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Monday, September 22, 2008

The Maori Party and Maori aspirations post election


Matthew Hooton writes ( in the Sunday Star Times today ) what I consider to be the most "on the button" column on the Maori Party in the MSM to date. Yet that's not saying much.

Here's my own column length post.

Hooton believes the Maori Party could hold the balance of power and if it sits on the cross benches that is veiled support of the governing party. That governing party, likely to be National, has a better view of whanau and a closer voting record than Labour on Maori aspirations, including self determination, Treaty settlements and devolution. Hooton writes that if the Maori Party rejects National and it governs alone, that would be the end of the Maori Party when National abolishes the Maori seats.

Yet Maori Party aspirations in Government is not about the Treaty, it is not even about National or Labour. It is about Maori development and Maori aspirations of which the Treaty is part. I believe the Maori Party view a ministerial warrant an essential part of this in terms of its role post November 8. However, which party they go with or the form of any agreement - coalition, cooperation - is less important than the function in terms of the value to Maori developmental aspirations. These aspirations are broader than how they fit into Government - they relate to governance, autonomy, mana motuhake, tino rangitiratanga, and self-determination, and I really wish the mainstream media understood this..

What Hooton didn't say was that there is no way that the Maori Party will go with Labour unless it is forced to do so to achieve Maori aspirations. And it won't be forced to do so. That is why National will govern. But will the party go as far as to entrench the Maori seats to get Maori support? Hooton thinks it is possible.

And there is the Ratana support of the Maori seats. November 8, as Whale Oil seems to have recently discovered, is the most important date in the Ratana Church. This year is the 90th anniversary of the date that Ratana sought to have the Treaty of Waitangi made part of the constitution. Yet Whale Oil considers that Helen Clark chose the election date was chosen because so many Ratana will be busy and she thinks they won't vote.

I disagree totally. I don't think she chose November 8 for that reason as I think she knows that Ratana will vote - and in force.

Ratana will be out in force as it wants the Treaty entrenched - and note that this does not necessarily mean that the Maori seats will be entrenched, as the Maori seats are not Treaty based. However, for the first time, a party in this election who has a real chance of gaining power has a policy to entrench the Treaty - as well as the Maori seats. Ratana was founded on the need to make the Treaty as part of the constitution. A petition to that effect was presented to King George V by Ratana, and Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is proud of the fact that her grandfather accompanied Ratana to London to present it.

I believe that Labour sees the Maori Party as a threat. They should. I believe Hone Hariwira is has joined the "don't vote Labour" brigade, and is telling iwi and hapu to vote either Maori Party or National with the party vote. Yet National does not see the Maori Party as a threat, and with Maori Party kingmaking pressure, could be swayed to commit to supporting a bill to entrench the Treaty or to progress Maori development aspirations in an autonomous way and Hariwira, Turia and Pita Sharples know this.

( update BTW, Hariwira was on Agenda yesterday and the transcript is here.)

Given that Turia has turned her back on Labour, I think she will tell iwi, backed up with the reasons I have stated, that she will be more happy talking to National than Labour post November 8 - and that her first preference is not a formal coalition agreement. She needs iwi and hapu support.

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