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.

Little versus Maori MPs on list placement

Andrew Little seems to be at odds with some of Labour’s Maori MPs over their placement on the party list for this year’s election.

Radio NZ: Labour’s Māori MPs tepid about low list rankings

The battle for the Māori seats is hotting up, with the deal between Mana and the Māori Party not to stand against each other, putting more pressure on the Labour candidates.

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

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

That was on February 21. It sounded odd at the time.

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

“The list committee would do its work and will hear from everybody but the Māori MPs are saying to me right now do not give us high list places, we want to fight this out and stand on our own digs in our seats because we know we’re going to win and we’re confident about our success.”

But the Maori MPs are not singing the same waiata.

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

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

“I haven’t asked anything,” he said. “It is a distraction, I didn’t go on the list last time but the party will decide if they are going to allow us to remain on the list or not.”

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

“I haven’t talked anything about the list other than getting the nomination sorted for Tāmaki Makaurau.”

A few weeks beforehand, Mr Little had announced Willie Jackson as a Labour candidate to help target the urban Māori vote, promising him a high list position.

There have been reports that there were attempts to pressure Henare into standing aside for Jackson in the Tāmaki Makaurau electorate.

It seems odd that Little wants the Maori MPs to be shunted down the list. If he is as confident he says he is about he Labour Maori MPs retaining their electorates then a high list placing will make no difference as to who will make it in off the list. It would only make a difference if any of them lose their electorate.

Maori MPs will have some interest in where they end up being placed on the list, especially in comparison to new party members like Jackson. There is mana involved.

It appears that Labour are putting a lot of effort into attracting Auckland votes. If that takes precedent then Maori voters may wonder how much Labour takes them for granted.

Will Hipkins revise charter school ‘failed experiment’ stance?

ERO: “a good start providing education for young Maori”

Peeni Henare: “I’ve seen the outcomes they’ve achieved ”

Chris Hipkins: “The whole charter school concept is deeply flawed”.

Who is right?

Two weeks agop Chris Hiopkins, Labour’s Education spokesperson, posted GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD FOR FAILED EXPERIMENT:

The whole charter school concept is deeply flawed.

“Labour has been very clear. We will direct any additional funding towards programmes that address underachievement in our existing public school system. Throwing money at low quality, hurriedly established, experimental charter schools has to stop,” Chris Hipkins says.

However puts him at odds with two Labour MPs with education backgrounds, Kelvin Davis and Peeni Henare.

Divisions in Labour over charter schools policy

Labour MP for Tāmaki-Makaurau Peeni Henare and his colleague, Kelvin Davis, attended a fundraiser for the He Puna Marama Trust, which has set up a charter school in Whangarei.

Mr Davis told 3News at the fundraiser that his leader, Andrew Little, did not want the Labour MPs to attend the event.

Mr Henare told Radio New Zealand that he knew all the people involved in both the trust and the kura itself, including the students.

“I support that particular charter school, and the reason I do that is that I’ve seen kaupapa grow from the fetal stages all the way to what they have today and I’ve seen the outcomes they’ve achieved and that’s I why I support that particular kaupapa.”

This is also backed by an official review:

The Education Review Office’s report on the kura, released in February, found it had made a good start providing education for young Maori, and that senior students were making pleasing progress.

So the whole partnership school concept appears to not be deeply flawed.

Will Hipkins review his stance on charter schools?

Henare on his support for Whangarei partnership school

Peeni Henare, Labour MP for Tāmaki-Makaurau, broke ranks with his party when, along with Kelvin Davis, he attended a fundraiser for Whangarei partnership (charter) school run by the Puna Marama Trust.

Radio NZ reports Divisions in Labour over charter schools policy.

The Education Review Office’s report on the kura, released in February, found it had made a good start providing education for young Maori, and that senior students were making pleasing progress.

Mr Henare told Radio New Zealand that he knew all the people involved in both the trust and the kura itself, including the students.

“I support that particular charter school, and the reason I do that is that I’ve seen kaupapa grow from the fetal stages all the way to what they have today and I’ve seen the outcomes they’ve achieved and that’s I why I support that particular kaupapa.”

Supporting something that’s working successfuly is sensible politics.

All Labour’s policies had been under review since the last election, but its policy on charter schools was unequivocal: scrap them.

Mr Henare said how the policy played out now remained to be seen.

“We are all mature adults, I’d like to think and if we can get the opportunity to sit down and debate the merits for and of these kinds of kaupapa – and I’d expect the same for all policies and kaupapa that the Labour Party has – that the opportunity be given to sit down, to debate the merits on a fair playing field if you like, and I’m sure that’ll take place in due course.”

This puts the Laboujr party in a difficult position. They  have been committed to backing their education group allies and staunchly opposing partnership schools.

Success is going to be difficult to oppose, especially whe some of their own MPs recognise and applaud the benefits.

Two Labour MPs break ranks on Charter Schools

Labour, along with close allies the teachers’ unions, has always strongly opposed Charter Schools.

SO it’s notable that two Maori Labour MPs have openly supported a charter school.

3 News reported: Kelvin Davis defies Labour policy in charter school support

Labour MP Kelvin Davis has rebelled against his leader, Andrew Little, by giving his support to a charter school – a policy Labour strongly opposes.

Mr Davis was present at a fundraiser for a charter school.

Charter schools use taxpayers’ money, but are privately run – an ACT Party policy adopted by the Government.

The fundraiser was for a school run by the He Puna Marama Trust in Whangarei.

Mr Davis is Labour’s associate education spokesman, so it’s a bad look for him to show support.

Another Labour MP, Peeni Henare, also attended.

Davis is MP for Maori electorate Te Tai Tokerau, Henare is MP for Tāmaki Makaurau. Some Maori see benefits in Charter Schools, and Davisd and Henare have put more priority of the interests of their Maori constituencies rather the political interests of their party.

Labour sources have told 3 News Mr Little did not want them to go.

It does look a bit awkward for Little and Labour.

A spokeswoman for Mr Little said he left the decision to go up to the MPs, and their attendance does not reflect any change in Labour’s policy on charter schools.

But it’s obvious the blanket policy opposing charter schools is not universally accepted within the party.

It suggests a clash of special interests within Labour – their education constituency versus their Maori constituency.

Tourism set to overtake dairy as largest export earner

It’s often claimed that New Zealand has become too reliant on dairy trade. Milk products are certainly a significant and important part of our economy, but that’s far from all that keeps things ticking over.

While dairy has been getting a lot of the attention the tourism sector has been quietly growing and is set to become our biggest export earner. NZ Herald reports:

Gloombusters: Tourism drives economy higher

New Zealand’s tourism sector is on track to overtake dairy as New Zealand’s biggest export earner and the country will soon crack three million visitors a year.

Tourism has recovered from the hit dealt by the global economic crisis and for the past three years has enjoyed strong growth.

Prime Minister John Key, who is also Tourism Minister, expects this summer to be the country’s biggest for the visitor industry.

“It’s a growth sector and there’s a lot more left in the tank,” Key said.

The latest full year figures showed international tourism expenditure contributed $10.3 billion (15.3 per cent) to New Zealand’s total exports.

Key said recent strong growth had come in spite of a strong Kiwi dollar against main source markets and the more favourable exchange rate for visitors would make this country even more attractive.

And the benefits of tourism are spread around regions (like dairy).

The benefits of tourism were widely spread with most spending outside Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Statistics New Zealand figures show the tourism industry directly employed 94,100 fulltime equivalents, or 4.7 per cent of total employment.

The Tourism Industry Association New Zealand agrees with Key’s assessment that another bumper summer season is in prospect.

It has been holding a series of 12 regional tourism summits and chief executive Chris Roberts said the sector was in extremely good heart.

“For many regions, tourism is the bright light when it comes to economic growth.

“We’ve seen good growth in international and domestic visitor spend in the past two years and that looks set to continue,” Roberts said.

This is good news. That’s probably why it doesn’t get much attention in the media.

Nor does it get much attention from the Opposition. Labour’s spokesperson for Tourism is Peeni Henare. He has only a handful of media releases on Labour’s website (four since the election). None of those are on Tourism – he seems more interested in his role as Associate Māori Affairs Spokesperson.

Henare won the Tamaki Makaurau electorate last year, and as a first year MP is ranked near the bottom of Labour’s pecking order.

John Key is the Minister of Tourism, showing a different priority he and National put on one of our biggest markets.