Half arsed apology, Ardern ‘reins in’ MPs, but Willie Jackson ‘hits back’

Labour list MP Willie Jackson remains defiant despite a half arsed apology, after he was criticised for questioning how Māori Paula Bennett is. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was reported to have reined him in, but instead Jackson has ‘hit back’.

For background see Labour Maori versus Paula Bennett continues.

Jaskson was interviewed on RNZ yesterday morning where he apologised to those who he may have offended (that is, a half arsed insincere apology) – Jackson sorry for offence after Māori comments (audio):

Employment Minister Willie Jackson has sparked a heated debate about which MPs are allowed to identify as Maori. Mr Jackson called National MP Paula Bennett’s heritage into question, saying she doesn’t know from one day to the next whether she’s Maori. National’s Paula Bennett says she’s identified as Maori since she was born, and the comments made in the House went too far.

Jacinda Ardern got involved – Prime Minister reins in MPs over attacks on Paula Bennett’s Māori heritage

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reined in two of her Ministers for getting personal about Paula Bennett’s Māori heritage.

A very public slanging match erupted this week when three senior Māori members of the coalition government went on the attack against the National Party deputy leader and her whakapapa.

Mrs Bennett described it as a “racist attack” and out of sync with Ms Ardern’s attempts to make Parliament a kinder place.

She said the rhetoric from senior Māori Ministers doesn’t gel at all with what Ms Ardern has been saying she wants to change about politics.

“So we have a prime minister who is constantly saying that she wants to change the way that Parliament is and how Parliamentarians treat each other, and she now has senior Māori ministers going out there and categorising other MPs as not being Māori enough, and I don’t think that gels at all with the kind of Parliament that she’s trying to create,” Mrs Bennett said.

The comments spilled into Question Time on Thursday when Mrs Bennett bit back using Mr Jackson’s Mana in Mahi youth employment programme to ask him whether you needed Māori-sounding surname to participate or would he be telling people with the name Bidois that they should go back to Italy.

That prompted deputy prime minister Winston Peters to go into bat for Mr Jackson.

Then Whanau Ora Minister Peeni Henare also joined in.

Mr Jackson walked back his comments somewhat on RNZ this morning, saying his point was that Mrs Bennett didn’t support National MPs like Nuk Korako who do contribute to kaupapa Māori.

“Of course she’s Māori, I’ve never said that she’s not Māori. I said in Question Time yesterday that she whakapapa’s Māori, how you identify with being Māori is by your whakapapa – is Paula Māori? One hundred percent.

“So she’s twisted this and spun it and she’s got away from the real deal here, which is her reluctance and her non-support of a tremendous Māori MP who has advocated kaupapa Māori and te reo Māori everyday,” Mr Jackson said.

Jackson is the one twisting things. More about that soon.

“I think the point he raised was valid and raised in only the way Willie can. And my experience and upbringing tells me whakapapa certainly is one thing but if we look at what makes a Māori through a Pakeha lense then we’re only looking at either a classification or a blood quantum and what i’m saying is that is one part of it but there’s so much more to being a Māori,” Mr Henare told Radio Waatea.

This is disappointing from Henare. Surely being Māori is different for different people, and so it should be.

The Prime Minister has had to go into damage control.

A spokesperson said while the Prime Minister understood her MPs’ desire to hold all members to account on the work they do for their local communities, she has an expectation that this doesn’t become personal.

The Prime Minister didn’t respond to questions about whether she had spoken to her ministers and what message she had passed on.

So despite the headline there is no sign of Ardern reining in anyone.

And Jackson is not acting reined in. He posted at The Daily Blog yesterday: Willie Jackson hits back

Well what a busy last couple of days I’ve had in the House. Yesterday after supporting International Worker’s Day (May Day), I decided to attack the Māori MPs in National in my General Debate.

The main reason I did that was because they have showed very little support for a fine man and good Māori advocate, Nuk Korako, who resigned because he was basically sick and tired of the zero support he would get for Māori issues.

I called some of the National MPs useless and singled out Jo Hayes, Simon Bridges, Dan Bidois and Paula Bennett – I make no apologies for calling them useless. When you’re in the Chamber, particularly in the General Debate, it’s all on and you take no prisoners. That’s how it’s always been and you can either handle it or not.

That’s not how it’s always been for all MPs, Some like Jackson seem to think it gives them licence to launch over the top attacks, but most MPs manage to not launch outlandish attacks.

She is trying to spin the line that I don’t think she’s Māori which is not what I said in my speech – I said some days she’s Māori and some days she’s not, and that’s an undeniable fact.

What Jacksons thinks Bennett may think on a day to day basis is obviously not factual, it’s his opinion. He can’t know how she thinks.

And what he claims he said in Parliament is inaccurate. He said” Paula Bennett, well, she doesn’t know if she’s a Māori, some day’s she does and some days she doesn’t”.

Again, not facts, just assertions, he cannot know  what he claimed.

“has she ever advocated for Māori; has she ever taken a pro-Māori stance or a Kaupapa Māori stance – and the answer to that is unequivocally no.”

I think that that claim is unequivocally false.

The National Government that Paula Bennett was a part of took a number of pro-Māori stances. Leading ‘significant policies’ at Fifth National Government of New Zealand (Wikipedia):

Treaty of Waitangi/Settlements

The involvement of the National government within this particular area was seen through their approach in settlements. National government’s involvement of Treaty affairs:

  • Ngai Tuhoe deed of settlement[1]

These involved discussion and planning of guidelines which were negotiated with two significant iwis of Taranaki. This also involved Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson.

  • Apology to affiliate Te Arawa[2]

In relation to past Treaty breaches and the actions of the previous governments at the time of the land wars. John Key apologized for the actions and doings of the abuses to the Te Arawa iwi and hapu.

  • Negotiation with Te Atiawa and Taranaki iwi[3]

Through the nine years of government Key/English/Bennett worked with the Māori Party on many policies, bills and initiatives advocating for Māori interests.

Māori Party: OUR ACHIEVEMENTS (Just some of our achievements from October 2008 to June 2017)

The Māori Party has influenced more than $3 billion for kaupapa Māori initiatives and almost $3 billion for all New Zealanders.

They detail a number of achievements while in Government with National. They could only have done that with the support of National, including the support of Bennett.

I’m not a fan of Bennett, but I think that Jackson is wide of the mark with these ongoing attacks on her. Also Peters (not surprising from him) and Henare (I thought he was better than this).

In particular, it’s getting dirty questioning someone else’s ethnicity, whakapapa, and their authenticity. Bennett is correct saying this is a form of racism.

 

Labour Maori versus Paula Bennett continues

Yesterday I posted about Labour list MP Willie Jackson’s slagging off of the Māoriness of Paula Bennett and other National MPs in Parliament on Wednesday – “You have useless Māoris”.

Bennett followed up in Question Time in Parliament yesterday:

8. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister of Employment: Does he stand by his approach to Mana in Mahi, and how many Māori participants are involved in the Mana in Mahi programme?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON (Minister of Employment): To answer the first part of the question, yes, I stand by the approach that this Government has taken, which is to deliver Mana in Mahi in a phased approach. To answer the second part of the question, a total of 143 clients have been placed in Mana in Mahi so far. Of these participants, 75 have identified as Māori—52 percent.

Hon Paula Bennett: Well, how does he determine whether the Māori in the Mana in Mahi programme are Māori enough to be counted?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Well, that’s easy—that’s easy. It’s a well-known fact in this country that if you acknowledge your whakapapa Māori, you can be part of the setup. It’s a little bit unlike when the National Party used to measure Māori by half-castes and by how much of a percentage you had. We brought in this rule that if you whakapapa to Māori, like the good member does over there, then you’re Māori.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does he respect Māori participating in Mana in Mahi regardless of their background or skin colour, or, as he ascertained yesterday in this House, whether or not he thinks they’re Māori on that day or not?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: I think the member might be talking about herself. The reality is that I have total respect for Māori, whether they speak the language, whether they were brought up in a Pākehā environment, Asian environment. If they choose to whakapapa to Māori, like the good member, I respect her and any other Māori.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Minister what happens when your discovery of whakapapa Māori is rather like Columbus’ discovery of America—purely by accident?

So Winston Peters has joined in the attack.

Hon Paula Bennett: Do the Māori in the Mana in Mahi programme need a Māori-sounding surname to participate, or will he be telling people with names like the name Bidois that they should go back to Italy?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: I mean, these types of silly questions are not necessary. The reality is, and the member should know, that a general debate is a general debate, so get over it.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does he expect, then, men in the Mana in Mahi programme to tell women, like he did yesterday, that they are useless while they’re working?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: I take offence at that. I just said that some of the Māori MPs in National were useless, like that member.

 

Later yesterday NZ Herald:  National’s Paula Bennett says comments calling into question her Māori heritage were ‘racist’

National’s deputy leader Paula Bennett says she found comments made by a minister in the House yesterday, questioning her Māori heritage, racist.

Yesterday, in a speech during Parliament’s general debate, Minister of Employment and Associate Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson took aim at the Māori members of the National Party.

National’s deputy leader Paula Bennett says she found comments made by a minister in the House yesterday, questioning her Māori heritage, racist.

Yesterday, in a speech during Parliament’s general debate, Minister of Employment and Associate Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson took aim at the Māori members of the National Party.

“The reality is that I have total respect for Māori, whether they speak the language, whether they were brought up in a Pākehā environment, Asian environment. If they choose to whakapapa to Māori, like the good member, I respect her and any other Māori,” he told the House.

Speaking to media on his way out of Question Time, NZ First Leader – and Deputy Prime Minister – Winston Peters said Bennett’s claim that Jackson was being racist was “ridiculous”.

He also said the press gallery should “get a sense of humour” when pressed on the issue.

So attacks by Jackson and Peters are ‘humour’? That’s an old (and badly flawed) excuse.

MP for Tāmaki Makaurau and Whānau Ora and Youth Minister Peeni Henare backed Jackson this afternoon.

In his view “blood quantum simply isn’t enough” when it comes to being Māori.

“I’ve always felt that you have to reach a threshold of need, participation and contribution in Māori Kaupapa. If you don’t, of course, questions are going to be raised.”

He said he was “more than happy” for those questions to be raised of anybody who claims to be Māori who does not meet that threshold.

https://twitter.com/PeeniHenare/status/1123853652890935297

Jackson has long been provocative, but it’s different (and disappointing) seeing an MP like Henare joining him in this slanging match.

It is sad to see the Labour MPs using Māoriness as a political weapon.

Tova O’Brien:  Willie Jackson, Paula Bennett locked in fierce racism row

And no matter which side you’re on, it’s an ugly row. Racism, whether it’s actual or perceived, has no place in Parliament – or New Zealand.

I wonder where Jacinda Ardern stands on this? Or is she as powerless and impotent with the Labour Māori caucus as she is with Winston Peters and Shane Jones?

Minister criticises two Cabinet colleagues over lack of interest in Whānau Ora

Peeni henare, Minister of Whānau Ora, has criticised Cabinet Ministers David Clark (Health) and Chris Hipkins (Education) for their lack of interest in progressing the Whānau Ora programme.

Maori Television:  Ministers’ lack of interest a barrier for Whānau Ora

Minister of Whānau Ora Peeni Henare says a lack of invested interest from the ministers of health and education is proving to be a barrier and he’s making their inclusion a priority.

Auckland was flooded today with Whānau Ora specialists.  However the minister says, the lack of investment from some is a barrier to the progression of the program.

Henare says, ‘I’ve been to a lot of hui to speak about Whānau Ora and the ones who aren’t at the table are the health and education ministers.”

That’s significant criticism of fellow Ministers.

Ex Labour party MP and Maori Party minister Tariana Turia calls it racism.

Dame Tariana Turia says, “We haven’t had all the government agencies see Whānau Ora as the way forward.  In actual fact, they keep coming up with new ideas, new programmes, new opportunities and essentially it’s to put Whānau Ora on the side.”

Turia says a lot of those attitudes stem from racism.

“We have huge institutional racism in this country, that’s the reality and [will be] until non-Māori see Māori as the answer to the issues impacting on them that have been caused by others.”

Ex Labour MP John Tamihere agrees:

“Out of all the money voted out of parliament every year, 98.8 percent of it goes to Pākehā, for Māori by Pākehā, that just can’t continue.”

Despite now holding all the Māori seats now Labour are struggling to deliver for them – or they just aren’t interested.

Charter school clash between Labour’s education and Maori interests

As Labour’s education spokesperson last term Chris Hipkins always seemed to represent the education unions. They and he have always opposed the Partnership Schools (charter schools) championed by ACT and introduced by the National led government.  But this has clashed with Labour’s Maori constituency who like the educational alternative charter schools have given them.

Hipkins always signalled that a Labour government would scrap the charter schools, but that didn’t go down well with Labour’s Maori MPs. From 2015:

And last July:

Davis threatens to resign if charter schools closed

Labour MP Kelvin Davis has said he would resign if two Northland partnership schools (the media persist in calling them charter schools) were closed down, but he would be happy if they remained but were renamed.

But this week (Stuff): Government moves to scrap national standards and charter schools

The Government has introduced a bill to scrap national standards and charter schools in New Zealand.

However, charter school operators wanting to be involved in education could apply to establish another form of school, such as a designated character school, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

The new legislation was introduced by Hipkins on Thursday, who said it was backed by the vast majority of the education sector.

“Both National Standards and charter schools were driven by ideology rather than evidence. Both were rejected by the vast majority of the education sector. The Government’s strong view is that there is no place for them in the New Zealand education system.”

And the opposition to charter schools of Hipkins and the education unions also seems driven by ideology.

ODT editorial: Ideology-driven education changes continue

Education Minister Chris Hipkins made his intentions about the future of New Zealand’s education system very clear before the election. And he is now starting to deliver on his promises.

The changes, although well signalled, are said to have caught some of his opponents unaware.

At the top of the list is Mr Hipkins’ requirement for private charter schools to change direction, quickly.

Mr Hipkins is quick to condemn the National and Act charter schools, despite evidence non-achieving pupils were reaching levels of achievement previously unheard of. It seems wrong for Mr Hipkins to complain about ideology-driven decisions when, clearly, his dislike of the charter schools is a major reason he is demanding changes.

The preferred option for Mr Hipkins is to explore early termination of contracts by mutual agreement. Operators wanting to be involved in education can apply to the minister to establish another form of school, such as a designated character school.

Strong concerns and resistance has already been expressed by some partnership school operators – who tend to be private trusts rather than money grubbing businesses that opponents of charter schools claim.

As part of the process, applications will need to meet the relevant and so-far unspecified requirements.

It sounds like Hipkins is rushing into this.

The establishment of charter schools gave parents the right to decide how their child was to be educated. Unions criticised the amount of money used for establishing the schools, ignoring the fact it was much less than to establish a state school.

A lot of criticism has been wrong, if not deliberately misleading.

And the Opposition has waded into it: Bill English attacks Labour ministers as ‘the worst kind’

Opposition leader Bill English has lashed out at Government ministers Kelvin Davis and Willie Jackson and their stances on charter schools, accusing them of being “the worst type of politician” by turning their backs on the pupils they used to serve.

Davis, who is Labour’s deputy leader, said last year that he would resign if the charter schools Te Kura Hourua O Whangārei and Te Kāpehu Whetū in Northland closed down.

Labour MP and Employment Minister Willie Jackson has also shown support for charter schools. He used to run the Manukau Urban Māori Authority (Muma), which sponsors Te Kura Māori o Waatea in South Auckland and last year successfully applied to open a second charter school.

English lashed out at the ministers today, saying the decision to close the door on charter schools was “nasty and vindictive, and the victims will be the kids”.

“The people in those schools will be very disappointed to find that Willie Jackson and Kelvin Davis didn’t mean a word of it. Despite the fact they went to set up the schools, now they’ve become politicians of the worst sort – turning their backs on the people they used to serve, and worst than that, shutting down the schools they founded.

“For a Government that says that children are at the heart of everything they’re doing, the Prime Minister has not been able to give one reason why it’s good for those kids to have their school closed. It’s a disgrace.”

He took a swipe at the Prime Minister’s Waitangi Day barbecue.

“This is complete contradiction to everything the Prime Minister has said. That’s why she won’t go to these schools. It’s all very fine to make a show of cooking sausages for people on Waitangi Day.

Ardern spoke fine words about a new era in government relationships with Maori at Waitangi, so the timing of Hipkins rush to close charter schools is awkward.

“I challenge her to go to the schools and cook some sausages for the kids, and tell them, ‘It’s the last one, because I’m going to close the school’.”

Hipkins has refused to visit a charter school.

One charter school operator said that a scheduled meeting with the Ministry of Education next week may be pointless now that Hipkins has acted before consultation.

Davis declined interviews today and would not be drawn on his previous promise to resign if the schools closed.

In a statement, he urged the two Northland charter schools to transition into the state school system.

​”If they want to continue delivering kaupapa Māori education, they can – as a special character school.”

Davis, Jackson and Heeni will be under pressure to represent the interests of their Maori constituents – which could clash with Hipkins representing the interests of the teacher unions (I think he’s an electorate MP but his focus seems to be as a union lackey).

Cross party crapping on cannabis bill

Despite a Curia poll that showed 78% support for medical use of cannabis not to be a criminal offence (and just 17% opposed), it looks like there may be a less than 50% vote in parliament tomorrow on the Swarbrick medical cannabis bill.

If the bill fails to pass it will be very poor representation by MPs in their first test of conscience this term.

All the Green MPs are said to be voting for the bill – good for them.

Very disappointingly Bill English says that National will bloc vote despite it being a conscience vote, giving reportedly just three MPs an exemption to vote for the bill. This is a very poor start to the political year for English and National.

RNZ: Most National MPs to vote against Green’s cannabis bill

“We’ve never treated drug issues in the National caucus as a conscience issue, but we are flexible in the sense that if people have a strong view in this, related to issues of chronic pain, then they have the freedom to vote for it if they wish,” National leader Bill English said.

The National Party will back the government legislation this afternoon.

National health spokesperson Jonathan Coleman said Labour has missed an opportunity to hit the right balance on medicinal cannabis.

And National are crapping on an opportunity to hit the right balance by bloc voting against one bill.

Ardern and Minister of Health David Clark have said they would support the bill at first vote, some compensation for putting up their own pathetic bill.

But some Labour MPs may vote against it.

Labour MP Peeni Henare is concerned about how far that bill goes, and has met with his fellow Māori MPs to discuss the issue.

“I’ve seen [cannabis] ravage small communities, families, households across the country …and of course those ones are Māori.

“I’ve seen [it] destroy families, destroy people. And that’s enough concern for me, let alone any research that suggests it’s a gateway drug to anything bigger or heavier,” he said.

Henare is on the wrong planet here. He’s talking about almost entirely different issues to the use of medical cannabis. This apparent level of ignorance is alarming.

NZ First MPs can vote as they please but it is being reported that most or all will vote against the bill. If that happens, again very disappointing. I hope Grey Power, who support the bill, give them all a bollocking overnight.

Winston Peters has said he will oppose the bill.

1 news:  ‘It’s random, it’s haphazard, it’s free-for-all’ – Peters fiercely against Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal cannabis bill

“It goes far too far. There is no restriction at all, it’s random, it’s haphazard, it’s free-for-all now.”

That’s just ignorant nonsense. Any hope that Peters might rise to the responsibility of being deputy PM (and acting PM mid year when Ardern has her baby) has flown out the Window. He sounds like an ignorant, out of touch old twit. I hope voters remember and hammer for this.

I haven’t seen David Seymour’s view recently but he has previously been strongly in favour of cannabis law reform. However the vote is shaping up to be not close enough for his vote to make a difference.

From the Curia poll in support of making cannabis use for medical purpose legal:

  • National voters 78% (18% against)
  • Labour voters 78% (17% against)
  • NZ First 77% (23% against)
  • TOTAL 78% (17% against)

If over 50% of MPs vote against the preference of 4 out of 5 people it will be a travesty of democracy.

 

‘Solo mum sanction’ solution?

The Government are trying to solve a tricky problem, the ‘solo mum sanction’. The current way of trying to force solo mothers to name the father to avoid financial penalty is far from ideal, but the proposed solution may have problems too.

RNZ: Ending solo mum sanction could cost govt $25m a year

Scrapping a sanction against some solo mums will cost more than $100 million over four years and could result in fewer parents paying child support, ministry officials say.

Single parents who refuse to identify the other parent have $22 deducted from their benefit every week per child. After 13 weeks, another $6 per family is docked.

The policy was introduced in 1990 to ensure fathers paid child support.

The Labour-led government last year confirmed it would repeal the penalty, saying there was no evidence it worked.

A Ministry of Social Development report – obtained under the Official Information Act – said the government would pay out at least $25 million more a year as a result of ditching the sanction.

Officials said they could not predict how people might respond, but warned the cost could balloon, “potentially considerably”, if people were then incentivised to rip off the system.

For example, mothers might choose not to name the father so he could avoid paying child support to the Crown and could instead pay her privately under the table.

Acting Minister of Social Development Peeni Henare said there was no evidence to suggest that might happen.

Has anyone tried to find out if there is any evidence? Has the Ministry of Social Development got any evidence that there won’t be negative consequences or that costs won’t balloon?

Absence of evidence is not a good basis for policy change.

Fathers who don’t take financial or other responsibility for their children is possibly a significant social issue in New Zealand – I say ‘possibly’ because I don’t have evidence that it is.

Henare:

“This was a punitive measure… one that has actually proven to have no merit.”

Where is the proof it had no merit? Did it not encourage any fathers at all to be more involved in the support of their children?

He said the current penalty unfairly punished thousands of children in low-income families.

Is it unfair on children to allow their fathers to have nothing to do with their support? Is it unfair on tax payers to allow solo mothers to exclude fathers from the lives of their children?

It is certainly tough on a mother who wants to keep an arsehole father away from her family, but should the State just pick up the tab, no questions asked?

The current sanction system is far from ideal, but is there any evidence the proposed alternative will be better for children?

Davis threatens to resign if charter schools closed

Labour MP Kelvin Davis has said he would resign if two Northland partnership schools (the media persist in calling them charter schools) were closed down, but he would be happy if they remained but were renamed.

Labour have always strongly opposed the setting up of partnership schools.

RNZ: Davis threatens to resign if two charter schools closed down

Te Kura Hourua O Whangārei and Te Kāpehu Whetū are both charter schools in Northland.

The MP Kelvin Davis said Māori wanted a measure of autonomy over the education of their children.

“So if they were to close they would no longer exist, that would be a bottom line for me, so the fact is they can exist as special character schools, that’s the bottom line to me.”

Mr Davis said the Labour Party wouldn’t close schools that were performing well.

The partnership schools have also been strongly opposed by teacher unions, and Labour education spokesperson Chris Hipkins seems the be a virtual spokesperson for the unions.

Partnership schools are a contentious issue in Labour. High profile candidate Willie Jackson is involved with one in Auckland and supports them.

RNZ: Jackson at odds with Labour’s charter schools policy

Mr Jackson said he saw no reason why any of the charter schools operating now should be closed under a Labour government.

Mr Jackson also questioned why any charter school should be closed under a Labour government.

“I think just about all the schools are doing well, there’s been one or two hiccups, but there would be no reason, from my observation, to close any schools.

From May  Labour committed to anti-charter school policy – Little

The Labour Party remains opposed to charter schools despite new candidate Willie Jackson being involved in running one.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little told Morning Report that Labour’s policy was clear – it opposed charter schools. He said the funding model for the schools was a “con”.

“Willie Jackson is a Labour Party candidate and he signs up to Labour Party policy, that’s it, that’s a fact and that’s what has happened and is going to happen.”

He said he and Mr Jackson shared the same view – they wanted Māori children to succeed in schools.

“But we do have some bottom lines which is that the people who stand in front of our children need to be trained, registered teachers, and they’ve got to teach to the national curriculum.”

If Labour won the election it would continue to support Kura Kaupapa schools and special character schools, Mr Little said.

RNZ:  Labour MP backs Jackson on charter schools

New Labour Party list candidate Willie Jackson has received backing from a party Māori caucus member, Peeni Henare, who also says not all charter schools should be shut down under a Labour government.

Peeni Henare, the Labour MP for the Auckland Māori electorate of Tamaki Makaurau, was described as having made an error of judgement by Mr Little when he attended a fund-raiser at a charter school in 2015.

Mr Henare said Labour had been keen to see if some charter schools could continue to operate as special character schools.

“The bottom line is, why would you stop something that is working.”

He said there was some discussion within the caucus about this issue, but he did not believe it would cause any internal conflict.

The Maori MPs and candidates are speaking to their constituency in favour of the schools, while Little and Hipkins seem to be staunch in their and the teacher unions’ opposition.

Labour’s Maori MPs and candidates will be wanting to do maximise their vote as well as well as supporting schools that are potentially life changers for Maori pupils, which puts their party in an awkward position.

Partnership Schools:

Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua are an opportunity for communities, iwi, philanthropists and business organisations to partner with educators to raise achievement among Māori, Pasifika, students from low socio-economic backgrounds, and students with special education needs. The schools contract with the Government to meet specified, rigorous educational standards in return for freedom to innovate to do so.

Maori-Labour charter school differences

Members of the  Labour Party continue to openly air differences over partnership schools (charter schools).

This is an interesting situation for Labour, who last week were promoting the strength of Maori in the Maori electorates and on their party list, with predictions that a quarter of the MPS will be Maori after September’s election.

But Maori MPs and candidates are taking advantage of their growing strength and their importance to Labour, which is highlighting some differences, especially on partnership schools.

This started in the weekend on Q&A – see Labour to ‘rename’ Partnership Schools?

Yesterday at RNZ: Labour committed to anti-charter school policy – Little

The Labour Party remains opposed to charter schools despite new candidate Willie Jackson being involved in running one.

Mr Jackson, the new Labour list candidate and Māori campaign director has been a vocal support of the schools.

The Te Kura Māori o Waatea charter school in Auckland comes under the Manukau Urban Māori Authority, of which Mr Jackson is the chief executive, although RNZ understands he intends to step down from that role.

He spoke on TVNZ’s Q and A at the weekend about Labour’s charter school policy.

“Well, they’ll get rid of the name, and they’ll get rid of the concept but the principle of turning kids lives around is something that … all of Labour believes in,” Mr Jackson said.

“So call the school whatever you like.”

Labour Party leader Andrew Little told Morning Report that Labour’s policy was clear – it opposed charter schools. He said the funding model for the schools was a “con”.

“Willie Jackson is a Labour Party candidate and he signs up to Labour Party policy, that’s it, that’s a fact and that’s what has happened and is going to happen.”

But Jackson responded: Jackson at odds with Labour’s charter schools policy

Mr Jackson said he saw no reason why any of the charter schools operating now should be closed under a Labour government.

Mr Jackson said that could be an option for the charter school, Te Kura O Waatea, that was run by the Manukau Urban Authority, which he heads.

“The area has seen clear benefits from the work that we do – so obviously I’m not going to sacrifice anything we do just for a seat in Parliament.”

Mr Jackson also questioned why any charter school should be closed under a Labour government.

“I think just about all the schools are doing well, there’s been one or two hiccups, but there would be no reason, from my observation, to close any schools.

But that was not viewed as a conflict to party policy by Mr Little.

“No I don’t think so, he’s expressed his view, but the Labour Party policy is the Labour Party policy – that’s what we’ll take to the election and that’s what we’re going to do.”

This is another example of Labour not sorting out obvious differences privately so it has become an open rift.

And this morning RNZ reports that Labour MP backs Jackson on charter schools

Labour MP Peeni Henare has backed fellow party member Willie Jackson’s call to dump the party policy of shutting down all charter schools.

Peeni Henare, the Labour MP for the Auckland Māori electorate of Tamaki Makaurau, was described as having made an error of judgement by Mr Little when he attended a fund-raiser at a charter school in 2015.

Mr Henare said Labour had been keen to see if some charter schools could continue to operate as special character schools.

“The bottom line is, why would you stop something that is working.”

He said there was some discussion within the caucus about this issue, but he did not believe it would cause any internal conflict.

This poses quite a challenge for Little and Labour. They have policy development processes that slowly work through their systems, but if they really want to be seen as a party that strongly supports Maori then they may have to give more attention to policies and positions that reward the Maori support they desperately need.

The Maori caucus and campaign team seems to be in a bit of a power play with the party.

This could turn out badly for Labour.

But it could jolt them out of their 9 year malaise and do them some good. A party that openly debates issues of importance isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as they end up being handled well.

Jackson’s up front and brash manner makes a refreshing change in a way, this has been badly lacking in Labour for a long time.

Labour and South Auckland

Chris Trotter writes about the importance of South Auckland to Labour’s chances this election.  Much has been said lately about Labour and the Maori vote, but the Pacific Island vote is a big deal too.

Stuff: Chris Trotter: Labour appeals to its South Auckland base

South Auckland is also Labour country – and that is not something one can say about many other places in New Zealand. In 2005 it was the voters of South Auckland that saved Helen Clark’s Labour-led Government and sent her back for a third term as their Prime Minister.

If Labour is saved again – if it avoids a fourth consecutive defeat at the hands of the National Party – then it will be the people of South Auckland that Andrew Little and his party have to thank.

In part – party votes across the country are what count.

To be sure, the Labour MPs from that part of the world: Jenny Salesa (Manukau East) Su’a William Sio (Mangere) Louisa Wall (Manurewa) and Peeni Henare (Tamaki Makaurau) all offer a comfortable ethnic fit with the communities they represent, and all of them were present in the hall. But, none of these politicians are members of Labour Leader Andrew Little’s inner circle of confidants and advisers. That group remains an overwhelmingly Palangi affair.

  • As with all of Labour’s current Maori electorate MPs Henare is not on the party list. He is currently ranked 20 in their caucus.
  • Jenny Salesa is ranked 19 in caucus and is 18 on the party list.
  • Su’a William Sio is ranked 15 in caucus and 15 on the party list.
  • Louisa Wall is ranked 28 (near the bottom) and 25 on the party list.

The party list placings are better than they would be if the Maori electorate MPs were on it, with three of them ranked above all the South Auckland MPs in caucus.

So the South Auckland MPs are all ranked near or in the bottom half.

The Pacific Island vote may be as crucial for Labour as their Maori vote, but how much will South Auckland benefit from their support?

Labour now oppose treaty settlement

Labour had initially supported a Bill that would release a public reserve in Auckland for housing and would also help settle a Treaty of Waitangi claim. But they are now opposing it, to the disappointment of Auckland.

It makes things awkward for Labour’s Maori MPs – Andrew Little recently claimed “Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice”.

Phil Twyford on Twitter today:

NZ Herald: Pt England reserve housing development opposed by Labour as ‘land grab’

When Labour supported the enabling legislation at its first reading in December its Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare said he was “extremely excited” about the opportunity for Ngati Paoa.

And Labour’s Kelston MP Carmel Sepuloni said the party supported the bill because “we will support any piece of legislation that is going to be about building more affordable homes in Auckland”.

“It does not make sense to use prime land for grazing cows when it could be used for affordable housing,” Sepuloni said.

However, in a press release today Twyford said the legislation was a “land grab” that flew in the face of the local community’s wishes.

“The Minister seems to think because some of the land has cows grazing on it, it’s fair game to take it for housing. The community needs this land for future generations. Once it is sold for housing it will be permanently lost to the public.”

Does anyone in Labour communicate?

Labour’s opposition has disappointed Ngati Paoa, who said without the land there would be no Treaty settlement between it and the Crown.

“By opposing the legislation Labour is opposing a Treaty settlement bill – for the first time in the history of the Treaty settlement process,” said Hauauru Rawiri, chief executive of Ngati Paoa Iwi Trust.

“All other iwi in Tamaki Makaurau support this transfer. Opposing the Bill pits the Labour Party against mana whenua of Auckland.”

Rawiri said he urged Labour’s Maori MPs to lobby colleagues on the issue and vote against their party if necessary.

That’s the Labour Maori MPs that Little was talking about in this press release 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.”

Who’s running Labour, Little or Twyford?

Will the Labour Maori MPs back the Auckland Iwi?

Twyford is leading Labour’s election campaign in Auckland. This puts party support at risk in Auckland electorates as well as Maori electorates.