Monday, 28 November 2011

The casualties of war

I have often thought that politics is the modern form of warfare. Our taiaha replaced by words, and our new enemy is philosophy. The end point is still the same, control and power.

Two days after the election, the dust has now settled. For me as a player in the war, I feel as if I am standing on a hill looking over the battlefield at our casualties. The casualties of our war. The sad thing is, there are a lot of good people from all parties lying in that heap, and I particularly lament our Maori politicians.

The Maori Party have been reduced by one, losing a fierce and staunch representative in Te Tai Tonga - Rahui Katene. As a perpetual student of politics, I see her as one of the most hard working MP's in parliament, and arguably the best representative that Te Tai Tonga has had in my generation.

We have lost Kelvin Davis, another hard working and committed MP. I recently saw a tweet by Tau Henare that for the first time ever, Te Tai Tokerau has not had a Labour Party representative in Parliament. I often judge our representatives based on their intentions, I have seen that some are committed to the kaupapa of advancing Maori aspirations, and some are committed to advancing their own personal aspirations. Kelvin, from my viewpoint represented the first of these categories - committed to educational achievement, and transformation of the lives of the Maori people in the North. A tragic loss to parliament.

There are other Maori hopefuls who also marched on to the battlefield for the first time, valiant in their endeavors, and true in their intent to uplift Maori aspirations. They too should be admired and remembered for their commitment to the kaupapa, and I hope that they will pick themselves up and carry on to the next battle in three years time. We have many of those in our own Party, but there are also others across the political spectrum in parties such as Labour and Mana.

The losses for Maori are many and there were only three winners in this election - National, NZ First and the Greens. I am happy for only one of the fore-mentioned parties. I think it's fabulous that the Greens will maintain good representation in parliament.

The war was short but sharp, and delivered the left and the centrists a blow. It is only now as we look at the new lay of the land that we can fully appreciate the damage, and start to strategise towards the future.

For Maori we saw a small battle within a battle between the Maori Party and Mana Party. We could have both knocked each other out (at times it felt like this was the aim), but we didn't. We both survive, albeit as a very small minority. We did a very good job of attacking ourselves though, something I had blogged about in an earlier post "The Politics of Distraction" - I do wish we would stop killing ourselves off, and focus on the big picture.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and it is moments like this, when all sides have suffered losses that you move into a period of reflection. Where to from here? This will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on. I think what is clear is that our Maori people still have major attachments to Labour, as evidenced in the high proportion of Party votes they got in the Maori seats. Those brave enough to give their Party votes to the Maori political parties equaled 2.35% in total - I'm not sure this is enough to sustain even one Maori political party.

Looking now into the future, we clearly have a major right wing block who will govern the country. The Maori Party are in a difficult position moving forward. We have three choices, walk away completely, enter into a policy based agreement (Memorandum of Understanding - similar to the Greens arrangement), or a confidence and supply agreement.

It will be interesting to see how people steer us. From my perspective, I see the benefits and risks of all of the arguments. A MoU arrangement sounds good, but it leaves our previous gains up in the air, such as the Constitutional Review, Whanau Ora, Whare Oranga Ake, Nga Pu Waea, Kaitoko and Oranga Whanau, and many others. On the other hand, how can we go back when the votes from our people tell us that we are not on the right path?

The Maori Party will hold hui over the next week to get feedback on these options. Engagement by the community will be critical in these hui - and I encourage all of us to keep an ear out for when they are happening to put your korero in.

In a way, we have lost one MP, but we have survived with 3/4 of our caucus. Something no other minor political party has done after entering into a coalition arrangement with a major governing party. I believe that it is because our Maori processes have kept us safe - such as our process of wananga on major decisions, and our upholding of our Maori values above all others. That is why these hui are so critical, we need a steer, and we all need to get on the waka together to keep us moving forward.

The battle is over, but the war continues, I think we need to rally as Maori across the spectrum, and across Aotearoa to come up with a plan on how we move forward from here.

Nga mihi,

Na Kaapua


  1. My advice, go with the the confidence and achieved much, but there is more to do (Whanau Ora for example). Pita and Tariana were highly respected by the National cabinet members, and they were responsible Ministers of Government through a difficult period. They need to continue this, it is a once in a 100 years opportunity. And the dignity and grace they showed through the difficult periods gained them a respectability that they deserved.

    The Maori party is better off without Hone, and the other extreme left views that seek to define Maori with giving respect to the fact that nothing can be achieved unless there is a strong economy to underpin and pay for it.

    The lesson to be learned is one of education. Just as the Pasifika people are only just slowly awakening to options other than the left, so too are many Maori voters. Education and stronger links to get recognition of what Pita, Tariana, and Te Ururoa have gained for Maori through being in government is required. I know some here in Taranaki who hardly knew about the deal with the Foreshore bill, who had no clue about Whanau Ora...if they had been educated, say through Iwi, then they would ave looked upon the deal with National in a more favourable light, and maybe voted for the Maori party rather than Mana or Labour.

  2. Ae Kaapua"...politics is the modern form of warfare..." If this is so, then the Maori Party most certainly needs a new and strategic battle plan for 2014.

    The Party is badly in need of a makeover. If it is to captivate that young, group of voters - who are children of the techno-revolution; twitter, facebook, it needs to present itself as a party that is vibrant, strong, energetic and in touch with its people. It needs people who know their stuff, who can articulate the messages well, and people who look like they will last the distance.

    The voters are looking for a Leader - someone who can draw Maori together. The Maori Party has one opportunity to get it right. They need to smarten up and sharpen up their political game plan well before 2014.

    They need to employ Marketing and PR expertise to re-juvinate the " look and feel" of the Party.

    This battle is over. Victory in 2014 is about " winning the hearts and the minds of the people...". Their legs will follow.
    How the Maori Party intends doing this will be crucial to its political success.

  3. Great blog here Kaaps. Tautoko.

    I think going forward our members need to be fully educated on the impacts of all three options ahead of our decision making this week or next.

    Knowledge is power so I will be doing my best to educate (not influence) our members so they can make an informed decision that they know 100% will impact on outcomes now, 2014 and beyond.

    Maori Party......HARD!

  4. You have a hard go as the Right all over the world are the people who live to hate. That seems to be their modus operandi. We suffer the same fate in Canada. The government is spending great amount of money on new jails. Who will fill the jails, Indians of course. There is no money in the government but only money to jail people. You will no doubt suffer under a regime of hate from the Right. That is why you need to be united. We operate the same way over here, Indians divided.

  5. Go hard the Maori Party. There are still those of us who tautoko hard. I think it's important for the Maori Party to make the policies more clear for the grass roots to understand. When you fullas talk it makes a lot of sense compared to some politicians who just talk a load of shit, but how can you get the people to stop and actually listen? Perhaps there needs to be some informed younger blood representing the Maori Party as well, out there in the public eye, mucking in with the older wiser ones like Pita and Tariana ma. Uplifting the image, building momentum, so we peak in three years time. but of course this will only work if the policies behind the mahi are tika. and it does help to have nice looking people, who are clever, humble and know what they're doing. Build up the Maori Party, we don't have to put shite on other parties, we just need to focus on what we're doing,,,,,,,and DO IT!

  6. As a Maori who has had the privilege of travelling and living in some of the most amazing places in the world and for the past 8 years living in London I feel embarrassed when I read the online newspapers and social media sites regarding Maori and the in fighting and economic, social and moral issues facing Maori families in particular.
    Maori people top all the reports and lists for all the wrong reason, so we need to take a long hard look at this and ask ourselves why? Now it didn’t happen over night? Generations of incompetent leaders? No clear Vision? Lack of Role Models? Finger Pointing?, EDUCATION? We need change if things are going to get better no worse or the same old rubbish but “CHANGE”
    So what are the current problems? What is the cause of the problem? What are possible solutions? What is the best solution? The questions need to asked
    The answer to change will rely on young people and building a relationship with them to change a generation, Maori families still lack basic education, life skills, common since and a passion to achieve great things and actually make something of themselves.
    Correct me if I am wrong but what is the average age of those speakers at the hui? 45 plus? I can’t even think of a young person’s name who is a prolific speaker amongst Maori people?
    The Maori Parties Vision is mixed and confusing in my opionion
    Restoring the essence of who we are-putting the vibrant traditions of our people at the heart of our whanau? What’s the essence? Who are we? Vibrant tradiotions?
    We want to face our past with courage so we can build our future together? Move on form the Past we have been going on and on about the past for decades when will it be time to move on? Now 10 years later 100 years later? Who are we building our future with? All New Zealanders? Maoris?
    We want a government that values accountability and serving the people, we what a public service that understands the aspirations of whanau, hapu and iwi. Values accountability for what? What government in the development world does not serve its people? Aspirations of whanau, hapu and iwi what political party doesn’t what this for there country?
    I wish I could be more involved or maybe actually come back to NZ start pushing some buttons but until that happens I look forward to watching and reading the updates.
    Phillippe Dewes