Ardern to miss Ratana to attend Davos

I’m not sure what the big deal about politicians attending the January Ratana Church event – they don’t give this attention to any other religion – but the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will miss it this year to attend the he World Economic Forum in Davos.

RNZ:  Prime Minister won’t attend Ratana celebrations

Jacinda Ardern will be in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum and deputy PM Winston Peters will take her place. On her return from Davos, the prime minister – along with ministers and Maori MPs – will make the trek to Northland to attend Waitangi commemorations.

RNZ: Labour Māori MPs face demands for action as PM misses Rātana celebrations

Last year, the freshly-minted Prime Minister kicked off the political year at Rātana and Waitangi with warm welcomes and celebration at the news she was expecting her first child.

In two weeks Jacinda Ardern was expected to return to Rātana – a Labour stronghold – but international travel to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum means her deputy Winston Peters will instead take her place.

And from there Ardern will attend Waitangi Day celebrations. She made a big impression last year, going top Waitangi for five days, but she will struggle to match that performance.

On her return from Davos she, along with a strong contingent of ministers and Māori MPs, will make the trek to Northland where her attendance at Waitangi commemorations is locked in, but she’s yet to commit to attending the annual Iwi Chairs Forum on 1 February.

In a statement Ms Ardern said her schedule for Waitangi was still being worked through and a decision about whether to attend the Iwi Chairs Forum hadn’t yet been made.

While some say Ms Ardern’s absence from the forum would be viewed as a snub, others say Māori have moved on from waiting with bated breath for the prime minister to deliver a speech of promises and instead just want to get on with business.

Mr Paraone said they can expect to receive some criticism at Waitangi as well as some free advice on what to do better.

“There will be some of my relatives who over the past twelve months have been quite critical of the Māori members, particularly those from the north, and then there will be others who will continue to be quite supportive of them but by the same token be whispering in their ears saying, hey we expect a bit more.”

But Rangitane Marsden, the chief executive of Ngāi Takoto – the iwi hosting the forum this year – said many Māori had moved away from expecting the government to provide for them, and, rather, the focus this year was on iwi economic development and building a strong business relationship with the Crown.

“I think this is the year where we want to sit down and do business, so that’s probably the theme of what we’d be after with government: it’s ‘let’s not keep talking about things, let’s not have anymore rhetoric speeches, let’s actually make something happen and be real about what we do’.”

“I think there’s a new opportunity to build a stronger relationship so we can move forward. In the past … there’s been a lot of energy put into the relationship with National and now that we have a new government it’s probably a switch of tack.”

Iwi leaders are hoping Ms Ardern will attend the forum but at the same time Mr Marsden said they’ve reached a point where they don’t need the prime minister repeating herself in order to get things done.

“So while every year at the election or Waitangi we’d wait with bated breath for a particular prime minister to describe what they’re going to do to make a difference for us – those days are fast disappearing,” he said.

I would expect Labour to deliver on something to Māori now theyt hold all seven Māori  electorates

Politics, religion the annual Rātana ritual and babies

I thought that state and religion were supposed to be kept separate (is this true in New Zealand?), but there has long been a close link in New Zealand between religion and politics. This is still the case to an extent, with each political year now kicking off in force with a ritual visit to the Rātana church.

Some history from Te Ara: Religion and politics

The churches played significant, often controversial, roles in politics.

Between the mid-1830s and early 1860s Anglican missionaries, clergy and laymen led the humanitarian campaign to uphold Māori rights and welfare. An even larger number of Māori Christians, also often Anglican, defended their land and political rights.

Between the 1870s and the 1930s Scottish Presbyterians joined forces with other dissenters – Methodists, Baptists, Brethren, Congregationalists, the Church of Christ and the Salvation Army – to form a powerful evangelical coalition.

In the 1880s, as political parties emerged, outsiders – dissenters, Catholics and secularists – often supported the centre-left parties in New Zealand’s relatively narrow political spectrum. The Liberal government (1889–1912) of John Ballance, a moderate freethinker, and Richard ‘King Dick’ Seddon, an Anglican populist, attracted significant support from all three groups.

From 1912 members of the Protestant-dominated Reform party of ‘Farmer Bill’ Massey, a Presbyterian from an Ulster background.

Political success eluded Labour until 1935, when leaders such as Michael Joseph Savage (who returned to his Catholic roots) and Walter Nash, an Anglican socialist, moved the party closer to the ideological centre. A dozen ministers or ex-ministers of religion stood for Parliament in the 1935 election. Labour won a landslide victory by presenting itself as the party of practical Christian compassion, which it contrasted with the heartless and anti-family depression-era coalition government. Savage famously described Labour’s Social Security Act 1938, intended to provide security for all from cradle to grave, as ‘applied Christianity’.

One of the law’s chief architects was Arnold Nordmeyer, a Christian socialist who served as a Presbyterian minister at Kurow before entering politics.

Labour also forged an alliance with the Rātana Church, which lasted into the 1990s. Much subsequent expansion of the welfare state occurred under National governments, testifying to the enduring significance of ‘applied Christianity’ in the middle ground of politics.

Since then I think religion has been less prominent in New Zealand politics, althoughthere have been a number of Christian parties over the last couple of decades –  Christian Heritage, the Christian Democrats, the Christian Coalition and Destiny New Zealand – but all failed to make Parliament on their own.

The Christian Democrats purged Christian references from their policies, changed name to “Future New Zealand” and then merged with Peter Dunne’s United Party but dragged the resulting United Future Party down in acrimony and split.

Minister of Finance and then Prime Minister Bill English has strong Catholic links and follows some of their conservative lines on issues like abortion. National MP Simon O’Connor trained to become a Catholic priest but was not ordained. He recently spoke strongly against the End of Life Choice (euthanasia) Bill in Parliament.

There has been talk from Labour that they are returning to focus on more compassionate social policies, and Jacinda Ardern is often presented as a compassionate person, but although she had a religios upbrining she now says she is agnostic. From Wikipedia:

Ardern was raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but left the church in 2005 because, she said, it conflicted with her personal views (in particular her support for gay rights). In January 2017 Ardern identified as “agnostic”.

Minister of Health David Clark is an ordained Presbyterian minister.

Despite these connections religion is not prominent in politics for most of the year, except for the January Ratana ritual.

RNZ: Political year gears up at Rātana

The pilgrimage of politicians to Rātana Pā traditionally marks the start of the political calendar and has special significance this year as the centennial event.

This will be Jacinda Ardern’s first visit to Rātana as Prime Minister and Labour leader. Along with MPs from Labour, New Zealand First and the Green Party, she is expected to arrive about 11am.

Ms Ardern said she was looking forward to the event, and acknowledged the church may have certain expectations now Labour was in power.

“I welcome that. Expectations are what keep driving you harder.”

National leader Bill English and his team would be welcomed in the early afternoon. He said he expected the reception to be “respectful and warm” as usual.

NZH (video): Highlights from Ratana

Stuff: Rātana offers support, special speaking rights, and a name for Jacinda Ardern’s baby

Even the Rātana ritual has been plastered with baby stuff.

It looks like babies in politics will be far more prominent than religion in politics, despite it being an anniversary year for the Rātana church.

It is significant that Ardern is pregnant, but the importance of that looks likely to be trashed by truckloads of trivia.

Dunne at Ratana

One of the unknowns so far this election year is what Prime Minister Bill English’s relationship will be like with Peter Dunne, and what National will do in the Ohariu electorate – support Dunne’s re-election bid, or try to take the electorate for themselves.

A shot from Ratana this year (2017) may give an indication…

dunneenglishratana

…or it may simply reflect a seating arrangement that was out of the politician’s hands.

Actually Dunne was also snapped last year (2016) at Ratana with English – and with Andrew Little:

dunneratana2016

Dunne’s relationship with Labour is also of interest.

So far this year Little has attacked the Maori Party, the Mana Party and NZ First (as well as National of course) – will he also have a crack at Dunne at some stage?

Or will he just leave that to Labour’s approach to Ohariu?

“Reached the limits of what Government can do”

Comments made by Bill English in his speech at Ratana suggesting that Government had “reached the limits of what Government can do” have been criticised, but I think he makes a valid point.

ODT reported:

In a 10-minute speech which included a brief Te Reo introduction, Mr Little also criticised Prime Minister Bill English’s comments at Ratana yesterday. Mr English told Ratana members to “reawaken the spirit of enterprise” among Maori because Government had “reached the limits of what government can do – government grants, programmes, more public servants.”

Mr Little responded: “I come here to say that’s an abdication of leadership and an abdication of the responsibility of Government.”

But Andrea Vance at 1 News reported more detail: PM Bill English tells elders at Ratana the Government isn’t abandoning Maori

Andrea Vance: Both Mr English and the church seem to be in tune over pulling Maori out of poverty.

Bill English: Somehow along the way we have reached the limits of what Government can do, the limits of Government grants, programmes, more public servants.

englishratana

And what I see around the country, and I think it’s obvious now to every New Zealander, is this burgeoning spirit of enterprise.

Piri Rurawhe (Ratana Church Secretary): That’s always been a whakauru (?) of Ratana. We need to help ourselves before we can help anyone else, and we like that whakauru.

Andrea Vance: Mr English says the Government isn’t abandoning Maori.

Bill English: Government is learning much better how to work with the people who know the people.

Apart from the overdone platitude ‘every New Zealander’ I think English makes a lot of sense here.

We can’t sit back and expect the Government to fix everything. It is often far more effective if the Government helps and encourages communities and families to help themselves as much as possible.

Obviously some Government assistance, funding and interventions are necessary, but people – individuals, families and communities – need to take responsibility for their own problems.

Solutions cannot easily or effectively be imposed, they have to be wanted, and those with problems (with some exceptions) ultimately need to address and resolve them themselves as much as possible.

There is only so much Government can do. Recognising this is important. I think English is on the right track here.

Opposition parties at Ratana

Yesterday it was the turn of opposition parties to make their pitch to Maori voters at Ratana.

Andrew Little criticised others for political bickering but he also bickered at National and the Maori Party, and he won’t have been happy about Gareth Morgan and Winston Peters hijacking headlines with their war of words.

The ODT reports Labour leader emerges from Ratana unscathed

Labour leader Andrew Little has emerged from his Ratana visit unscathed and confident his party’s relationship with the influential Maori church has been restored.

Mr Little arrived at the pa near Wanganui under pressure to restore Labour’s relationship with the Ratana Church. The Maori Party, which recently won the support of the Kingitanga Movement, made a strong pitch for Ratana’s support yesterday, calling for a “One Maori” movement.

Speaking on the pa, Mr Little he said he took the relationship between Labour and Ratana seriously. Rather than simply turn up for the headline event, his MPs had been meeting with the church regularly over the last 12 months.

He wooed the church’s 30,000 followers by pledging to financially support its centennial celebrations in 2018 if Labour was in Government. Ratana was “an important figure in the history of Maoridom” and were “entitled to some support”, he said.

Mr Little also pledged housing support for both Ratana and Maori generally, saying a Labour Government would help improve Maori home ownership rates – which are currently about 25%.

That could look like some election bribing.

Mr Little also criticised Prime Minister Bill English’s comments at Ratana yesterday. Mr English told Ratana members to “reawaken the spirit of enterprise” among Maori because Government had “reached the limits of what government can do – government grants, programmes, more public servants.”

Mr Little responded: “I come here to say that’s an abdication of leadership and an abdication of the responsibility of Government.”

Ratana Church senior secretary Piri Rurawhe told the Herald that Mr Little’s comments were “well received” and there was none of last year’s criticism.

Bill English seems to have received a good reception at Ratana on Monday despite Little’s criticism.

And Little also took a swipe at the Maori Party:

Speaking to reporters after his speech, Mr Little described the Maori Party’s claims about Ratana as “high-level trash talk”. He has all but ruled out a post-election coalition with the Maori Party and the Mana Movement, who are considering an agreement to work together.

Labour seem to be worried about the potential threat of the Maori and Mana parties to their party vote and their Maori electorates.

But the biggest attention seekers were Morgan and Peters. ODT: Morgan, Peters trade insults at Ratana Pa

Gareth Morgan and Winston Peters have traded insults at Ratana Pa today over whose political party is best for Maori.

Mr Morgan, who recently formed The Opportunities Party, “implored” the Ratana members to “call out” the New Zealand First party and Winston Peters because of their anti-Treaty of Waitangi views. He compared Mr Peters with former Act Party leader Don Brash, saying they were “black-and-white facsimiles of each other”.

Mr Morgan went further, describing Mr Peters as “nothing more than an Uncle Tom” and saying that he “gets away with this anti-Tteaty stuff” because he is Maori.

“The old adage that you can’t be racist against your own race – I don’t accept that excuse.”

Mr Morgan also urged the crowd at Ratana to give The Opportunities Party its party vote, saying it was the only party which would “take the Treaty of Waitangi conversation to non-Maori”.

He reiterated calls to make te reo Maori compulsory in schools and to create an Upper House in Parliament which would identify breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi in law-making.

When Mr Peters took his turn to speak at the pa, he only briefed touched on Mr Morgan’s comments.

“Excuse me for laughing, but it’s a long time since I have been ravaged by a toothless sheep,” he said.

He added that Mr Morgan was another rich man trying to enter politics, describing him as “a thinned-out version of Kim Dotcom”.

Criticising Mr Morgan’s proposed constitutional reforms, Mr Peters said Maori did not want an Upper House. “Seventy-five percent of them just want a house.”

He said Mr Morgan was “riding a motorbike through Mongolia” while he was defending Maori as a lawyer and in Parliament.

I suspect both Morgan and Peters were using their Ratana appearances to target wider audiences.

James Shaw spoke for the Green party but he must have been too nice, the media don’t seem to have given him much coverage.

This Herald headline wasn’t referring to Shaw’s input: Fighting talk as politicians visit Ratana

Green Party co-leader James Shaw talked of his party’s agreement to work with Labour, to address the issue of Maori poverty. He said Maori and Greens shared a focus on caring for the land, and the number of Maori voting Green had trebled in the last few elections.

“The Maori vote is becoming more powerful, and it’s more powerful when expressed with unity. This year you can vote for the status quo or vote for change, for being closed and defensive or open and welcoming, for fear or hope.”

And from Maori Television: Criticism, challenges, promises and jokes at Rātana

“We will field more Māori Candidates in more Māori seats then even before,” said James Shaw from the Greens.

It looks like Maori electorates and Maori party votes will be keenly fought after this election.

 

 

Labour versus Maori/Mana, et al

The annual political pilgrimage to Ratana is highlighting growing competitiveness between the Labour and Maori Parties, with the latter now working more closely with the Mana Party and Hone Harawira.

Audrey Young: The political dance begins at Ratana celebrations

Labour faced criticism last year from Ratana speakers telling leader Andrew Little that he could not take Ratana for granted.

Little said he had heeded that and he and the Maori caucus had worked on strengthening the relationship with Ratana.

But Little has come out swinging this year.

He described the Maori Party as “effectively the Maori branch of the National Party.”

Asked if they would “last cab off the rank” if came to coalition building after this year’s election, he said: “Certainly after Greens and New Zealand First.

There’s whole collection, Maori and United Future, if they are still there. So they are certainly down the pecking order, that’s for sure.”

What if Labour+Greens gets say 45-46% and could get over the line with Maori Party support rather than needing Winston Peters? Little kicked of his election year with an attack on Peters over Pike River.

Labour is competing with NZ First and the Maori Party in particular for votes.

In August last year, King Tuheitia criticised Labour and New Zealand First during an unscripted part of his speech at Turangawaewae coronation celebrations.

“It really hurt me when the leader of the Labour Party says ‘I’ll never work with that Maori Party.’ I’m not voting for them anymore,” Tuheitia said.

So there is a lot of tension between the Labour and Maori Parties evident at Ratana.

Stuff: Maori Party co-leaders warn the Labour Party’s grip on the Maori seats is loosening

The Maori Party has fired shots at the Labour Party saying their exclusive relationship with Ratana has come to an end.

The Maori King’s son, Whatumoana Paki, and members of Kingitanga descended on Ratana Pa, near Whanganui, on Monday where they were welcomed along with the Maori Party co-leaders and Mana Party leader, Hone Harawira.

Traditionally party leaders and Kingitanga are welcomed separately but the united front is symbolic of the Maori King Tuheitia’s abandoning of the Labour Party in a speech at the anniversary of his coronation last year, which led to him throwing his support behind the Maori Party.

Ratana has a close bond with Labour and its MP in the Te Tai Hauauru seat, Adrian Rurawhe, is the brother of the Ratana church secretary, Piri Rurawhe.

RNZ: Flavell: ‘Times have moved on’ from historic Rātana-Labour link

Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell has denounced the historic political tie between Rātana and the Labour Party and is proclaiming a new unified Māori movement.

Speaking at Rātana Pā yesterday, Mr Flavell, supported by hundreds from the Kīngitanga, various Māori organisations and Mana leader Hone Harawira, made a direct and convincing play for Rātana’s political support.

Well versed in Te Reo Māori and speaking on the paepae, Te Ururoa Flavell paused, pointed to the sky, and told the crowds the agreement made by Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana and the Labour Party all those years ago was in his opinion, over.

“Well I think it’s finished. At the end of the day, as many speakers have said, that was made for a place and a time. Times have moved on, the political environment is totally different,” he said.

Mr Flavell said he was ready for a new unified Māori movement.

“Now is the time for us to make that a reality. One political movement under a Māori Party banner, which will pull back those seats from Labour and stay in kaupapa Māori hands forever.”

Patrick Gower: Hone’s back with a Mana-Maori deal

The new Mana-Maori Party alliance had its first formal outing at Ratana today, meaning Mr Harawira is back from the political dead.

After years of fighting, the Mana Party and the Maori Party are making the pilgrimage to Ratana Pa together – not as enemies but as friends.

“It means Mana and Maori walking alongside one another together,” said Mr Harawira.

There is also competition from the Greens. From Stuff:

Labour’s attempts to hold on to the Maori seats could also be tested by the Greens’ new push for the Maori vote.

Co-leader Metiria Turei confirmed yesterday that she would run in Te Tai Tonga after previously running in non-Maori electorates. The party is also hoping to run in all seven Maori seats.

Curious timing for that confirmation, I thought a done deal had been announced last year.

It will be interesting to see how Labour approaches their turn at Ratana today.

NZ Herald: Andrew Little to visit Ratana Pa as Labour Party woos voter

The Labour Party will arrive at Ratana Pa today under pressure to show it deserves to maintain its hold on the Maori seats at this year’s election.

Ahead of his visit to the pa near Whanganui today, Labour leader Andrew Little said he had worked to rebuild ties with Ratana after being criticised at last year’s event.

It is understood he will make an election promise today – the first day of the political year – to build or upgrade housing in the small Ratana settlement near Whanganui.

The first day of the political year? There was a lot of politics evident at Ratana yesterday, and David Seymour delivered his ‘state of the nation’ speech. Last week Labour and NZ First did their Pike River promising.

And now Little is trying a wee bribe at Ratana? Is he going to do similar in Maori areas around the country?

Labour versus Maori/Mana is going to be a fascinating aspect of this year’s election campaign. Alongside Labour versus NZ First. And Labour versus Greens – despite their ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ they will be competing for similar vote pools.

With all these small battles Labour have a much larger challenge, in being seen as competitive with National.

Today Andrew Little has to try try and impress the gathering at Ratana.

English at Ratana

Bill English has attended the annual gathering at Ratana, speaking in Maori “extensively”. He said he had “picked up bits and pieces” and thought it was important to show respect for the language in a formal Maori situation.

Stuff: Bill English attends Ratana for first time as Prime Minister – and a day earlier than expected

The Prime Minister was welcomed to Ratana Pa on Monday for the first time since being appointed as leader and described the reception as the “best of tikanga” in terms of the “hospitality, respectfulness and warmth” he received.

Ratana Church secretary Piri Rurawhe was first to speak and stressed it was their choice to extend an invite to English to attend a day earlier than other political leaders because all are welcome at Ratana Pa, “irrespective of the colour of their skin”.

Rurawhe said having the new Prime Minister attend was about giving the people an opportunity to hear the Government’s plans for the year ahead.

English began his reply to Rurawhe and the Ratana people speaking extensively in Maori without any notes – demonstrating his good grasp of the language.

Speaking to media after, he said he wouldn’t say he was “proficient” but has instead “picked up bits and pieces” in his years in Parliament.

“I just think it’s important when you’re going into a formal Maori situation to show some respect for the language. I don’t know a whole lot, I can understand roughly half of what’s said and I can use some of it,” he said.

English was warmly greeted by Ratana elders when he arrived shortly before midday on Monday and was taken onto the Pa by the local band.

“I just think, as you’ve seen here today, it’s the best of tikanga. It’s good for New Zealand and good for New Zealanders to see it.

“It’s such a positive, warm and hospitable way of doing business.”

English said the decision not to go to Waitangi has been made but that it wasn’t the “only place” that conversations about Maori issues took place.

Te Tii should take note.

RNZ: Prime Minister schools Ngāpuhi on ‘tikanga’

Ngāpuhi kaumātua Kingi Taurua has responded to the Prime Minister’s comments saying if he prefers a tikanga of peace and quiet, Ratana is the place for him.

Mr Taurua is a kaumātua of Te Tii Marae which has hosted the political pōwhiri for decades.

“Each tribe, each marae, has their own method of tikanga. If Ratana has a tikanga that is suitable for the government then well and good but at Waitangi we have a tikanga of challenging government policies in regards to the Treaty of Waitangi,” said Mr Taurua.

English said that the Government had reached it’s limit on dealing with social problems, and he didn’t think that more money and more public servants was going to achieve any more. He indicated more partnerships with ‘the people who know the people’.

(That’s from memory from seeing coverage on 1 News, I’ll update when they put the item up online.)

Politics at Ratana

Claire Trevett points out that the rule “to not get too political” at Ratana was well and truly broken yesterday.

What do you expect when you get a parade of party leaders plus media looking for their first big political stories of the year?

Bending rules under the heat

Veterans of the January visit to Ratana know the two key rules: take sunscreen and a hat.

The third rule, to not get too political, was well and truly broken this year, despite being hosted on the Sabbath.

Peters seems to have been the most blatant.

NZ First leader Peters was not going to waste his time with any pretence about leaving politics out of it. He made an unashamed pitch for votes. He told them people could be forgiven for thinking politicians were like used car salesmen, – “Plenty of pre-sales talk. No after sales delivery.”

He said there was a solution to that. “Get on the roll and buy yourselves some insurance. You know which party that is … New Zealand First.”

And despite saying earlier in the day that he didn’t want to be “over religious” about interpreting one of prophet Ratana’s predictions as relating to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he took a sudden turn to the religious once he was before the faithful. At one point, he assured them if they voted NZ First they would be doing “God’s work”. He finished by getting the crowd to repeatedly chant after him: “Amen to the Ratana Movement.”

Plenty of pre-sales talk. Don’t expect much after sales delivery from Peters.

Labour MPs arrived with stickers boasting of the 80-year alliance between Labour and Ratana.

Little announced Labour was extending its policy of offering to pay the equivalent of the dole to employers who took on apprentices from the ranks of the unemployed.

Policy announcements now at Ratana.

Much of Key’s speech was dedicated to rebutting Labour leader Andrew Little’s speech and defending the Trans-Pacific Partnership – an exercise that prompted a rare bout of booing at the marae.

From the look of news coverage it wasn’t just Little that Key was rebutting, other speakers attacked him and the TPPA.

James Shaw launched a Green Party petition to stop the compulsory acquisition of Maori land under the Public Works Act.

Just Maori land? Or do the Greens not think equality applies with that?

Interesting to see Shaw fronting on that. Metiria Turei has been prominent at Ratana in the past.

Until last year, Government and Opposition MPs have been welcomed on separately.

But now they are taken on to the marae in one big dysfunctional family. It would be paradise for David Attenborough.

Watching the politicians in front of foe and friend was akin to watching peacocks in the mating dance, fluffing their tail feathers and alternating between wooing their audience and attacking their rivals.

Stuff: John Key defends Government support for TPPA deal in speech at Ratana

Prime Minister John Key has defended his Government’s support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in a fiery speech to Ratana followers.

Key’s speech came after others at the annual Ratana Church celebrations expressed misgivings about the free trade deal and urged the Government to delay its signing, set down for February 4 in Auckland, until it is discussed more thoroughly with Kiwis.

Little:

Little slammed the Government’s record on worker’s rights and social policy, such as its requirement that cancer sufferers be treated as jobseekers.

He announced Labour would extend its dole for apprenticeships scheme, which gives employers willing to train young apprentices the equivalent of the unemployment benefit, beyond 18- and 19-year-olds to cover those aged up to 24.

He reserved special criticism for the TPPA and the Government’s failure to share enough information about the deal with New Zealanders.

Peters:

NZ First leader Winston Peters criticised the secrecy around the deal before it was signed, and questioned the timing of the signing given the United States was unlikely to ratify it until 2017.

“It’s a scam, it’s a sham and the fact is it may well be a total waste of time…they’re doing it more for show than for substance.”

Peters said he was “particularly concerned” about how the TPPA would allow foreign countries and corporations to comment on New Zealand legislation.

“We’re one of the great democracies…and yet we’re going to sign our sovereignty away to some international group of business interests, and that’s fundamentally wrong.”

Shaw:

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said protests against the TPPA were likely to “ramp up” as the signing date approached, and he believed protesters could yet influence the Government’s support for the deal.

“I can only hope they do [listen] but I have to say their track record would imply they’re not going to.”

Maori Party:

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said there were still a number of questions which needed to be answered about how the TPPA would affect Maori and other New Zealanders.

“We need to figure out this thing…is it the great big demon or are there benefits in there? Yes there will be benefits there economically, but do they translate to all of our people?”

Politicians + media = a hijacked event.

I guess journalists don’t see many headlines or page clicks in religion reports these days.

Ratana ritual

It’s odd to see how Ratana has become an annual ritual for politicians starting their year off.

But party leaders seem compelled to not miss out on the first opportunity of the year to get some publicity.

I can understand Labour associating with Ratana, they have had political connections going back to 1935. “The alliance with Rātana allowed Labour to hold on to all four Māori electorates from the 1940s until 1996” – Wikipedia.

John Key goes knowing that he is likely to get negative publicity. Like Key defends TPP as Ratana crowd boos.

That’s an odd way to kick of the year. I don’t think Key goes to many Grey Power or Greenpeace gatherings.

I think it would be viewed as very odd if party leaders flocked to an annual Catholic event, or a Destiny Church event. There must be many more votes up for grabs amongst those two denominations.

What has become a political ritual at Ratana seems weird.

Metiria Turei versus John Key (Ratana speech)

Metiria Turei continued a tradiotion of “the Māngai spent his life confronting politicians” in her prepared speech for Ratana yesterday.

In fact due to time constraints she didn’t get to make her speech but she distributed her speech notes.

Here is the part of Turei’s speech that referred to John Key.

I want to speak today about one aspect of that legacy, and that is the Māngai’s efforts to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The Māngai spent his life confronting politicians and Pākehā society about the need to provide redress for past injustices and to move forward as a true partnership.

Even now, in 2015, we are still struggling to truly honour the agreement that lies at the foundation of our nation.

This came to a head last month, with the release of stage one of the Waitangi Tribunal’s inquiry into the Treaty claims of Te Paparahi o Te Raki. The decision reflected decades of scholarship and affirms what we, as tangata whenua, have always known: that the Māori text of Te Tiriti o Waitangi never ceded the tino rangatiratanga of Māori over our lands, peoples and resources.

To have this stated, once and for all, was huge. It was an enormous step forward. But the Prime Minister’s response was to knock us several steps back.

John Key had the gall to claim that NZ was settled “peacefully,” as if all Māori grievances evaporated into irrelevance on his command.

But he didn’t finish there. In an attempt to really put us in our place, John Key said Māori would have been grateful for the injection of capital early Pākehā brought with them when they settled in Aotearoa.

Māori would have been grateful. For the capital.

The Prime Minister’s warped and outrageous view of history is deeply offensive to Māori but it also undermines decades of effort by Māori and Pākehā, including even by his own Government, to address some of the historic wrongs and to encourage an understanding of Aotearoa’s true history, both the good and the bad.

While in recent times Governments have made significant progress in completing historical settlements, all too often these are undermined as Ministers resort to cynical dog-whistle tactics that play to the widespread ignorance of Te Tiriti and, in so doing, shore up their Government’s short term political goals.

Sadly, this has long term consequences for all of us, Māori and non-Māori, by entrenching prejudice and wedging us further apart.

We saw this when John Key allowed Pita Sharples to sign the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples in New York, giving the Māori Party a token win and then immediately undermining that by telling journalists the declaration would have “no practical effect.”

And therein lies the rub. John Key can’t actually abide by that declaration because that would mean acknowledging that the Māori text of Te Tiriti is the only legitimate and legally binding text. That would mean conceding that tangata whenua never ceded tino rangatiratanga. That the Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Christopher Finlayson, was so quick to dismiss the Tribunal’s ruling and assert the Crown’s sovereignty, prove that National won’t do this.

I am proud that the Green Party has, for many years, held the Māori text of Te Tiriti as a core part of our party’s constitutional arrangements.

I was honoured, today, to walk on to this marae alongside Labour’s new leader Andrew Little. I am very much looking forward to working with, and getting to know Andrew better.

Our respective parties are focussed on changing the Government in 2017. The Greens are committed to creating a new Government which will be better for Māori and better for Aotearoa New Zealand.

That alternative stands in stark contrast to the current Government that believes New Zealand was settled peacefully and that our people were somehow grateful – grateful for the bloodshed, the loss of millions of hectares of land.

Grateful. For the capital.

From Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei’s Rātana speech

Interesting to see that Turei (with Greens ap;proval presumably) has chosen to start the year in attack mode.

NZ Herald reported Ratana: Turei launches stinging attack on Key

Ratana elders usually frown upon using the occasion for a political speech, but Ms Turei was unrepentant.

“This is a political event. We need to come here and front up to Maori about our Maori policy, our Treaty policy and explain ourselves. And that’s what I’m doing.”

She said Mr Key had to be taken to task for a “disgraceful way to describe New Zealand’s history”.

Green gloves are off.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is filling in for Mr Key and it was left to him to defend the PM.

Mr English said the Greens were “nasty” on occasion and it didn’t serve them well.

“John Key has developed a very positive relationship with Maori even though there isn’t very strong political support among Maori for National. He has focused on a lot of areas they want him to focus on. So I don’t think the audience will be too impressed by it.”

Time will tell whether this is blast at the past from Turei or whether it signals an intention for an aggressive approach by Greens this year.