Saturday, July 23, 2011

Those Maori Seats

A week or so ago I put up some opinion on prevailing Maori national politics. Passing reference was made to the abolition of the Maori seats. Here is a dilation of that brief reference.

Who would have thought ten or fifteen years ago that there would have been a race based political party in the NZ Parliament? Of those crazy enough to voice such heresy, only the demented could have imagined such a party working in close and successful harmony with National and ACT and achieving a number of major legislative victories – the repeal of FSSB and the introduction of Whanau Ora to name a couple.

That’s what we did have, until Dr Brash and John Ansell fell over each other and destroyed cross party relationships so carefully developed and nurtured by Rodney Hide. To describe Brash as a bull in a china shop ill serves the male bovine.

(It’s ironic to note in passing but when one looks past the rhetoric and examines the aspirations of the Maori Party and the ACT Party one finds some remarkable similarities. They both want self determination but each expresses that in a different way. ACT wants freedom from government intrusion, unduly high taxes and welfarism. The Maori Party wants freedom from government intrusion, unduly high taxes and welfare dependence. The Maori Party was prevented from taking this message mainstream for as long as it was saddled with Harawira but now it can go full on.

Next, try and cast your mind forward ten or fifteen years, putting aside your prejudices and try to imagine a New Zealand Parliament where a race based (but not racist) party holds a dozen or more seats, some electoral and some list - with no special racially designated seats in the House.

Then ask yourself the question:-

“How could this ever come about and how could it happen in just fifteen years?”

In a perverse sort of way, it may well happen as a result of unintended consequences. Consequences of ill thought actions being taken today, by politicians of both the left and the right.

1 The first and most important factor has been the forcible ejection of Harawira from the Maori Party and his ensuing formation of the Mana Party, incorporating every black, white or brindle racist or communist ratbag in the country. This, in the same way that GWB attracted all Al Quaeda’s ratbags from other parts of the world to Iraq where they could most conveniently be killed, has pigeon holed and isolated for mainstream New Zealand to now see in broad daylight, all that is unhealthy, unsavoury and downright destructive in the so-called radical Maori Independence movement. Most importantly of all, it has signalled to New Zealanders of all political persuasions that the brown ratbags are NOT to be found any more within the Maori Party, the corollary of which in that the Maori Party suddenly can draw votes from a much broader cross section of the community. The party has cleansed itself and strategically is much stronger than it was.

Such was unlikely the intention of Harawira, McCarten, Sykes and Mutu.

2 The Labour Party has mindlessly pursued its highly unimaginative, despicably misleading and ultimately disastrous policy of aggressively opposing what it calls ‘asset sales.’ In doing so, it is delivering a subliminal message to New Zealanders that a re-elected Labour Party will prevent the country’s citizens from enjoying the privilege of personally owning their own shares in some of the country’s power generation businesses. Yes, that’s the real message from Labour’s foolish ‘stop asset sales’ campaign. While accusing Dr Brash of Maori bashing, Labour is engaged in bashing the whole population, Maori, Pakeha, Chinese, Korean, Indian or Inuit. “We won’t let you own power company shares” is the message from Mallard’s campaign headquarters.

Such was unlikely the intention of the Kiwi bashers Mallard, Goff, King, Cunliffe and Parker.

3 The many Labour Party supporters who DO want to personally own their own power company shares will look for a home for their votes. Those who can’t bring themselves to vote National will find a comfortable home in the new mainstream Maori Party – post Harawira. Definitely not the intention of Mallard, Goff, King, Cunliffe and Parker.

From here one can see the potential genesis of a blossoming Maori Party party vote - and this is the key to the abolition of the Maori seats. It would not surprise me in the slightest if the new ‘cleansed’ Maori Party achieves that magic figure of 5% PV in the polls well before Dr Brash’s carpet bombed ACT Party gets close. (In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if the Maori Party cracks 5% in November while ACT trails the field.)

Once the Maori Party starts to win list seats and polls consistently above say 15% party vote, the whole game changes. Then IT will be in a very strong position to commence negotiations for the abolition of the Maori seats. And what a deal it will be able to extract in return!

Such an achievement will indeed drive a dagger through the heart of the Labour Party and will elevate Messrs Turia and Sharples to sit alongside Sir Apirana Ngata in Maori political history.

SO, all you red necked anti-MMP campaigners, look before you leap. You might get more than you bargained for – more unintended consequences. Maori seats locked in FOR EVER - because it you think mainstream NZ will allow their abolition over a bloodbath, you are mistaken. You need MMP if you want to see the end of Maori seats in the NZ parliament.


Anonymous said...

Under FPP National said it would support the abolition of Maori electorates only when Maori themselves were ready. National had no desire to remove the seats. National knew only too well that if the huge number of Maori Labour votes were released into general electorates then National would never be in Government again. Just think how safe for Labour previously marginal seats, held by National, such as Gisborne, Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo, Hamilton East, Hamilton West,Hauraki, and Raglan would have become. Labour was simply too dumb to recognise this, and were happy with the "four birds in the hand" Maori seats that they would always have. They also realised that they did not have to do any more than have a token Maori Cabinet Minister for appeasement value, and the non-Maori MPs did not have to bother with any Maori dialogue.

15% of votes might be possible some way down the track for the Maori Party, but no more likely than for the Green Party. Much of their "support" would need to come from the disgruntled voters who flocked to Social Credit and the NZ Party when such votes were of protest value only under FPP. Protest votes, now that they count under MMP, are more sparingly cast.

Maori seats locked in FOR EVER may not be as unappealing to the general public as we might think.

And some people will always vote for mavericks, perversely so for the "theatre value". These voters don't really care for politics and are unconcerned how harmful those mavericks can be to the way our public business is conducted.


kehua said...

A very interesting post adolf, I don`t think the general non Maori populace are aware of the Maori political mind. In a culture where there may be many separate Hapu within an Iwi and each Hapu having similar but slightly differing marae protocal it is bred into the people to learn and adhere to the many different ways of achieving a given result so as not to appear ignorant or pushy in the variety of situations that crop up in everyday life. In essence to be `politic` when required, this is evidenced all over the country in times of joy such as weddings,birthdays,and family reunions and of course in times of sadness at Tangi. This is where urban meet rural, where contempory meets traditional where old mixes with young and where strangers and outsiders mix and mingle, generally over days rather than hours. It is in this situation where a great deal of time is spent remembering old times and also current issues. This is where the strength of Maori politics has an advantage over their main stream counterparts who generally only become `political` in the 6 month period before General Elections and are wooed by 2 minute soundbites and Newspaper Headlines from strangers they may have seen on TV but do not personally know. It is this environment where someone is either ` a good fella` or a `useless bugger`, a `straight up` woman or a `silly bitch` no inbetweens. Currently with the Maori Party we have a bunch of ` `good buggers` and a couple of `straight up women` let us hope that the evils of envy and jealousy will not break down the success that has been achieved of this last few years.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Thank you for the compliment, kehua.

Kurt I was not suggesting the notion of 'locked in forever' was unappealing to the general populace but it certainly is to a sector of the gang which is loudly pushing for a return to FFP or something very similar.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

I omitted to point out that is is not just the Maori Roll Labour voters who are potential swingers to the MP but the general roll Labour voters who become alienated as well. That's the real pay off to the MP for the ejection of Harawira and that's the real mistake which Labour are making.

Just as Helen Clark created the Maori Party by her arrogance, Trevor Mallard is giving it a 'step change boost' into the future by his stupidity.

In the space of just a few weeks the political landscape for the MP has changed, and in my view, very much for the better.

Anonymous said...

The general roll Labour voters giving their list vote to the Maori Party will only partly redress some of the imbalance caused by Maori roll voters who vote for Maori Party candidates but give their list vote to Labour, "a bob each way" because they would prefer the Maori Party in a coalition of the left. Maori roll voters know that their list vote for the Maori Party will not increase the Maori Party's presence in Parliament (unless Labour picked up more of the Maori electorate seats).
MMP has some benefit for minor parties, mostly for the individuals who are MPs, but without genuine goodwill extended to them such as John Key has with the Maori Party, then it is of little real value. What has the Green Party ever achieved, even under a socialist Government?
Epsom is a shocking example of how MMP contorts what should be a straight forward vote. Voters are urged to vote strategically when their own preference may be quite different. Epsom is only one of several in such an invidious situation of party political machinations.
MMP was supposed to create a situation where able people with a huge contribution potential for the good of the country could be shoulder tapped for a list spot when they would be either unlikely to stand in an electorate, or be unsuitable as a constituent MP. Only Tim Groser and Steven Joyce would currently fit that bill. Lindsay Mitchell and Cathy Odgers are possibilities, as "was" Don Brash several years ago (even Michael Cullen at a stretch). But the parties have used the list mechanism as a loyalty guarantee tool for MPs that the electorate has deemed dispensible.
I regarded FPP as preferable because the candidates stood to represent individual electorates in the House of Representatives. They had a duty to every citizen regardless of political affiliation. They did what was in the community's best interest or they perished at the next election. I lived in the most marginal seat in the country for many years, and the only time even a hint of pork barrel politics could have been suggested, the promoting party lost the seat.
The 5% viewpoint can be represented in Parliament without 5% of (list) seats in Parliament dogmatically demanding attention. Who currently represents the 4%, and less, viewpoint?
MPs of Maori extraction have represented general roll electorates, and why shouldn't they? As have MPs of other ethnic extraction. They would have done so without MMP. They are respected across their communities.
I am not campaigning for a change of political system, but will vote for the system that I think will give us the best representation.


Mort said...

rose tint those glasses much Adolf. I agree that the MP could increase their vote, but 15%... perhaps when the Maori population is 20% of the total. The failure of their party lies in their name. It being race based defines the boundaries of their appeal. Yes they may espouse some ideals that are similar to what ACT want, but the target markets are totally different, as are their actual ways of implementing the stated goal. The MP will base their goals on a collective whereas ACT will base theirs on individuals. Inevitably the collective ideology will define boundaries that will be a bridge too far for most non-Maori.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...


Of course they are rose tinted. That's the only way any progress ever is made. BUT they are not nearly as rose tinted as they would have been in 1996 to have predicted the rise of the existing Maori Party.

Also, you forget to account for the meny hundred thousands of Kiwis with Maori ancestry who are not on the Maori roll. It's my guess the total on both rolls might well exceed 50% of the population. Changes the maths a bit when they are skillfully targeted for their party vote.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Not too long ago Adolf and The Cook spent a week in the island nation of Mauritius. It has a parliamentary system which the Maori Party might well study.

Essentially, there are 7o seats of which 8 are allocated by a special standing commission to ensure all ethnic groups have proportional representation - no matter what the result from the FFP system of the other 62 seats.

Mauritians are intensely proud of this system which they say is largely responsible for amicable co-existance between Christians, Muslims and Hindu political groupings.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading a projection as to when NZ's population would be 50% with Maori ancestry. The detail escapes me but I think it was beyond 2020, but the projection was probably made 20 plus years ago. What was the result in the last census?