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

 

Labour v Maori Party continued

The election campaign gloves are off between Labour and the Maori Party, and another round was fought in Parliament today. Kelvin Davis tried to score a hit on Te Ururoa Flavell, but Marama Fox joined the fray to hit back with a Willie Jackson jab.

Jackson had heaped praise on the Maori Party’s success in Government in June last year = see Opinion: Willie Jackson at Stuff.

I have to take my hat off to Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell for keeping the kaupapa of the Maori Party beating while gaining wins from the Government in the 2016 Budget.

Jackson is now putting himself forward for the Labour list.

Winston Peters tried to score with a jab too, but it was a swing and a miss. At least he didn’t end up with egg on his face like Davis and Labour.

Māori Development, Minister—Confidence

8. KELVIN DAVIS (Labour—Te Tai Tokerau) to the Minister for Māori Development: Does he have confidence that his leadership of Te Puni Kōkiri and its programmes are resulting in the best outcomes for Māori?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Māori Development): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou. Tēnā koe tēnā pātai. I believe that thousands of whānau up and down the country are being well supported by Te Puni Kōkiri to achieve better outcomes. Our whānau deserve the best possible support they can get, which is why I have high expectations of all Government agencies and their leadership, including myself, to deliver to our people—to Māori people.

Kelvin Davis: How does he reconcile that view that he is doing his best for Māori when the gap in median weekly earnings between Māori and Pākehā has risen 47 percent since his party shacked up with this Government?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The member asked about better outcomes, and to take an example—let me highlight just one or two. I will start with Māori housing, for example: 344 whānau communities like in Kaeō in the member’s electorate are now in safer, warmer, and heathier—

Kelvin Davis: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was around median weekly earnings.

Mr SPEAKER: No, the member then added something that almost caused me to rule the question out of order, and he referred to a coalition arrangement in some rather political terms, so that gives a very wide ambit to the Minister in answering the question.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: If I can continue with this fine record, 344 whānau and communities, like Kaeō, are now in safer, warmer, and healthier homes. Sixty whānau and communities, like Ōmāpere, are now in new affordable rental homes. Homeless whānau are now getting better support in communities like Kaeō and Kaitāia through emergency housing projects. I was pleased to see, for example, the member in Kaitāia—the member and me; both of us together—launching and supporting Ricky Houghton in his housing project. Those sorts of projects are producing good outcomes for our people and I am pleased to be supporting them.

Kelvin Davis: Does he believe, as Minister for Māori Development, that the selling off of State houses is rangatiratanga, as his colleague stated, when Māori are four times more likely to be waiting for a State house despite all of those things he has just gone through?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Speaking about housing, we disagree with the submission put through by that member at the moment. But I can say, on the opposite side, for example, that in the community of Ngāruawāhia, where I had the privilege to be probably just about a week ago, there was the opening of te Turner papakāinga housing. It is a nine bedroom home that will house four generations—10 adults and nine tamariki. Those are the sorts of projects that are really benefiting Māori and getting better outcomes for our people. Those are the sorts of projects that Te Puni Kōkiri are supporting, and those are the projects that I am proud to be Minister to advocate for.

Kelvin Davis: Does he, as Minister for Māori Development, believe that, given lower Māori life expectancy, it is fair that the age of superannuation is raised?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Talking about life expectancy, one of the great things that I have to be proud about is a funding allocation of $2 million this year to support initiatives aimed at reducing rangatahi suicide, including video resources and hui. Those are the sorts of things that are positive.

Hon Members: Answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am going invite the member to ask that question again.

Kelvin Davis: My point of order is that I asked whether it is fair—

Mr SPEAKER: No, no, I have asked will the member please ask the question again.

Kelvin Davis: OK. Does he, as Minister for Māori Development, believe that, given lower Māori life expectancy, it is fair that the age of superannuation is raised?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: That is a Government policy. In terms of the Māori Party view of that—as one part of the coalition arrangement with the Government—we believe that our policy is clear: to maintain the age as it is at present. That is our view.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member is answering as a Minister on behalf of the Government. It is not his job as a Minister to give a party perspective; it is his job to answer on behalf of the Government as a Minister in the Government.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: I do not think there is much to talk about, but I will hear from the Hon Gerry Brownlee.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: It was established in this House by Helen Clark and, in fact, Jim Anderton and the new hope for the Labour Party, Laila Harré, that a person who is a Minister inside a coalition Government, when asked a question about their party’s policy, could answer so.

Mr SPEAKER: I need no further help, but I thank both members for their assistance. In this case a very clear question was asked, and I think that the Minister answered it very satisfactorily.

Kelvin Davis: When Māori unemployment is rising, the wage gap is growing, health outcomes are getting worse, and homeownership is a fantasy, how can he, with a straight face, say that Māori are getting positive outcomes under his watch?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The gist of the questions asked by the member is about responsibility, and I take those responsibilities really seriously. Can we do better? Of course we can do better, and my hope is to do that by way of advocating through my role as the Minister for Māori Development. For example, in Whānau Ora $40 million over 4 years is about addressing those issues that the member has put in front of the Parliament today. In terms of business and innovation, it is about moving families to get into positions of self-sustaining businesses, and so on—again, $4 million over 4 years. Those are the gains that we have been able to achieve to address best outcomes for our people. I think they need to be applauded.

Mr SPEAKER: Question No. 9—[Interruption] The member has used her supplementary question.

Marama Fox: Sorry, we had an agreement to have another supplementary question allocated. That is my understanding.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I can see that the chief Government whip is saying that is true, but it is helpful for me, in running question time, if I am made aware of such arrangements.

Marama Fox: Apologies, Mr Speaker, and thank you for your indulgence. Has the Minister read any reports about the very good work that he and Te Puni Kōkiri are doing?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: As it happens, I do. If I can quote from that report: “I have to take my hat off to the Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell for keeping the kaupapa of the Māori Party beating while gaining wins from the Government in the 2016 Budget.” The quote goes on: “in the past two years, he has done a good job for Māori and can feel satisfied with a new Whanau Ora injection of another $40 million over the next four years—a total of $72 million a year in welfare, education and health spending to go through Whanau Ora providers.” That quote came from the newest member of the Labour Party, Willie Jackson. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order and I expect to hear it in silence.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The Hon Te Ururoa Flavell said it was a report. That being the case, can I ask him to table it.

Mr SPEAKER: This is easily arranged if the Minister was quoting from an official document. Was the Minister quoting from an official document?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: No, Mr Speaker, from a radio broadcast.

Mr SPEAKER: Then the matter is resolved.

 

 

Little on failing Maori

Labour have often been accused of taking their Maori support and Maori seats for granted. They lost seats when the Maori MPs split and formed the Maori Party, but they have won all but one of them back.

In an interview on The Nation Andrew Little blasted the Maori Party – “the Maori Party has totally failed Maori” but avoided acknowledging he had demoted his Maori MPs.

Lisa Owen: So the Maori King has given Nanaia Mahuta a serve this week and is putting his support behind the potential Maori Party candidate in Hauraki-Waikato. He says she’s got no mana after being moved down the party rankings. Do you take responsibility for that loss of mana because you demoted her?

Andrew Little: No. I think if the Maori King wants to hitch his wagon to a failing National Party and a Maori Party that has just totally failed Maori, failed to deliver anything meaningful to Maori, it’s his prerogative.

Lisa Owen: This is about Nanaia Mahuta being moved down the rankings, Mr Little.

Andrew Little: I backed Nanaia, who is not only in my shadow cabinet but in the front bench, and—

Lisa Owen: No, she’s not on the front bench, Mr Little.

Andrew Little: Yes, she is.

Lisa Owen: No, she’s not. The front bench in Parliament—The physical front bench in Parliament is, what, eight seats? She’s not on that front bench.

Mahuta is currently ranked 11. Here is the seating plan as at 8 March 2017, after Jacinda Ardern’s promotion to deputy this week:

LabourSeatingParliament

Mahuta is clearly not on the front bench. Was Little trying to fib, or did he not remember where Mahuta was placed?

Andrew Little: She is in the group that meets every week to lead the direction of the caucus and the party. She’s in that group.

Lisa Owen: How many spots did she drop down, Mr Little?

Andrew Little: We have two Maori on the front row—

Lisa Owen: Mr Little, for clarity, how many spots has she dropped down?

Andrew Little: She has—We have two Maori on the front bench. We have, I think now, five Maori in our shadow cabinet.

I can see just one Maori MP in the front row, Kelvin Davis.

Mahuta and Whatiri are in the second row.

Henare (who Labour tried to move out of his electorate), Rurawhe and Tirikatene are in the back row,

Lisa Owen: Do you not want to answer that question? How many spots has she dropped down?

Andrew Little: But you’re—If you—

Lisa Owen: How many spots, Mr Little? It’s a simple question.

Andrew Little: If you want to run to me the Maori Party line, by all means, you know, go ahead. I back our Maori caucus. We have an outstanding Maori caucus.

Lisa Owen: You demoted Nanaia Mahuta.

Mahuta was 6 on Labour’s list in 2014 (Davis was 18). David Cunliffe promoted Mahuta to 4, but Little dropped her to 11.

Andrew Little: We have in Nanaia an outstanding advocate for Maori. She’s doing terrific things for Maniapoto right now, and we’re going to have a fantastic Maori caucus after the election and they’re not going to be the lap dogs of anybody. They’re not going to be called in on a grace and favour basis, as Maori MPs are with the National Party right now.

Lisa Owen: Mr Little, how many spots did you demote her?

Andrew Little: They are part of the Labour DNA. They’ll be sitting around that Cabinet table. They’ll be sitting around the caucus, and Labour will be capable of doing way more for Maori than the Maori Party, shackled to the National Party, could ever do.

Current ranking of all of Labour’s Maori MPs:

  • Kelvin Davis 7
    Spokesperson for Māori Development
    Spokesperson for Corrections
    Spokesperson for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
  • Nanaia Mahuta 11
    Spokesperson for Conservation
    Spokesperson for Whānau Ora
  • Meka Whaitiri 13
    Spokesperson for Local Government
    Associate Primary Industries Spokesperson. Associate Food Safety Spokesperson, Economic Development (incl Regional Development), Trade and Export Growth.
  • Peeni Henare 22
    Spokesperson for Urban Māori, Māori Broadcasting, & State Services.
    Associate Māori Development and Economic Development.
  • Adrian Rurawhe 24
    Spokesperson for Internal Affairs
    Associate Education (Māori) Spokesperson
    Caucus Secretary
  • Rino Tiraketene 28
    Spokesperson for Fisheries
    Spokesperson for Customs

None of those are major portfolios, although Davis has been getting some attention with Corrections.

In his ‘State of the Nation’ speech in January Little made no mention at al of any Maori issues – see Maori 0f Little importance?

Mahuta faces a major challenge from a Maori Party candidate endorsed by the Maori king in her Hauraki-Waikato electorate.

See Maiki Sherman: What the King’s move means in Māori Game of Thrones

King Tuheitia then turned to politics. He spoke of having kept a close eye on Parliament since his surprise address at last year’s coronation celebrations. It was there he severed all ties to Labour. Part of this was due to Labour’s demotion of Nanaia Mahuta.

“Just looking what Labour has done to Nanaia… she’s gone right to the backbench now.”

There were sighs from the marae. Not of surprise but of sadness.

“To me she’s got no mana in there now,” he said.

King Tuheitia then expressed his dismay at Labour’s newly elected deputy leader, Jacinda Ardern. “She’s only been in there five minutes…how long’s Nanaia been in there? 21 years.”

He criticised Labour’s treatment of its other Māori MPs, including Peeni Henare. If you’re wondering what he’s referring to, here’s a reminder – Willie Jackson, Tāmaki Makaurau.

Little is being strongly challenged by King Tuheitia on his apparent lack of commitment to Maori MPs.

Making false claims about Mahuta’s Labour ranking won’t help her or Little’s mana in Maoridom.

With just two seats the Maori Party has been limited in what they could do in Government but they can claim achievements.

Little even acknowledges this by having a Spokesperson for Whanau Ora – Nanaia Mahuta.Whanau Ora is regarded as a cornerstone of the Maori Party coalition agreement with National.

Is the Maori Party failing? Or is Little failing on Maori?

 

Super age change unlikely

It looks unlikely there will be any change to the age of eligibility for national superannuation despite Bill English saying he wouldn’t continue John Key’s commitment to not change it – see English open about superannuation.

English said there could be small changes to National’s Super policy but nothing drastic.

David Seymour has taken the opportunity to push for raising the age, but ACT are unlikely to be in a position to demand it in any coalition negotiations.

Winston Peters has confirmed that no age change is a bottom line for NZ First – Winston Peters’ coalition hinges on retirement age.

Mr Peters has promised the age would stay the same, at 65, and has made it one of his top bottom-lines going into any post-election deals.

“Not reneging on promises made to the retired and soon-to-retire people of this country is very important,” he told Newshub.

While “one of his top bottom-lines” doesn’t sound definite it would be a big shock if Peters agreed to an age increase. This is one policy he has remained consistent on.

The Maori Party is also unlikely to support any increase.

With Māori life expectancy rate lower than that of the general population, the Māori Party wants Māori and Pasifika to be exempt from any increase.

One of its policies is to reduce the superannuation age to 60 for Māori and Pasifika people.

So it is unlikely that National will push for an increase in election policy unless it looked like they could get a majority on their own, and it would be a huge surprise if they did have a majority on their own.

And Andrew Little has scrapped Labour’s Super age increase policy so if they form the next government it is unlikely to be considered.

This makes all the conjecture and political posturing a bit pointless.

UPDATE: English has just said on RNZ that there will be “no change to the entitlement” but it wasn’t clarified exactly what that refers to eg age or amount or universality.

On RNZ  Peters has just said that it’s not a bottom line for NZ First but that people could trust their consistency on the Super age for the past 25 years. “We’re not going to compromise”.

Labour/Maori MoU

In contrast to the Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Greens all Labour seems to have for the Maori Party and MANA Movement is Memories of Utu

Ever since Maori MPs split from Labour and created the Maori Party in 2004 Labour seem have wanted revenge, or at least nothing to do with a party competing for the Maori seats in Parliament.

Leading in to the 2005 election:

SAINSBURY: If you had to, could you deal with the Maori Party in terms of forming a coalition? Yes or no.

HELEN CLARK: They would be the last cab off the rank, because I’ve got other options.

Twelve years later Andrew Little’s Labour seems antagonistic towards both the Maori and MANA cabs, wanting to slash their tyres and smash their windows. Little has all but ruled out trying to work with either party in government.

But does this make any sense apart from exacting utu on the party that split from Labour?

Labour are in a weak position and may all the potential coalition partners it can get, if not to form a government with but at least to strengthen their negotiating position.

It would probably be much easier to get Green and Maori parties working together in coalition than the Greens and NZ First.

Last month Bryce Edwards wrote in Labour’s balancing act with Mana-Maori:

Of course Andrew Little has no choice but to support his Maori MPs, and it may be politically astute to distance Labour from the Maori Party and Harawira before the election. But a ruthless examination of Labour’s path to government would suggest that losing the Maori seats would not necessarily be a disaster.

While Little’s comments have been interpreted as “all but” ruling out working with the Maori party, it would be foolish to damage the relationship and re-kindle the bitterness that existed when Tariana Turia was leader.

It’s a delicate MMP balancing act that requires party leaders to look beyond the individual and factional interests of their MPs in order to secure the treasury benches.

Labour seem to think differently, having ramped up their attacks and antagonism towards the Maori Party and since they have joined forces also MANA.

At The Standard in Kaupapa Pākehā Weka wrote yesterday:

I understand why Labour need to be pragmatic around the Māori seats. Not only is this traditional Labour territory, it will be important to the Māori MPs in the party. There’s mana at stake. But technically Labour don’t need to win the Māori seats to govern. They could lose the six of the seven seats they hold and it wouldn’t affect the number of Labour MPs in parliament, because Labour get their MP total off the list vote.

It would affect the balance of MPs across the house (in part to do with the overhang issue), and I’m sure Labour have been crunching the numbers, but there are other ways that this could play out. Labour don’t need the Māori seats, but they do need coalition partners.

This raises an interesting point.

Of course Labour would like to have all the Maori seats, but that’s not what will get them into government. They need to improve their all important party vote.

Stirring up and dividing the Maori vote may work against Labour’s overall interests.

There is a jarring contrast between Labour and the Greens trying to show how well they can get on and work together.

NZ Herald: Greens’ Julie Anne Genter and Labour’s Jacinda Ardern strike up friendship in Mt Albert

The least bitter rivalry in New Zealand politics has broken out in the Mt Albert by-election, with the two leading candidates striking up a new friendship.

The Greens’ Julie Anne Genter and Labour’s Jacinda Ardern have been car-pooling to events together and handing out leaflets side by side.

Genter, who is the Greens’ health and transport spokeswoman, said she had built up a close relationship with Ardern on the campaign trail.

“It’s been really fun being on the campaign with her. We get on really well and I’ve really appreciated it.

Genter and Ardern have made a point of not attacking each other to show their parties can work together under their Memorandum of Understanding.

In contrast Little has been vigorously attacking the Maori parties over the last few weeks, with things escalating this week.

Bitter battles seem to be overriding common sense.

If Labour want to increase their party vote, which is what they need more than any Maori seats if they want to get back into government, then they should be showing they can work with any other party, including Maori and MANA.

If not they are both limiting their chances of maximising their party vote, limiting their coalition negotiating strength and limiting their coalition options.

I’m not the only one baffled at Labour’s approach.

Memories of Utu seem to dominate their thinking, which puts their party vote and their coalition options at risk.