At the Maori Party consultation hui
I was at the Maori Party hui yesterday. I am not a Maori Party member nor am I Maori – but I was welcomed in. This should please Maori Affairs minister Parekura Horomia immensely, given his disapproving assertion that the hui was open to Maori Party members only. The hui was more about getting support of the Maori Party leadership as opposed to support of the deal, as the deal was not specified.
The Maori Party was disappointed at the numbers of Maori who voted on November 8. Here’s why: Had a few hundred more came out and voted for Labour and voted for the Maori Party candidates in the two seats it didn’t win, the Maori Party would have won all the Maori seats and Helen Clark would still be Prime Minister.
Perhaps that is why the Maori Party was a little disappointed with the election result. It wanted to go with Labour. So did its supporters. That came across in the hui I attended yesterday in Wellington, where president Whatarangi Winiata outlined the reasons why the Maori Party negotiated an agreement with National, with two ministers outside cabinet and policy gains. Policy gains are better than warming cross benches. All media were asked to leave, but not all bloggers. However new MP Rahui Katene was aware there was a blogger in the marae. Prominent lawyer Donna Hall also spoke. Katene, a lawyer, used to work with Hall.
National didn’t have to approach the Maori Party, but the party is pleased that it did. No mention was made as to what portfolios the Maori Party leaders will get, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Pita Sharples was to get Maori Affairs and Tariana Turia a welfare role. The Party sees Act as a bigger threat than either National or United Future, even though it is Act who is the only one of the three who supports entrenchment of the Maori seats. In fact Act is more of a competitor than the Greens in terms of policy direction.
The Maori Party will be the key to National remaining in power long term – whoever has the Maori seats onside is the Government. Labour knows this and this is why it is trying to derail the relationship between the Maori Party and National. The Maori Party will be wise to remember that it is not a treaty partner: that role is the Maori people. But given that the Maori Party consists of Maori, it is in the party’s best interests to ensure that the relationship with National is the best at can be –and that is the very thing it has to make its top priority if this arrangement is to work.
Labels: Maori Party