Northland electorate may be lost saviour for NZ First

With NZ First polling well below the 5% threshold (except in Winston’s claimed but never revealed polls) an alternative way of keeping them in Parliament is for Shane Jones to win the Northland electorate.

Jones has actually said that if voters want NZ First back in Parliament they should vote for him in Northland. But he has never yet won an electorate (this is the third he has stood in).

And a 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll on Northland doesn’t look promising for Jones or NZ First.

Candidate votes in the 2017 election:

  • Matt King 38.30%
  • Winston Peters 34.81%
  • Willow-Jean Prime 21.61%

Jones has puled out of a Q+A interview this morning saying he had another engagement after previously committing to the interview.

Interesting to see National (41%) close to Labour (38%) on the party polling there – that looks ok for National compared to recent polls, but it isn’t flash compared to the 2017 election result:

  • National 46.35%
  • Labour 30.12%
  • NZ First 13.17%
  • Greens 6.05%
  • Conservatives 0.37%
  • ACT 0.47%

NZ First party vote is well down on that at 7%, and they are headed off by ACT jumping to a remarkable 8%.

Shane Jones signals NZ First attack on immigration

It’s not a surprise to see NZ First target immigration coming in to an election campaign. NZ First had planned to launch their campaign this weekend, but that has been delayed a weekafter what seemed like urgent but minor surgery this week for Winston Peters – see Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters takes medical leave (Peters also had hospital treatment and a week off work last year).

Shane Jones was interviewed on The Nation, but ‘hinted’ at tough immigration policy, presumably leving the big announcements to Peters once he is back on deck.

Newshub: Shane Jones hints at controversial New Zealand First immigration policies despite COVID-19 border closure

Speaking to Newshub Nation on Saturday, Jones said he believes employers have “a duty” to train New Zealand workers before immigrants.

He promised New Zealand First does not intend to make it easy for language schools while acknowledging the border closure will make their business difficult regardless.

“We’ve had the COVID experience – the borders have closed and it’s hard to see when and how they will open,” he said.

“I can say New Zealand First has no agenda of making it easy for language schools which have brought migrants into New Zealand with low skill, low values and had a very disruptive and negative impact on our labour market.”

Host Simon Shepard said the border closure has removed the immigration debate from the election conversation – a claim which Jones debated.

“I’ve every confidence our leader, our Caucus and our party will have very profound things to say about immigration,” he said.

“Just watch this space – we will have sensible things to say about immigration and it may come to pass that not everyone will enjoy what we have to say,” he continued.

“We’ve got to speak about the fact that in our population of five million we cannot rely on unfettered immigration at a time when our infrastructure is creaking.”

His comments follow a February interview with Newshub Nation where Jones blasted the Government’s immigration policy, saying too many people “from New Delhi” are being allowed to settle in New Zealand.

“I think the number of students that have come from India have ruined many of those institutions,” he said about academic institutions.

Jones defended his comments despite the Prime Minister calling them “loose and wrong”.

NZ First are in for a tough battle this election, with recent poll results around 2%.

In their favour is the disproportionate amount of free publicity the media are likely to give them.

1 News: Battle for Northland seat between Matt King and Shane Jones shaping up as a must win for NZ First

Its candidate Shane Jones is trying to snatch the seat off National MP Matt King in a bid to help keep the Winston Peters-led party in Parliament.

But National’s Matt King says it’ll take more than political stunts to win the seat.

“They won’t be fooled by the game these guys are playing,” he told 1 NEWS.

The MP alleges that the Provincial Growth Fund is being used to curry favour, with Northland securing nearly $600 million.

However, Mr Jones says it’s not Northland “feeling the love”.

“All the provinces have felt the provincial love and that’s because we were elected to drive provincial development.”

PGP handouts have been somewhat overshadowed by much bigger Covid subsidies and handouts, and some PGP funds have been shifted tor Covid recovery.

List MP Willow-Jean Prime is standing for Labour again.

Labour have so far given no indication they will help NZ First in Northland. If they stick to this approach it will be difficult for Jones, who has never won an electorate.

Like Peters, Jones is a boundary pushing attention seeker.

Newshub: Shane Jones stops putting up billboards in Kerikeri after council admits error in allowing it

National MP Matt King, the current MP for Northland, accused his New Zealand First opponent earlier this week of putting up “illegal” election advertising in Kerikeri.

King argued the ‘Jones for Jobs’ billboards broke the Electoral Commission’s rules that election hoardings cannot be put up until July 18.

The Electoral Commission had a different take, explaining how it’s fine for hoardings to be up before July 18 if the local council allows it.

“Election advertising may be published at any time, except on election day. This means election hoardings can be put up at any time, subject to the rules the local council has in place.”

Newshub went to the Far North District Council – the authority overseeing the town of Kerikeri – and CEO Shaun Clarke said there were no rules against it.

“There are no active bylaws or policies which would restrict early hoardings on private land in the Far North District.”

But Clarke has contacted Newshub to say he got it wrong and that there is a rule stating election signs can be erected “no sooner than 8 weeks prior to, and then removed no later than the close of day before polling day”.

Those rules are similar to most if not all local bodies for election hoardings. The CEO should have known that.

Otago University Law Professor Andrew Geddis confirmed there is no nationwide law to say you can only put up election billboards in a specified period before the election.

Outside of that period it’s up to local councils.

“If the CEO doesn’t know his own bylaws, that’s a worry,” Geddis said.

I hope it was only ignorance of his own bylaws.

Jones should have also been well aware of the by laws, he’s been a politician for a long time and has contested several electorates, including Northland in 2008. He unsuccessfully contested Whangerei in 2017, coming third, over ten thousand votes behind current MP Shane Reti.

Peters won Northland in a by-election in 2015 when Labour told their voters to support him (and most did), but lost to King inn the 2017 general election to King by 1,389 votes.

 

 

Cape Reinga closure “cultural mumbo jumbo” as authorities puihi foot

Cape Reinga has remained closed (with a gate across the road) since lockdown, with some local Māori saying the area needs to be blessed and cleansed due to Covid-19, because after death people’s spirits travel there to depart to the afterlife.

Tourists are being blocked from visiting Cape Reinga by local Iw, with the puihi footing support of DOC and compliance of NZTA.

Earlier this week National MP Matt King tried visiting the Cape with his wife and parents and a man threatened to “knock him out” if he tried to get past the gate.

NZ First MP Shane Jones has called the claims ‘rubbish” and “cultural mumbo jumbo”.

On Wednesday (1 News):  National MP in confrontation with members of local iwi after being refused access to Cape Reinga

Dozens of tourists are being turned away from Cape Reinga by local iwi, despite tourism and hospitality in the region trying to encourage visitors to the area.

Northland MP Matt King made a video of a confrontation that took place with iwi as he tried to access the location.

“It’s my customary rights and I’m prepared to knock you out if you pass that gate,” a person blocking access says in the video.

Mr King talked to 1 NEWS about his experience.

“This is not about Covid-19, they gave me a range of reasons as to why the road was blocked. One was that DOC was doing maintenance up there, then they said it was their land.

“Northland is a beautiful place with beautiful people in it and we’ve got a lot to offer and I just want to see the roadblocks taken down and us just getting back to business”.

Ngāti Kuri says that is what it wants too, but first the sacred site must be cleansed. Māori tradition holds that after death spirits travel there to depart.

“There is a responsibility and obligation and opportunity to move us through to Level 1 by having an appropriate opening so spirits can move toward te rerenga wairua,” Harry Burkhardt of Ngāti Kuri says.

NZTA say its working with the iwi and the Department of Conservation who are restricting access until facilities are cleaned.

“Working with” appears to be allowing the road block to continue as long as those involved from Ngāti Kuri choose.

DOC fully supports Ngāti Kuri’s management of the area and says it’s working to undertake physical safety checks at the site, including walking trails, campgrounds and facilities.

A reopening ceremony will take place on May 29.

Also from NZ Herald:  `This isn’t about Covid 19′

Northland MP Matt King set off for Cape Rēinga, with his wife and parents, on Tuesday, but he didn’t get there. State Highway 1 was blocked several kilometres south of the cape, and the four people manning it had no intention of letting him past.

“I got them to admit that it was about Māori land. They told me they owned the land, and they weren’t going to let me past.”

One of those manning the gate, he said, had threatened to knock him out, while another said one phone call would bring 500 reinforcements to the gate, and that they would “eat me alive”.

A police officer was present, but did not intervene, and left when King did, following him south. (Police have given an undertaking that officers will be present at every Covid-19 checkpoint).

“He said he had been told not to take action, so he was in an impossible position, but his role had been to keep the peace. If he hadn’t been there it could have become quite ugly.”

King said he had been contacted by numerous people, including tour operators, who were concerned and upset by the road closure.

Most of them were afraid to speak publicly, so he was speaking for them.

Shane Jones never seems afraid to speak, even when criticising Māori.

Saturday (1 News): Shane Jones calls iwi’s reason for barring access to Cape Reinga ‘cultural mumbo jumbo’

“Cape Reinga has been hijacked by Ngāti Kuri and their cultural mumbo jumbo,” says Shane Jones.

“This notion that the spirits need to slumber post Covid is rubbish, this notion that the spirits are travelling to Cape Reinga to hibernate.”

The MP is of Te Aupouri and Ngai Takoto descent and says the Cape belongs to the nation and has significance to all Māori tribes.

“It’s a place of national significance that’s being tainted by people that don’t know what they’re talking about and who have no mandate.“

Jones says the iwi organisation overseeing the closure is like, “children without books, they haven’t learnt anything.”

The closure coincides with Northland industry leaders calling for people to come and visit the region.

Police wouldn’t comment on the road block instead referring the matter to the New Zealand Transport Authority which says it’s working with the Iwi and the Department of Conservation who are supporting the restricted access.

Authorities puihi foot around the issue.

If Matt King had referred to the road block as ‘rubbish’ and the need to let spirits slumber as ‘mumbo jumbo’ he would likely have been condemned by some Māori. These days it seems that only Māori  can be critical of Māori actions and cultural beliefs.

Ngāti Kuri have said they  will reopen the road with a ceremony on May 29.

Twitter reaction to political violence

The attack on James Shaw prompted many and varied comments on Twitter. It has been claimed and reported there were some despicable tweets. This one got a lot of attention:

That’s an awful attempt to justify the attack on Shaw. There have probably been others, but I’m not going to go looking for them.

But that tweet raised another string of condemnations. It was pointed out that @MattKingMP followed the above account, and that was questioned and condemned.

Should MPs (or anyone) be criticised for who they follow on Twitter? In some cases that would be justified. But some people go out of there way to find some way of linking political opponents to negative news.

I follow about 400 people on Twitter. Some of those have probably at some time said crappy things. I used to follow @WhaleOil and @laudafinem (until they blocked me), not because I support them but because I wanted to track what they were saying. I still follow @kiwiblog and @thestandard, things have been said at the related blogs that I have condemned.

It’s difficult to monitor everything that is said on Twitter by people you follow. It depends on time (I don’t have Twitter available all the time) and it also depends on what Twitter displays on your feed.

I think that MPs have greater problems with this. The aim of social media is to connect to as many people as possible, some people rate popularity depending on number of follows and followers and tweets. It’s a flawed measurement, but it happens.

And most MPs won’t have the time to carefully check Twitter and especially check or know what every account they follow  is saying and has said.

But MPs leave themselves open to criticism because some people will look for whatever they can to dump on them.

There are no easy answers.

Another angle on Twitter to the Shaw assault was this thread from Neale Jones:

He may make some fair points (and possibly some unfair ones. Important issues are raised but the timing and link to Shaw makes it look like political opportunism to attack those politicians he frequently and strongly criticises.