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Personalities always loom large over Maori politics, but the latest internal struggles played out at Ratana over the past few days reflect more than just personal political ambitions.
The tensions reflect, according to Morgan Godfery, ‘deep dysfunction within the parliamentary and party wings’ compounded by an ‘anaemic caucus and a debilitated membership’ – see his blogpost Trouble in the Maori Party: Act I.
Pita Sharples’ isolation from Tariana Turia and Te Ururoa Flavell is a growing problem says Godfery, not helped by Flavell’s drive – assisted by President Pem Bird – to become leader. He warns ‘Te Ururoa’s reckless ambition already led to the creation of the Mana Party, he must be careful not to let it lead to a death warrant for the Maori Party’ – see: Quick comments on a Mana Maori Party. Ex-Te Tai Tonga MP Rahui Katene has joined in with a bid for both co-leader and Turia’s Te Tai Hauauru electorate – see TV3’s Flavell, Katene want Maori Party co-leadership.
While Maori politics is often played out more publicly than the pakeha version, the Maori Party’s political management has for a long time been little short of disastrous, particularly since Pem Bird took over the president’s role. To have a leadership challenge spill out at the annual Ratana gathering, surrounded by the assembled press gallery and political foes, is simply incompetent.
Mana leader Hone Harawira may have actually forced it all out in the open by claiming that Maori Party members in Te Tai Tokerau want him to lead a unified movement. That could be dismissed easily (and quickly was by Turia and Flavell) but Sharples’ response that the two parties should be talking about a merger and that ‘it's a bit silly to have two Maori-kind of parties’ – see Newswire’s Harawira 'dictatorship' unwelcome – Turia would have raised the paranoia levels up several notches.
Claire Trevett writes that such a merger is very unlikely given the antipathy, and that Harawira would just add to their problems rather than solving them – see: Harawira's offer doesn't deserve a look in. She says that what the Maori Party needs most is stability, which is undoubtedly true right now, but ignores the basic political pressures causing the ructions. It is always much easier for parties to appear unified and focused when the polls are good and careers aren’t in immediate jeopardy. Even if the Maori Party can sort out an orderly leadership transition – and there is little evidence of that to date – the reality is they face a huge struggle to hold on to their three current seats in 2014, irrespective of who is wearing what badges.
It is all a far cry from 2004 when, as Chris Trotter writes, the dream was that the Maori Party would harness the growing voting power of Maori and leverage it against National and Labour – see: Maori Party's founding tenets starting to unravel. Ignoring the material interests of the majority of working class Maori has been fatal to that dream, especially as ‘it was the Maori Party's misfortune to enter into a confidence-and-supply agreement with the National Party just as a global financial crisis was hurling tens of thousands of young Maori into joblessness and underemployment’.
The divide between Mana and the Maori Party has a real and clear ideological base beyond personalities. Despite this, there remains huge doubt as to whether two separate Maori parties can survive in Parliament in the long term. The call for a unified independent political movement, as unlikely as it is right now, continues to have wide political appeal, voiced at Ratana by senior leader Ruia Aperahama – see: RNZ’s Ratana Church supports Mana-Maori alliance. Those wanting a single independent Maori political force will probably have their wish granted eventually, but it is much more likely to come about as a result of attrition than negotiation.
Other important or interesting recent political items include:
• This week’s Cabinet reshuffle has been declared bold and impressive but there have been some naysayers. Both Danyl Mclauchlan (Respect!) and Mark Blackham (Cabinet reshuffle) are less convinced than some, with Blackham saying that ‘It's not much of a refresh. The real story is that in the fifth year of his administration, Key is in the same position as many predecessors; struggling to identify more good performers among ranks just outside Cabinet’. Gordon Campbell also identifies problems in his post, On the Cabinet reshuffle. Meanwhile, TV3 has reported my explanation for Hekia Parata being retained while other ministers were sacked – see: Edwards: Why Parata kept her job. And Cathy Odgers makes some similar points in her post, If It Looks Like A Spade And Smells Like A Spade.... Highly recommended is Jane Clifton’s A gutsy and weirdly blinkered National reshuffle.
• Housing is the big policy issue of the day, with plenty of policy prescriptions being rolled out. Rodney Hide questions whether the various policies on state housing are simply about buying votes, and asks ‘whose interests do state houses serve? Politicians or tenants?’ – see: State house policy must free tenants from rentals.
• Some difficult questions are also asked about the current Government policy on interest-free student loans in Richard Meadows’ Bitter pill should be swallowed.
• We’re going to hear a lot about local government this year – and especially about amalgamations. That’s why it’s worth reading Pattrick Smellie’s Local reform coming, ready or not. For a lesson in central government intervention, see Kerry Burke’s How ECan fell to the irrigators.
• Are New Zealanders too anti-business? The departing head of NZ Coca-Cola has said so, leading to a debate about whether we value capitalists enough. The Herald has responded with an editorial saying that Business criticism hard to fathom. Matt McCarten has taken up the health aspect of the drinks manufacturer criticism, saying When your product benefits health, George, I'll show you some respect. But according to David Farrar, McCarten’s argument actually reinforces the CEO’s point – see: McCarten on Coke.
• David Shearer’s upcoming ‘state of the nation’ speech will emphasise Labour’s economic differences with National, particularly the notion that Labour is now interventionist in contrast to National’s ‘hands off’ approach. John Armstrong says, ‘Shearer's more clear-cut position-taking will offer something voters have not enjoyed for a long time - a real choice between the two major parties on the fundamentals of economic policy’ – see: A new year, a new clarity from Shearer. But David Farrar makes some excellent points in his blog post, Not very hands off, in which in he illustrates just how economically interventionist this National Government actually is. He correctly points out that ‘the current differences between National and Labour in terms of involvement in the economy tend to be around the details, not a fundamental disagreement that the Government has a role in economic development’.
• If you want to look at what biculturalism means in 2013, John McCrone’s feature in The Press on Ngai Tahu's reach is highly recommended. Despite being the ‘whitest of New Zealand cities’, Christchurch is about to be rebuilt with the local iwi in the front seat, and it’s likely that even ‘street signage will also be dual language’, and the Avon River’s English willow trees could be cut down as part of the ‘Maorification’ of the new city.
• Steve Braunias’ wicked ‘Secret Diary’ series starts again this weekend, and he’s written a precursor to it, to explain what motivates him – see: Mocking Kiwis with a mix of love and loathing.
• TV One’s Seven Sharp programme is still generating plenty of opinion, despite not actually being screened yet. The most useful recent items include Paul Little’s A hapless half hour, John Drinnan’s Dotcom mania too much, and Scott Kara’s Jesse Mulligan: I want to be like Jon Stewart.
• Finally, if you want to know what’s going to happen in politics for the rest of the year, all you have to do is read Toby Manhire’s very funny and perceptive column, The year in review in advance.
NZPD Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Morgan Godfery (Maui St): Trouble in the Maori Party: Act I
Morgan Godfery (Maui St): Quick comments on a Mana Maori Party
Claire Trevett (Herald):Harawira's offer doesn't deserve a look in
Kate Chapman (Stuff): Labour works on Ratana appeal
Claire Trevett (Herald): Turia plays down upheaval at top
Claire Trevett (Herald): Ratana choosy who gets the love
Newswire: Shearer to return to Ratana
Claire Trevett (Herald): Flavell staying silent over leadership challenge
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Wonder if other churches will be allowed to become Labour affiliates?
The Standard: Annette Sykes: a future MP?
Kate Chapman (Stuff): Don't take us for granted Maori warn politicians
Grant Duncan (Policy matters): Maori MPs provide the entertainment
The Standard: Maori Party in terminal decline
Newswire: Silence from Maori Party over leadership
Claire Trevett (Herald): Political leaders speak at Ratana
Pete George (Your NZ):“Maori Party…dead or dying”
Newswire: Harawira still pushing for party merger
Cathy Odgers (Cactus Kate): Maori Party Make John Banks Look Stable
Martyn Bradbury (Tumeke): MANA-Maori Party - Political Hybrid Vigor?
Laura McQuillan (Newswire): Harawira leader bid could affect Govt deal
Kate Chapman (Stuff): Flavell in hunt for Sharples' job
Laura McQuillan (Newswire) and TV3: Maori Party overshadows Ratana events
Katie Bradford-Crozier (Newstalk ZB): Cracks evident in Maori Party
Claire Trevett (Herald): Shearer to stay on at Ratana Pa
Claire Trevett (Herald): Sharples to stay after leadership showdown
Anthony Robins (The Standard): Let it go Pita
Mike Barrington (Northern Advocate): Harawira: I'd lead Maori - Mana Party
Vernon Small (Stuff): Harawira mulls Maori Party return
Newswire: Harawira suggests party merger
Dan Satherley (TV3): Maori Party in 'terminal decline' - Harawira
Andrew Geddis (Pundit): Jesters do oft prove prophets
Tim Selwyn (Tumeke): Oh, the madness
Claire Trevett (Herald): Maori Party leadership challenge confirmed
Laurel Stowell (Wanganui Chronical): Ratana speech rumours cause a stir
Jane Clifton (Listener): Jane Clifton: a gutsy and weirdly blinkered National reshuffle
Dan Satherley (TV3): Edwards: Why Parata kept her job
John Armstrong (Herald): Smiling Assassin sets his bar for competence
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Key ruthless in demoting Cabinet ministers
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Return of the smiling assassin
Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On the Cabinet reshuffle
Kate Chapman (Stuff): Parata acknowledges mistakes made
The Standard:Late analysis on the reshuffle
Newstalk ZB: Mixed reaction to Cabinet reshuffle
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim-Post): Respect!
Mark Blackham (Blackland PR): Political slate / Cabinet reshuffle
Dominion Post: Editorial – Reshuffle raises eyebrows
Audrey Young (Herald): Changes aim to rejuvenate face of party before election
The Press: Editorial – Rejig lacks fireworks
Warwick Rasmussen (Manawatu Standard): Editorial – Key shaping his A team
Waikato Times: Editorial – Tonic or more of same?
Audrey Young (Herald): Rising young talent 'excited, humbled'
Robert Winter (Idle thoughts): Key and Kaye
Dan Satherley (TV3): Shearer questions PM's judgement over Parata
Dan Satherley (TV3): David Shearer wastes no time attacking Nick Smith
Andrea Vance (Stuff): Parata survives but Joyce called in
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Ruthless
Cathy Odgers (Cactus Kate): If It Looks Like A Spade And Smells Like A Spade....
Newswire: Sacked ministers accept their fate
Martyn Bradbury (Tumeke): The faux surprise by Key's 'bold' Cabinet reshuffle
Mike Dinsdale (Northern Advocate): Heatley takes positives from Cabinet dumping
Newswire: Cabinet to hold first meeting of 2013
The Standard: Hello everybody! Hi Dr Nick!
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): I've served my time away: Nick Smith
Newswire: Key backs Parata to perform
Claire Trevett (Herald): PM defends Parata's performance
Kate Chapman (Stuff): Cunliffe 'not challenging Shearer'
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Not very hands off
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Salmond rejoins the Labour Leader’s Office
Chris Trotter (Stuff): Strategy vital for hopefuls before leadership vote
The Standard: For a February leadership vote
John Armstrong (Herald): A new year, a new clarity from Shearer
The Standard: Shearer to put it to the vote
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): A Labour Membership Vote Seems Unlikely
Greg Presland (Waitakere News): What has to happen to the Labour Party
Pete George (Your NZ): Labour Party members pissed on again
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Is Shearer going to call for a full membership vote?
Pete George (Your NZ): Te Reo Mokemoke promoting a certain Shearer win
Pete George (Your NZ): Another Eddie in murky Labour waters
Robert Winter (Idle thoughts): Mr Shearer's "clarity"?
Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On the crisis in affordable housing
David Killick (Stuff): New housing solutions desperately needed
Kieran Campbell (APNZ): Auckland stays near top of unaffordable list
Kieran Campbell (APNZ): Novice buyers told to lower sights
Michael Daly (Stuff): Govt could run housing land supply - English
Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): Greens offer families homes
Dan Satherley (TV3): Greens unveil 'rent-to-buy' housing scheme
Pete George (Your NZ): Greens challenge Labour on housing policy
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Why not just have the Govt build and own all the homes?
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Green Taliban supports selling state houses… and rent control
Robert Winter (Idle thoughts): The Greens' Housing Package
Holly Walker (Frogblog): A tour of Auckland’s housing challenges
Eric Crampton (Offsetting behaviour): Housing, with a bit of English
Rodney Hide (Herald): State house policy must free tenants from rentals
Matt Stewart (Stuff): Ghetto born from state housing neglect
Newswire: Greens' housing policy 'Monopoly' - Key
Cathy Odgers (Cactus Kate): Come To NZ - The Nice Stupid People Will Finance Your Home
Pete George (Your NZ): Major flaw in Labour-Green housing policies
Ben Clark (The Standard): Complementary Housing
Kate Shuttleworth (APNZ): Govt criticises Greens' housing plan
Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On the Greens housing proposals, and Pita Sharples
John Key state of nation speech
Audrey Young and Kate Shuttleworth (Herald): Key: NZ needs to be 'magnet for investment'
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Plenty hanging on leaders' speeches
Newswire: Opposition parties scorn Key's speech
Business-friend New Zealand?
Matt McCarten (Herald): When your product benefits health, George, I'll show you some respect
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): McCarten on Coke
The Standard: Think big & embrace the rot
Will de Cleene (Gonzo): Coke Pimp Leaves NZ with Case of Sour Grapes
Rob O’Neill (Stuff): World Bank wants us to think big
Robert Winter (Idle thoughts): No, Mr Glenn
John Key in Antarctica
Lynley Bilby (Herald): Maybe a wee dram of whisky will help your memory, John
Deidre Mussen (Stuff): PM hopes to follow Scott's footsteps
Isaac Davison (Herald): PM waxes lyrical after landing in Antarctica, 'a place of great beauty'
John Key’s health
Adam Bennett (Herald): Jetlag ruled out as factor in Prime Minister's collapse at restaurant
Kloe Palmer (TV3): Diners gasped as PM fainted
Ethnicity and Treaty politics
Gehan Gunasekara (Herald): Treaty principles here to stay
Ewen McQueen (Herald): There can be only 'one sun in the sky' and that's the Crown
Morgan Godfery (Maui St): Fact checking David Round
Rod Vaughan (NBR): Why other Kiwis must stop fawning to the shrill cries of Maori
John McCrone (The Press): Ngai Tahu's reach
Claire Robinson (Spinprofessor): Is it any wonder that news media outlets have difficulty finding female “expert” commentators willing to stand up and speak out?
John Drinnan (Herald): Dotcom mania too much
Scott Kara (Herald): Jesse Mulligan: I want to be like Jon Stewart
Steve Braunias (Stuff): Mocking Kiwis with a mix of love and loathing
Paul Little (Herald): A hapless half hour
Victoria Young (NBR): Still no sponsor for TVNZ's Seven Sharp
John Roughan (Herald): Holmes gets to hear his best reviews
Paul Thomas (Herald): For making our country a better place ... a knighthood well earned
Sarah Stuart (Herald): Twelve Questions with Raewyn Rasch
Martyn Bradbury (Tumeke): The horror of Seven Sharp (Dear Mr Sainsbury - I am so very sorry)
Tim Selwyn (Tumeke): 7 sharp
Peter Griffin (Future news): Blogger rakes in hundreds of thousands with subs push
The Standard: Media Bias & Democracy II: beyond 2 sides
Karl du Fresne (Stuff): Dropping objectivity would be a disaster
Government film funding
Anthony Hubbard (Stuff): NZ a star paying to act in a supporting role
Kate Chapman (Stuff): Middle-earth not real, by the way
David Fisher (Herald): How Key's Tinseltown trip kept NZ industry in frame
David Fisher (Herald): Union weakness lured films
Garry Maddox (Sydney Morning Herald): Hobbit trilogy inspires another boom
Adam Bennett (Herald): Government to announce future of grants
Gordon Campbell (Stuff): Movies a wise investment
Toby Manhire (Guardian): Mega spectacle at launch of Kim Dotcom's new file-sharing site
David Fisher (Herald): Fake raid marks start of Mega
William Mace (Stuff): Dotcom: Now I'm after Google
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): Mega business model 'very different'
Russell Brown (Public Address): MegaBox: From f**k-all to zero
Waikato Times: Editorial – Lift lid on crime fighter
Yvonne Tahana (Herald): Doctorates where the big money is
Jody O’Callaghan (Stuff): Degrees ranked by earning potential
Sarah Robson (Newswire): Changes will hurt postgrad students
Georgina Hampton (ODT): Cuts 'short-sighted' for New Zealand
Southland Times: Editorial – Digital education
Graeme Edgeler (Public Address): The hopeful disallowance of the New Zealand Teachers Council (Conduct) Rules 2004
Southland Times: Editorial – Protecting the wrong people
Waikato Times: Editorial – Lift this shroud of secrecy
Charley Mann (Stuff): Charter school bill gets big response
Jamie Morton (Herald): Govt accused of ignoring advice on clean, green brand
Peter Whitmore (Herald): Immediate action needed to reduce carbon emissions
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Government to finance irrigation
Pattrick Smellie (Stuff): Local reform coming, ready or not
Kerry Burke (Stuff): How ECan fell to the irrigators
Taranaki Daily News: Time for a Cull-like epiphany here too?
Audrey Young (Herald): Welfare reform priority for English
Dominion Post: Editorial – Unfairness in drug testing bill
Ben Heather (Stuff): Welfare drug tests may break privacy law
Corin Dann (TVNZ): Economy 'front and centre' for Govt this year - Key
Bernard Hickey (Herald): Fat cats egg us on to throw our cheddar down debt hole
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Inflation
Peter Lyons (ODT): Greatest invention double-edged sword
Matthew Jones (Herald): Minimum wage rises destroy jobs for those most in need
Bryan Gould (Herald): Crisis in manufacturing goes unheeded
Jason Krupp (Stuff): Christchurch rebuild adds impetus for manufacturers
Michael Berry (Stuff): Flat tax rate for Christchurch opposed
Vernon Small (Stuff): Government deficit improves