|Te Haanea and Manenenui - another carving made by our Koro - it was burnt in a fire but survived|
We have often said that we the Maori Party are not left, nor right on the political spectrum, we are simply Maori. I thought it timely to have a look at what exactly that means.
To summarise it in a nutshell - it is our engagement with kaupapa Maori and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
While many political parties have a 'Treaty of Waitangi' policy, or 'Maori development' policy - the Maori Party's whole policy manifesto is built around kaupapa Maori and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This means that every single policy, has been measured on two things:
a) Article 2 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi - which is about our rangatiratanga
b) Article 3 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi - which is about our rights as citizens of Aotearoa
Our policies are built on the premise that - as Maori we have rights such as those outlined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990, and now the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.- and it is up to governments to ensure that we access to those basic rights.
So for example, we have a right to a decent standard of living, a right to housing, to food, and to equal pay, we have the right to freedom of expression, movement, and education, and we have the right to participate as equal citizens of Aotearoa. To date, as reported in many social research documents and reports, Maori do not have an equal standard of living, nor do we have equal access to many things identified in our rights based conventions such as education, health and wellbeing, housing, equal pay etc.
These are the rights that have been reaffirmed to us under Article 3 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This is where the Maori Party policies works towards the social transformation of our Maori communities towards moving us out of poverty, and towards an equal status as New Zealand citizens, with equal access to our basic human rights.
Policies such as removing GST on food, raising the minimum wage to $16, removing tax on the first $25K of income earned, ensuring key infrastructure to rural areas, supporting whanau to purchase homes - even state homes, and increasing support for te pani me te rawakore. Many of the other political parties particularly those on the left of the spectrum are focusing on the same issues - and it is pleasing to see that we have similar policies in this area.
The other part of the Maori Party's policies however is focused on 'rangatiratanga' - which is affirmed to us in Article 2 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi:
"Ko te Kuini o Ingarani ka wakarite ka wakaae ki nga Rangitira ki nga hapu – ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani te tino rangatiratanga o o ratou wenua o ratou kainga me o ratou taonga katoa. Otiia ko nga Rangatira o te wakaminenga me nga Rangatira katoa atu ka tuku ki te Kuini te hokonga o era wahi wenua e pai ai te tangata nona te Wenua – ki te ritenga o te utu e wakaritea ai e ratou ko te kai hoko e meatia nei e te Kuini hei kai hoko mona."
Article 2 as quoted above talks about our rangatiratanga over our whenua, our homes, and all our treasures. Our Treaty settlements - are Article 2 settlements, and do not address our Article 3 rights - so this is an area of tension that must be dealt with in government policy, because the responsibility ultimately lies with the Crown to ensure our Article 3 rights are met.
Rangatiratanga, has been defined as self-determination. It is this element of self-determination that the Maori Party also seek to pursue within our policy document. Our view of rangatiranga is wide, incorporating the various collectives of whanau, hapu, Iwi, community, marae, as well as individual self-determination.
It is rangatiratanga that drives the Maori Party towards pursuing an agenda that would restore decision making back to local communities and regions (our hau kainga) - because it is our view that this is where rangatiratanga belongs.
It is an extension of this concept of rangatiratanga that sees us moving away from dependency on the Crown, because despite their obligations to us under the Treaty, and the international rights conventions - they have not been able to honor their side of the bargain. Our view, is that every law, every process, every system in the governance of this country has not been inclusive of our Maori tikanga, matauranga and kaupapa.
This is a long term issue - which requires a long term solution. The constitutional review is a small step, but it is going to take time.
In the meantime the Maori Party propose to pursue the shifting of power back to our communities, hapu and Iwi by bringing them in to the decision making space with government (rangatira to rangatira). We act as a bridge in the belief that it is our hapu and Iwi must be empowered to exercise decision making for their own benefit within their own boundaries.
We also believe in using our 'rangatiratanga' approach to address key social issues within our Maori communities. We strongly believe that dependency on the State will not provide a long term solution to our overall Maori development, however, we also recognise the need that many of our people have in relation to welfare, housing, health, social support, education and other areas.
We therefore, are pursuing a dual approach in this area. The first is to work towards moving key support services back to marae/hapu and Iwi (Ahi Kaa policy) - properly funded, supported and sustained by government as per their obligations under Article 3 of the Treaty.
The second, is to ensure that we work on the State to ensure that they evolve their service and processes to be more inclusive and helpful to Maori. (Cultural competency, Whanau Ora policy) It is the long term goal of the Maori Party that we have a government that can be trusted to look after our most vulnerable communities - but at this stage, we believe the statistics show us that this is not the reality at the moment.
Our ultimate goal is to have happy, healthy communities, strong whanau, freedom, independence and resiliency. We see this happening through a long term agenda of addressing educational needs, strengthening whanau, creating sustainable development and jobs in communities. We recognise however, the urgent needs of our vulnerable whanau right now - so we are advocating for those to be addressed (minimum wage, housing, GST, working for families, childcare costs etc), while also moving us in a direction of long term self determination.
This is why we do not fit on the 'left or right' political spectrum - because our policies spread across the entire spectrum. We believe both that the State has a role to support people, as do individuals, whanau and community have a role. We believe in the rights of the individual but we also believe in the rights of collectives (whanau, hapu, iwi). We believe in development - but we don't believe that economic priorities alone will get us there. That is what sets the Maori Party apart from other political parties.