The rising tide
Hone Harawira had a hui at Whakatane last night. Half of Rotorua seemed to be there and that is a terminal indictment for Te Ururoa Flavell. If you can't hold your home turf you can't hold your seat.
People from all over the Waiariki electorate were there and most were Maori Party... ex-Maori Party. Only one said they would remain with the party - and that was out of loyalty rather than for their policy or performance. The disillusionment was deep and wide. The squeaks from Te Ururoa about a private members bill to have consultation with Iwi over drilling was universally dismissed as too little and too late.
Annette Sykes was in campaign mode at the hui and another articulate and staunch female lawyer, Dale from Whanau a Apanui, explained her Iwi's position and strategies to fight Petrobras. Both of these women gave great speeches and would make fine MPs and no doubt there are many others of similar calibre who will rally around whatever banner Hone will hoist at the end of the month. Buses are being organised to go to that hui in Auckland on the 30th. It is plain that he is running an organised proto-party unit already and that a movement has begun with a momentum set to peak at the right time.
As the Maori Party membership repay the caucus' betrayal of the kaupapa with a defection en masse to Hone's party it does suggest that holding to the non-aggression pact (between Hone and the caucus) will become untenable. In that case two major things will happen:
Firstly the Maori electorates will all be in play - even Parekura's and Tariana's. The Maori electorates have a long history of movements sweeping the seats - often under the Pakeha media's radar; most recently the Maori Party and NZ First before them.
Secondly the contest of the Maori seats and the prospect of winning at least two or three will mean the party vote is seen as not so important (like the Maori Party's party vote was in 2005 and 2008) and because of this emphasis the Pakeha element and contest of seats will not be a priority. This changes what the party will look like. If Hone sticks to not standing in the other Maori seats then a more Pakeha party will result and the party vote becomes all important.
I note that at the hui no mention was made of Sue Bradford or the issue of how to gain Pakeha support. Perhaps understandable given it was a marae setting and most of those involved are ex-Maori Party, but this is something that must be addressed if the movement is to incorporate tau iwi and lift the party vote. Hone can't just rely on the 1 - 2% taken off the Maori Party to bring in enough people to have any significant influence.
It is difficult to imagine Hone making a worse botch than what the caucus has done over the foreshore and seabed fiasco. As long as he keeps telling it like it is then he will be respected. And as long as the Maori Party keeping telling it how it ain't then they are doomed.
And they are doomed. The Maori party list their Achievements" on their website. Achievements? Mixed bag. Not actually that much if you exclude the biggest ticket item - Whanau Ora (a scheme that on paper looks good, but is still captured by Pakeha bureacracy and so cannot do what it was designed to do, as I understand). The next biggest ticket is the Community Max scheme and while it has soaked up some unemployed and put them to some use that has had its problems too - monopolisation of the funding in the latest rounds seems to be an issue now from what I've heard. Both projects may be for the chop if Bill English gets his way. This leaves the tokenistic flying a flag on the harbour bridge and getting the conditional sign up of the NZ government to the UN indigenous rights declaration as the other achievements. The rise in tobacco prices and the ETS are included as gains, but I'm not sure others would see those as achievements per se. So to the constitutional conversation that is promised to be launched soon is not nearly as important as the MMP referendum this year.
What they aren't mentioning of course are the losses. The Takutai Moana bill is the centrepiece of those losses, missed opportunities and fumbles. The inablilty to negotiate anything in the budget for their constituents leaves the Maori Party with no real identifiable wins beyond the few mentioned here. It doesn't seem anywhere near enough given the high expectations when they entered National's web, and seems next to nothing when compared to the bulldozing of policy that the similarly sized Act party under Rodney Hide has managed to extract from the Cabinet for his agenda.
The Maori Party staff in Wellington from what I've heard have lost some good people and from what I've seen coming out of the leaders' office they have also lost touch and direction. They don't know what to do. Now that Hone has left and the Takutai Moana Bill has resulted in mass desertions from the membership they are in deep trouble. Just look at their latest booklet if you need evidence of a drifting organisation without expertise:There's Hone still there for a start. So that's him out and 4 - not 5 - members. The carton arrived along with Te Ururoa and his roadkill of a roadshow in late February so it was already inaccurate when it was being released to the public.
Then there's the spelling mistakes - everywhere. On the back cover:
In the headlines:
How can a political organisation release unproofed crap like this? It's embarrassing. What do the members think who are supposed to distribute this illiteracy? Te Ururoa and Pita are educationalists FFS! This is indicative and symptomatic of poor process, communications and direction. Are the party organisers supposed to correct this shit or will it go straight in the bin? Like the party itself it is dos vedanya binsky for the whole lot.