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Friday, June 17, 2011

Ratana support shows challenge to Labour for Te Tai Tokerau

The declaration of support by senior members of the Ratana church shows the splintering of the Maori vote following the split between Mana and Maori. It appears that senior members of the 45,000 strong Church are splitting from the traditional Labour vote and participating in a hikoi up North:

Hone is our prophet, Ratana parish says

Members of a Ratana parish are supporting Hone Harawira in the Tai Tokerau byelection - partly because some believe he is the fulfilment of a prophecy.

Kia Maia Ratana Church started a "car-koi" from South Auckland to Kaitaia this morning.

It is led by Kereama Pene, an apotoro rehita (senior minister), who is ineligible to vote in the June 25 byelection because he lives in the Tamaki Makaurau electorate.

But Mr Pene is from Te Tai Tokerau and will be campaigning for the Mana Party on the trip.

He believes Mr Harawira closely embodies an important tenet of church founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

"The founder of Ratana carried two books - the Bible and the Treaty. He always believed that one day the Treaty should become the foundation document of New Zealand. Not just a piece of paper."

However, prophecy was also important, Mr Pene said.

"What [T.W. Ratana] basically said at Ratana Pa is: If all the lights go out or all the people lose hope, the prophet said 'turn your eyes to the north, a young man will rise up carrying the Treaty'.

While the leaders of the Ratana movement have said that they maintain their traditional alliance with Labour and that some members voting for Mana does not mean that the church as a whole has dropped its traditional alliance with Labour, the hikoi up North and support from the Northern branch of Ratana is significant in an area that has many Ratana supporters. While many of these fall outside of the electorate and cannot vote, the Ratana movement is still influential within Maori politics. The polls place Davis and Harawira very closely (40% and 41%), with Solomon trailing for Maori, and this may well be the push that swings the vote. Davis, running for Labour, is well known and liked, but there is increasing frustration with Labour's lack of effectiveness on Maori policies. While unemployment for Maori drops under Labour, as the Ratana speaker Ruia Aperahana stated when scolding Goff, the Maori party had done more for Maori than Labour had in the last 70 years by doing a deal with National. However, with Solomon Tipene lagging behind on 15%, much of this vote might be absorbed by Hone. Although Davis was quick to dismiss Harawira's support from the Ratana Northern branch as the actions of a disgruntled Labour supporter, this is potentially the game changer for one of the country's poorest electorates and there will be some worried people in the Labour camp today.


At 17/6/11 10:12 pm, Blogger jane said...

This is excellent news for Tai Tokerau


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