Government, my first phone call will go to the Greens and New Zealand First will be not far behind.

Noticeably excluded are the Maori and Mana parties from Little’s contemplations and ruling in.

Why is BLiP so intent on suppressing an impression that Little has repeatedly made obvious?

I note that BLiP made no attempt to argue against Labour’s impression, he just banned and censored what he didn’t want posted.

Posted under Little’s name on the Labour Party website:

“If Māori want to see progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education, then they should back their Labour candidate.

“We have a plan to turn the position of Māori around and we’ll be running a campaign to show how Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice around the Cabinet table.”

He seems to think that Labour alone can properly serve Māori.

I’ll leave this post with this impression from Andrew Little: Maori King is ‘abusing his office’ by endorsing Rahui Papa for the Maori Party:

As to the plan to restore a relationship between Labour and Kingitanga, the Maori King movement?

“We’re going to campaign and win and we’ll beat the Maori Party,” he said.

“The problem with the King is that for whatever reason he’s allowed himself to become a mouthpiece for a single political party in a way that no previous head of Kingitanga has done.

That’s rather ironic given that Little is the mouthpiece for a single political party that  wants to be the sole representative of Maori voters.

Labour’s Maori MPs opt off list

Just last week Labour’s Maori MPs seemed at odds with leader Andrew Little over their wishes about their placement on this year’s party list. See Little versus Maori MPs on list placement.

During an interview on Morning Report responding to that deal, Mr Little said his Māori MPs were definitely not seeking the protection of a high list ranking.

“They are fearful of a high list place because they don’t want to give the impression that they are kind of being held up by belts and braces.”

When asked if they were advocating for a low list place, Mr Little said yes.

But:

The MP for Hauraki-Waikato, Nanaia Mahuta, and Kelvin Davis, MP for Te Tai Tokerau – who will be going up against the Mana leader, Hone Harawira, at the election – would not say whether they had sought a low list spot, saying that was a matter for the party.

The MP for Tai Hauauru, Adrian Rurawhe, said while he would always prefer to be an electorate MP, he had not requested a low list ranking.

The MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, Peeni Henare, also said he had made no requests about list placements.

These MPs seem to have suddenly decided to jump on board with their leader, in fact they have now said they don’t want to be on the list at all.

Andrew Little yesterday: Māori MPs backed to win seats

The Labour Party is backing a request from its Māori seat MPs to stand as electorate MPs only, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.

“We’re confident our outstanding Māori electorate MPs will win their seats.

“We take nothing for granted and our MPs will be working hard to win the trust of voters. But we’re very confident they’ll make the case this coming election given the strength of our plans and Labour’s record of delivering for Māori in government.”

Under Labour Party rules a waiver can be granted for MPs wanting to be exempted from the party list in special circumstances.

“This is a statement of Labour’s intent,” says Labour Party President Nigel Haworth.

So “special circumstances” seems to mean simply if Labour considers it a good campaign tactic.

“We back our Māori electorate MPs 100 per cent to win their seats which is why the Party agreed to the waiver. They’re an excellent group of MPs who have Labour values and Maori aspirations in the forefront of all their work.”

Māori Vice-President Tane Phillips said the decision to grant the waiver underlined how important it was for Labour to secure all the Māori seats.

“We have a strong Māori team who have worked hard to promote what matters to Māori. They are looking for a mandate so we can really start making a difference for Māori in government.”

Andrew Little says the decision was a direct challenge by the Māori MPs to the Māori Party.

“The Māori Party has failed Māori during the nine years they have been shackled to National.

“They have neglected their people for too long, thinking that the crumbs that fall off the Cabinet table are all that matters. What matters to Labour is making a positive difference for Māori.

“If Māori want to see progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education, then they should back their Labour candidate.

“We have a plan to turn the position of Māori around and we’ll be running a campaign to show how Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice around the Cabinet table.”

That was followed soon after by Kelvin Davis in Labour’s Māori MPs show strength

All of Labour’s Māori electorate members of Parliament have opted out of being on the list, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis.

“We approached the party and asked to stay off the list as a show of strength, unity and confidence in our ability to build on the success that we enjoyed at the last election.

“Labour winning six of the seven Māori electorate seats was Māori showing us we’re the preferred political party to address Māori issues. The numbers were in our favour and we’re looking to improve.

“Our election strategy is about showing how the Māori Party has failed Māori during nine years of being tethered to National’s waka.

“We back ourselves to help Māori make progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education.

“Labour has five Māori MPs in the Shadow Cabinet and we’re all up to prove why we should have the party vote.

“We’re determined to show we’re an integral part of the Labour movement. We’re committed to working together to show how Māori will be much better served with a strong Labour Māori voice in Cabinet,” says Kelvin Davis.

This could be a smart and gutsy move, but it could just as easily backfire.

It is a clear attempt to try and have the Maori Party dumped from Parliament. Labour is claiming to be the sole party necessary to represent Maori interests. I don’t know where the growing Green Maori caucus fits in there.

Maori voters have proven to be good at tactical voting, far more so  than most general electorates. They have shifted support to NZ First in the 1990s, then back to Labour, then went with the Maori Party when they split, and has been shifting back to Labour.

Stuff: Labour’s Maori MPs opt to go ‘electorate only’ and not seek list places

The move is designed to increase Maori representation in the Labour caucus and could boost the chances of more Maori getting in on the list, such as broadcaster Willie Jackson and Northland candidate Willow-Jean Prime, if they get winnable list spots.

The only thing that will boost the chances of non-electorate Maori MPs is if they are placed on the list in relation to non-Maori who are unlikely to win electorates.

Only three Labour list MPs made it into Parliament after the last election, with Little only just making the cut.

Little and other current MPs like David Parker and Trevor Mallard will be list only and may not be keen on having Willie Jackson placed above them.

The PM’s response:

“Prime Minister Bill English described it as “negative political move” because it was designed to eliminate the Maori Party from Parliament.”
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11822366

Ironically given Labour’s claims of promoting Maori interests National have chosen to give the Maori Party a place in government even though they didn’t need them.

The best way of maximising Maori representation in Parliament would actually be to vote for Labour MPs in the Maori electorates, and party vote for the Maori Party to increase the number of their MPs.

It will be fascinating to see how Maori vote in the September election.

And it will be interesting if the outcome means that Labour would require the support of the Maori party to form the next government.

RMA Bill passes 2nd reading

The Government’s contentious Resource Legislation Amendment Bill passed it’s second reading in Parliament yesterday thanks to the votes of the two Maori Party MPs.

Newshub: Resource Management Act bill passes second Parliament reading

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill passed its second reading 61-59 with National and the Māori Party supporting it and all the other parties opposed – including Government allies ACT and United Future.

The bill was held up for months because the Government didn’t have the numbers to pass it, until Environment Minister Nick Smith negotiated a deal with the Māori Party.

At the core of the bill are changes to parts of the RMA which govern environmental and planning decisions. They’re designed to make it easier for land to be developed for housing and the minister will in some circumstances be able to override council decisions.

“The reform is critical to addressing housing supply and affordability by making it easier, faster and less costly to create new sections,” Dr Smith said after the bill had passed its second reading.

“It opens up land supply and reduces the time taken to get consents.”

It’s been widely thought that the RMA needed an overhaul but there have been concerns over retaining environmental safeguards in particular.

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox says her party’s support at the second reading doesn’t mean it has put aside all its concerns.

But she’s confident “ongoing talks” with Dr Smith will resolve those issues.

Labour MP Meka Whaitiri slammed the Maori party support: Māori Party support RLA bill & lose credibility

The Māori Party have lost all credibility with their support for National’s unpopular Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (RLA) which will undermine local democracy, damage regional economies and do nothing to help Māori in to desperately needed housing, says Labour’s Local Government spokesperson Meka Whaitiri.

“This Bill introduces sweeping new powers to knock out GM rules in local plans and the Māori Party’s support is a blow to our local councils and regional economies.

“Here in Hawke’s Bay and our other GM free growing regions, food exporters are striving to have New Zealand placed as a global seller of high-value goods and our GM-free reputation is crucial to that.

“Attempting to pass off minor concessions over Iwi participation rights as a win just doesn’t cut it.

“As a former chief executive of Ngāti Kahungunu, our third largest iwi, I support council to Iwi partnerships; however there are at least 123 iwi and hapū who already have co-governance arrangements in existence.

“The Māori Party still claim a GE Free stance then vote for this bill.

“To say they’ll win further concessions at the committee stage is a cop-out and misleading.

“They made this deal with National back in November; if they haven’t negotiated the removal of the S360D powers by now, they never will.

“In a housing crisis disproportionately affecting Māori, the Māori Party have voted for a Bill that adds complexity to the Resource Management Act and makes it harder to get things done.

“Labour supports the current ability for councils to back their own local economies and make plan rules regarding GM,” says Meka Whaitiri.

Bill provisions include:

  • National planning standards to reduce complexity and cost
  • Streamlined planning process
  • Discretion for councils to exempt an activity from consents
  • Strengthening of requirements to manage natural hazard risks
  • New requirements for councils to free up land for housing
  • New provisions to enable stock exclusion from waterways
  • More generous compensation for land required for public works
  • Improved Māori participation arrangements