Maori Party tangi

The Māori Party isn’t dead yet – they may or may not survive – but ‘funeral’ is a shortened version of tangihanga anyway.

Māori dictionary definition of tangi:

verb: to cry, mourn, weep, weep over

noun: sound, intonation, mourning, grief, sorrow, weeping, lament, salute, wave

There has been weeping and grieving over the electorate loss of Te Ururoa Flavell, the failure of Howie Tamati in his electorate, and therefore the exit from Parliament of both Flavell and Marama Fox.

I also lament what could be the end of the Māori Party. It will be difficult for them to come back from this, unless perhaps Labour get into Government this term and do another foreshore and seabed type betrayal of their strengthened Māori support.

Flavell was not flashy , but he was a hard working MP and Minister, dedicated to the Māori cause. He is a big loss.

Fox was a first term MP but she made a big impression. She had some controversial ideas, but she always argued her case with gusto and with passion. She had to be one of the better performing first termers. Sad also to see her go.

Māori voters have proven to be good tactical voters at times in the past, but I think they stuffed up this election, or may have, depending on the outcome of governing arrangements.

If Labour get to form the next government their increased number of Māori MPs may mean better Māori representation – or not. Labour has a history of not delivering.

It seems that a number of Māori voters were besotted with Jacinda Ardern, but Ardern has not shown a lot of connection with and empathy for Māori. She barely advocated on Māori issues in the election debates, she didn’t give them much attention in her campaigning. There was no sign of Māori at her election night speech.

Since then Ardern has said she will not agree to a referendum on the Māori seats in negotiations with NZ First. That’s a positive for Māori if she sticks to it, but what if that makes a coalition with NZ First impossible?

What if for any reason Labour doesn’t get to form the next Government?

Without the Māori Party there will be reduced Māori representation where it matters. It’s hard to even think of which National MP might be Minister of Māori Affairs, a role filled by Māori Party MPs over the last three terms.

NZ First might even negotiate a Māori seat referendum with National, the latter actually having the abolition of the Māori seats in their policy but left alone while they included the Māori Party in government.

If there is a general referendum on the Māori seats they may well end up being scrapped.

The Māori Party may not quite be ready for tangihanga, but Māori voters may end up doing some wailing and lamenting as a result of them dumping the party whose sole purpose was to promote Māori interests.

The tangi may have only just begun.