By D Thompson.
I have a suggestion to make - as someone who is not on the Maori roll but is an interested bystander ...
1. In 2008 the Maori MPs asked their people whether they should have an understanding with the National Party, who had won the 2008 election. Te Ururoa had stated on several occasions that "something was better than nothing" i.e. this was a compromise but it was important to be able to get SOME things accomplished, rather than nothing.
This morning I heard Hone Harawira on the radio (being interviewed) and he implied that the Maori Party were not being true to their original principles (but he was), that they had worked against Maori interests by aligning themselves with National - and he mentioned "principles" and, ironically, "compromise". But this seems contrary to what many of us believe represents "compromise"... and Hone Harawira seems to forget several important items, including (#2., 3., and 4.).
2. ACT PARTY - there have been several ACT ads. One (presumably put together by John Ansell) showed that the Maori Party have made several gains important to Maori. Which Ansell/Brash didn't approve of.(Sorry don't have a copy, electronic or otherwise).
3. CONSERVATIVE PARTY - In my letterbox today is another flyer by Colin Craig of the Conservative Party, which has 'unity' as a theme.
And is against:
a) Maori seats - wants one electoral system - says National shouldn't be maintaining Maori seats
b) allowing selected iwi to gain control of the Foreshore and Seabed - against National passing the 2011 act renouncing crown ownership
c) National arranging to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in secret and without any mandate from the people
4. NZ is a democracy - rather than autocracy. There are currently 120 MPs - including 50 list MPs. For a Bill to become an Act it needs a majority of MPs to vote for it to become legislation. Yet Hone Harawira has said there are only 21 MPs. Many of whom are MPs for different parties. It seems that it wasn't until Sue Bradford and John Minto became part of the Mana Party that Hone Harawira has moderated his (seeming) Maori focus - to now include 'the poor'.
Given that we all live in 'the real world', why are so many Maori choosing to believe that what Hone Harawira and Annette Sykes are saying is achievable?
Maori represent less than 20% of NZ residents i.e. those who are able to vote. Many Maori are not on the electoral roll. Probably some because debt collectors such as Baycorp use the electoral roll to track people down. There are multitudes of Chinese and Indians in the world - both are ancient civilisations. Pākeha in NZ may themselves be outnumbered in NZ by other ethnicities by 2025. Times have changed. So in a logistical and practical sense, the Mana Party doesn't make sense. I think they are offering many Maori false hope. At least the Maori Party is prepared to truly compromise. I'm surprised that so many Maori locally just don't seem 'to get it'. Or maybe choose not to.
John Key said to Phil Goff "show me the money". I think Hone Harawira and Annette Sykes should be made to show Maori HOW their policies would work - taking in the 'big picture' i.e.
a) how they will get a majority of MPs voting for their Bill or policy and
b) how they can provide breakfast and lunches to 'children in need' when many parents are struggling but ensure their children have breakfast and a lunch
Do children have to compete with each other for a free breakfast or lunch? What about the proud ones? Who is expected to enforce that some children will get free food and others will not? Or will ALL children in a low decile school get a free breakfast and lunch? What about children at other schools? Will they become aware of that and mock children at low decile schools? Children can be harsh.
I don't think that the Mana Party, although possibly well intentioned, have thought through some of what they are saying. I also think they are offering false hope to many. And what of those who are already extremely stressed? How will they feel if they have assisted in the Mana campaign and belatedly discover that, ultimately, they are no better off? Is that fair?
So I think the Maori Party could do a TV ad flicking a scanned copy of the ACT ad - think it was in the NZ Herald? - and the Conservative Party ad just out and could say that two other parties have noticed that the Maori Party have made some gains. To make gains you have to sit at the top table. You might not like everything that happens, but you get to say what you want. And you compromise. That's necessary in any successful relationship - politics, working life and personal relationships. The Maori Party still has principles. A possible analogy might be that in 1860 the young bloods of Tainui went to Taranaki to fight against the loss of Maori land. The NZ govt passed an act (think in 1863?) and in 1863 Tainui fought against the NZ army and lost much of the fertile Waikato land. It might have been different if handled differently. Maybe not.
If the Maori Party get (say) 4 or 5 seats (hopefully more) then they may be the power broker in the 2011 election - which may be a closer race than currently thought. The Maori voters could ensure that.
Perhaps they should think about what has been gained - and how important it is to have some power - rather than being in a position where you are too radical for either large party to be prepared to work with you as you're too volatile and they don't trust you.
Just a suggestion ...