Mahuta’s speech to UN Indigenous Issues forum

It’;s not often we hear of Nanaia Mahuta, She has been a Labour MP since 1996, and has been Minister for Māori Development since 2017.

She has just given a speech to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She spoke of the importance of Māori language, culture, history and identity in New Zealand, and also of taking “a more holistic approach to our wellbeing and prosperity”.


United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

New Zealand statement

Delivered by Honorable Nanaia Mahuta

Te Minita Whanaketanga Māori

New Zealand Minister for Māori Development

22 Paenga-whāwhā 2019

23 April 2019

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, tēnā koutou katoa. New Zealand would like to acknowledge the Onondaga, the indigenous peoples of this land, and those of other countries. As well as Member states and their representatives gathered here today.

I wish to take a moment to extend New Zealand’s condolences to the Government and people of Sri Lanka at this time. New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism. We reject all forms of extremism and stand for freedom of religion and the right to worship safely.

The Māori language is an important aspect of who we are as New Zealanders and how we value Māori culture, history and identity. The International Year of Indigenous Languages gives us an opportunity as a country to reflect on and invigorate our efforts to protect and revitalise te reo Māori. We are also mindful we have much to learn from others’ experience.

There is a saying amongst the Māori people that embodies a worldview and body of knowledge:

o “Ko tōku reo, tooku ohooho, tōku māpihi maurea tōku whakakai mārahi.”

o “My language is my precious gift, my essence of affection and my most prized treasure.”

Our experience demonstrates that legal protection for indigenous language and greater clarity for the role of Government to actively protect and revitalise indigenous language is a positive step forward that will transform the development aspirations for Māori.

Indigenous language educational pathways broadcasting and digital platforms, community development initiatives and public sector language planning can strengthen revitalisation efforts and we continue our country’s commitment to this approach.

A Māori worldview seeks out a wellbeing vision that puts our children and future descendants at the forefront to achieve intergenerational wellbeing. But we do not forget the ways of our tūpuna, our ancestors. We seek to keep alive our stories, our histories and our aspirations in the words handed down to us, from our ancestors and pass this knowledge on to our children.

Connection, a sense of belonging and a place to Be is transmitted through language, they are the basic precepts of social cohesion and inclusion. This highlights the importance of indigenous languages to indigenous peoples.

In New Zealand, we recognise that we need to look beyond GDP as a measure of progress and take a more holistic approach to our wellbeing and prosperity.  We seek to lift the wellbeing outcomes in areas where there is significant inequity.  Children, Māori, women, the disabled, and elderly feature predominantly in these areas of vulnerability and are a reason we are taking a different path.

We realise we cannot continue to take the same old approaches and expect different outcomes – we know that new ways are needed, and we know that indigenous wellbeing requires recognition of culture, language, knowledge and identity to build social cohesion, an inclusive and more resilient future.

New Zealand’s Living Standards Framework is one way we are addressing this, not just for the benefit of Māori people, but for the benefit of the nation.

We continue to participate in the dialogue of the Permanent Forum to emphasise the measures we are taking to implement the intent of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigneous Peoples.

No reira tēnā ano koutou.

Waikeria ‘mega prison’ won’t be built but Government remains vague

Decisions on what to do about an escalating New Zealand prison population are still pending, but the government has revealed it has ruled out building a 2.500 bed prison expansion at Waikeria. other options are being considered.

Limited measures were announced in the Budget. Grant Robertson:

Our goal is to stop the spiralling prison population and reduce it by 30 percent over the next 15 years.

To respond to unavoidable short-term pressures, this Budget will fund accommodation for 600 more prisoner places in rapid-build modular units. Meanwhile, initiatives are being developed to reduce the number of people in prison, while keeping New Zealanders safe.

Three days later the Waikeria expansion was raised by Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta in a TVNZ Marae discussion – Questions surround prison after Maori Development Minister says they won’t throw ‘$1 billion at a prison Waikeria’

Appearing on TVNZ1’s Marae, Nanaia Mahuta was answering a question from National MP Jami-Lee Ross about what the budget meant for struggling families.

“We aren’t going to throw 1 billion dollars at a prison in Waikeria. We want to put it into the regional economy,” Ms Mahuta said today.

Broadcaster Miriama Kamo asked Ms Mahuta directly if that meant the prison was a no-go.

“Let’s clarify, did you just say there will not be a mega prison in Waikeria?”

Ms Mahuta said it was a matter for the Corrections minister to decide.

“I think if you build bigger prisons, they’ll get filled.”

Finance Minister Grant Robertson was quick to respond:

This prompted more questions. Stuff: Government says Waikeria won’t be ‘mega prison’, but a wider decision is pending

Asked for further comment Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said the wider decision was still pending but confirmed the “mega-prison” plans would not go ahead. However, he left the option open to expand the prison more moderately.

“We are looking at all the options to deal with the rising prison population and our current capacity crisis,” Davis said.

“I can confirm, we will not be building a mega prison with 2500 beds as proposed by the National government.

“But that decision alone does not deal with the challenges I have mentioned. And we will take action, but it will be considered and not reactive.”

Davis said he would be taking his time to make the right decision, looking at “all the options across the board”. He said he would be working with Justice Minister Andrew Little and Police Minister Stuart Nash.

The 600 prison beds announced in the budget will help address the problem, but only partially.

On Friday…

 …the union representing prison workers was calling on the Government to make a decision soon.

“All prison staff, including Community Corrections staff working in prisons, are under constant pressure, because prisons are so overcrowded they can’t do the rehabilitation work inmates need,” Public Services Association organiser Willie Cochrane said.

“600 beds will not be enough to ease the current crisis, because so many of the current prison areas are not fit to house inmates.

“If that expansion isn’t going ahead, we want to hear what more he’ll do to expand the capacity of our prisons in the short term and keep our members safe in the workplace.”

Cochrane said on Sunday…

…his members wanted a clearer response.

“Frankly, this comment from the Minister leaves us none the wiser,” Cochrane said.

“Our members welcome Labour’s commitment to cut the number of people in prison. But right now, the system is close to breaking point, and our members are getting frustrated at the time the government is taking to reach a decision.”

Labour has been vague on how they would address the growing prison population since before the election. Last August (The Spinoff):

Labour’s policy announcements have so far been all but silent on criminal justice policy. Other than 1,000 additional frontline police – a commitment that will significantly fuel rather than stem the prison population – there is no clear plan to tackle prisons. Indeed, Davis’ announcement-not-announcement of a prison run on tikanga Māori values was quickly quashed by then Labour leader Andrew Little. Until now, a question mark has hovered over Labour’s corrections policy.

Davis and his rise to the role of deputy leader of the Labour Party may yet represent one of the most exciting developments in prison policy in decades. Backed by a leader with a similarly clear vision for a more effective and humane approach to crime and punishment, a seismic shift in corrections policy could come by way of a Labour-Greens government.

With an incumbent prime minister who famously labelled prisons as “a moral and fiscal failure” and a minister of corrections desperately seeking options to reduce the prison population, Labour can put forward a radical platform to overhaul the prison system and National will be unable to do much more than nod along in agreement. There is the very real possibility – pinch me now – that this election we could see a rational, evidence-based debate on the way forward for New Zealand’s broken prison system. Let’s do that.

There has been little sign of “a rational, evidence-based debate on the way forward for New Zealand’s broken prison system”, just vagueness and delays.

Davis, Little and Labour are going  to have to make some major decisions on prisons and imprisonment rates soon.

Peters pulls rank and blows off two Labour Māori MP initiatives

Winston Peters sounds like he is acting Prime Minister already, throwing cold water on two initiatives being promoted by Labour MPs, a bill to protect Māori seats, and aims to make Te Reo compulsory in schools.

Predictably, Rino Tirikatene’s Māori seats entrenchment bill drawn from the members’ ballot has a promise of failure with both National and NZ First indicating they won’t support it.

Stuff: A bill to entrench the Māori seats won’t get NZ First or National support

A Labour MP’s bill to entrench the seven Māori seats will not have the numbers to pass due to opposition from both NZ First and National.

Rino Tirikatene, who holds the Te Tai Tonga seat for Labour, had his member’s bill drawn out of the ballot last week.

His bill would give the seven Māori seats the same protection as the general seats, meaning a 75 per cent majority is needed to overturn them – currently Māori seats can be abolished with a majority of just 51 per cent.

But NZ First leader Winston Peters who campaigned on a referendum to abolish the Māori seats at last year’s election said his colleague Shane Jones’ position that neither he or any of the party’s MPs would vote in favour of it was a “fair summation”.

It’s understood the National Party also plans to oppose the bill – the Opposition’s position on the Māori seats is that they’ll stay as long as Māori want them but they don’t stand candidates in the seats.

The NZ First caucus will officially decide which way its voting when it meets next week but Peters said entrenching the Māori seats was “not part and parcel of any coalition agreement and we’re here to promote the coalition agreement we’ve got”.

“Views like (Tirikatene’s) can nevertheless be promoted by backbenchers but they cannot command the coalition agreement as a consequence,” Peters said.

Peters is deputy PM at the moment, but it sounds like he is practicing for when he takes over as acting PM next month.

And Labour MPs trying to talk up Te Reo in schools have been been told to ‘watch their words’ by Peters.

Stuff: Winston Peters on compulsory te reo talk: ‘If they want to be in this Government they’ll be on the same page’

NZ First leader Winston Peters says if Nanaia Mahuta and Willie Jackson want to be in the Government they will need to watch their words.

Māori Development Minister Mahuta said compulsory te reo in schools was a matter of “not if but going to be when” on Tuesday morning.

This was a slight shift from the Government’s current policy, which only calls for “universal availability” and integration of Te Reo into the primary school curriculum by 2025. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has specifically avoided the word “compulsory.”

Associate Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson made a similar slip up in December.

Peters, the deputy prime minister and leader of NZ First – who oppose compulsory te reo – issued a sharp rebuke towards Mahuta and Jackson on Tuesday afternoon.

“Neither of them are speaking for the Government policy full stop. If they want to be in this Government they’ll be on the same page.”

If he pushes his deputy weight around like this what will he be like as acting PM?

With Peters at apparent liberty to pick and choose what he won’t support this will make the Greens look like wimps if they roll over for NZ First and Labour and support the flawed and widely opposed waka jumping bill.

 

Two Maori seats appear to be safe

There had been reports that Te Ururoa Flavell was being run very close by Labour’s Tamati Coffey in Waiariki, but a Maori television/Reid Research poll suggests otherwise.

  • Te Ururoa Flavell (Maori Party) 60.1%
  • Tamati Coffey (Labour) 39.9%

It was a small sample size of 400 but that looks to be a comfortable lead. If Flavell wins this the Maori Party will be safely back into Parliament.

And Nanaia Mahuta is even more comfortable in Hauraki-Waikato:

  • Nanaia Mahuta (Labour) 78%
  • Rahui Papa (Maori Party) 22%

The Maori King’s backing of the Maori Party doesn’t seem to have made any difference there.

But both polls were had small sample sizes of 400 and were conducted from 11 July to 3 September, an unusually long polling period.

Both polls included party support but over such a period makes them of dubious value now.

http://www.maoritelevision.com/news/regional/flavell-runs-polls

http://www.maoritelevision.com/news/regional/house-mahuta-rules-polls

 

 

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?

 

Maori king versus Nanaia Mahuta

King Tuheitia has endorsed one of his advisors to stand for the Maori Party in the Hauraki-Waikato electorate, which will put him up against Labour’s Nanaia Mahuta.

This is a significant challenge to Mahuta and Labour.

Stuff: King Tuheitia endorses Maori Party candidate and tells Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta to step aside

Labour MP and Maori stalwart Nanaia Mahuta says King Tuheitia’s influence over his people will be tested on election day when those in the Hauraki-Waikato electorate cast their vote.

Mahuta’s shaking off the Maori King’s criticisms of her and his endorsement of Rahui Papa – one of the King’s advisors – for the Maori Party in her seat.

Tuheitia made the rare move of endorsing Papa at Parawera Marae, south of Hamilton, on Thursday.

He called for Mahuta, his cousin, to stand aside and let someone else represent the seat because she no longer has any “mana” in parliament.

Rare? I think this is unprecedented.

Mahuta seems to be virtually invisible in Parliament. Maori MPs often do a lot of work under the media radar in their electorates, but being so openly challenged in her home patch is a major challenge for Mahuta.

Mahuta has represented the electorate for more than 20 years but says she has never been “formally endorsed” by Kingitanga, the Maori King movement, and Thursday’s events were an “odd situation”.

Quite an odd situation.

Labour demand Maori “open the books”

Nanaia Mahuta, in a press release under the New Zealand Labour Party, has asked for the President of the Maori Party to disclose “honorariums and fees paid”.

Does Mahuta think this should just apply to Tuku Morgan, or to all political party officials? There would be some interest in Labour making a full disclosure about how, for example, Matt McCarten is going to be paid as Andrew Little’s ‘outreach’ appointments secretary.

It doesn’t appear that Mahuta is offering to fully disclose all of her income.

Tribe footing the bill for Maori Party?

Waikato-Tainui deserve committed representation, yet the President of the Maori Party is muddying the waters by confusing the core business of the tribe with party politics, says Labour’s Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta.

“The only way to fix this growing negative perception is for Tuku Morgan to disclose the honorariums and fees paid for the work he purports to undertake on the tribe’s behalf.

“Someone’s footing the bill and it shouldn’t be the tribe.

“The people I represent at the coal-face work are struggling to get work or are holding a couple of jobs down just to put kai on the table.

“They want a Government who will bat for them when it comes to security in the workplace, affordable rentals and real housing options. They want someone in the electorate who they can trust, and who will put the needs of real people first.

“From what I understand, Tuku Morgan as a member of the Waikato River Authority, a member of Tainui Group Holdings, a member of Te Arataura and several Kiingitanga appointments which provide an annual income close to that of the Prime Minister.

“I’m sure that the tribe would not want its charitable status affected if it starts footing the bill for political activity. So open the books Mr President of the Maori Party,” says Nanaia Mahuta.

This is an odd demand from Mahuta – if it is a demand, it may be just an attempt to stir things up amongst Tainui, to cast aspersions knowing that Morgan’s nor her nor Labour’s books will be opened.

RNZ followed up on Mahuta’s press release: Mahuta questions Māori Party president’s roles

Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta is calling for transparency from Māori Party president Tukoroirangi Morgan, saying he may be confusing iwi business with politics.

The Labour MP said she believed their iwi, Waikato-Tainui, deserved committed representation, and the only way to fix what she said was a growing negative perception would be for Mr Morgan to disclose exactly what he did for the iwi.

She said she did not have evidence that he was being paid by the iwi but it was a question that had been raised by her constituents.

No evidence but she does a Winston anyway.

“There is a growing level of unease across people who have reflected their concerns to me about a blurring of boundaries in terms of Tuku’s role as a representative of the tribe in various capacities and also [as] the president of the Māori Party – and somebody is paying for what he is doing.”

Ms Mahuta did not believe there was a high enough level of disclosure from Mr Morgan, certainly in his tribal capacity about what he was reportedly being paid and what he was doing on the tribe’s behalf.

Ms Mahuta said: “This is a direct response to the issues that Tuku has raised challenging the effort of Labour Party Māori members.

“I’m just asking a question and I think it’s a fair one.”

I don’t think demanding party officials disclose all their income is the done thing. It isn’t ‘fair’ unless Mahuta and the Labour Party are prepared to do likewise.

Asked if this was an indication she was going to stand for the Hauraki-Waikato Māori electoral seat next year, she said: “This is a signal that if Tuku wants to make real the challenge he has put to Labour, he better announce his candidates early.”

It’s an indication that things are hotting up in the Waikato, and between the Maori Party and the Labour Party.

Mahuta has normally been a very low profile MP, if nothing else this seems to have prompted her to be more visible. Perhaps she intends to fight for her electorate.

Recently the Māori King said in his annual speech that he would no longer vote for the Labour Party.

Possible by-elections

There’s a couple of probable and several more possible by-elections in store before next year’s election (NBR’s Rob Hosking has suggested John Key should call an early election for later this year but I don’t see that happening).

It’s expected that Phil Goff will win the Auckland mayoralty so a Mt Roskill by-election seems very likely.

Maurice Williamson has just been appointed Consul-General in Los Angeles. Williamson had already indicated he would retire at the next election but now a by-election in his Pakuranga electorate looks possible, but RNZ says that “his start date is expected to be set late enough to avoid triggering a by-election”.

There has been speculation (but no definite sign) that Nanaia Mahuta may resign from Parliament. If she does that well before next year’s election then there would be a by-election in her Hauraki-Waikato electorate.

If the Auditor General comes down hard on Murray McCully over the Saudi sheep deal then McCully may bring forward his exit from his East Coast Bays electorate (he has announced he will step down at the next election).

It ‘has been rumoured’ (according to Matthew Hooton) that David Shearer might be offered ‘a senior appointment’ and leave his Mt Albert electorate. Shearer is at odds with Labour leader Andrew Little, regarded as too right wing.

Hooton is also speculating that Stuart Nash, another non-left Labour MP, may jump to the NZ First waka (there has been alternate party speculation and rumour with Nash for years). That would put his Napier seat up for grabs (I think that’s unlikely before the next general election).

 

Māori political play looks credible

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

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

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

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

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

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

National could be the main benefactors – apart from Māori.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The King’s Hand – Tukoroirangi Morgan

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Marriage of Convenience – Mana Party

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

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

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

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

The Political Pawn – Māori Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Princess – Nanaia Mahuta

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Outcast – Andrew Little

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

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

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

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

The Gatekeeper – John Key

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

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

The Māori King could save Key from Winston the Kingmaker.

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

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

Yes, a lot could happen in the next year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fascinating.

Reactions to predator free target

Some reactions to Government sets target to make New Zealand ‘predator-free’ by 2050

@rodemmerson:

Green Party conservation spokesman Kevin Hague…

…said welcomed the target, but said research showed it would cost $9b to make New Zealand predator-free. 

“The Government seems happy to once again put out the begging bowl to the private sector to fund what should be taken care of by the Government.

“We have real concerns over what will happen to this predator-free dream if the Government can’t attract private funding, or if that private funding dries up.”

The Greens are usually quick off the mark on policy issues but no media releases from them yet and nothing on their Facebook or Twitter.

ACT Leader David Seymour…

…has welcomed the announcement and said it echoed his own policy to sell off Landcorp and place the money it gains into a trust, so community groups and private enterprises can apply to operate inland wildlife sanctuaries.

“We’re interested in seeing how the Prime Minister plans to skip inland islands and eradicate pests from the nation wholesale.  It’s a laudable and ambitious goal, we look forward to seeing the detail.

A lot will depend on the detail.

Labour…

…is questioning the Government’s level of commitment. 

It’s far to soon to seriously question commitment. The target has only just been announced.

Predator Free New Zealand is a laudable idea but the Government has not committed any real money into killing New Zealand’s pests, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.

“The only promise is that the Government will ‘look’ to contribute one dollar for every two dollars from councils and the private sector.

“This lack of long term funding to kill our millions of pests has to be considered alongside years of funding cuts that have blunted the work of the Department of Conservation.”

Whether it’s feasible to become anywhere near predator free is being questioned.

While some think that it really is possible others have serious doubts.

But even managing to reduce rat, stoat and possum numbers by 50%, 0r 75%, would be a significant achievement – as  long as the reduced numbers were maintained.

Without continuous containment the numbers would increase again, as they have done when the predators were first introduced or introduced themselves.

Government details: Predator free by 2050