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

Friday, 25 November 2011

10 things I want to leave you with....

 I have been thinking hard about what my last message will be before I zip the blogging until after the election. I couldn't think of just one thing to say, so here you have a collection of all of the things I want to leave you with.

1. The Maori Party are seeking both your candidate vote and your Party vote this election.Two ticks can deliver us more representation in parliament.

2. The Maori Party was born out of aspirations, it was born out of thousands of Maori people. It is our Party - and we still have a lot of work to do in terms of protecting Maori interests in government processes.

3. We can work with anyone, and all the major parties have indicated they can work with us. We are not National's 'trojan horse' - we are an independent voice for Maori - prepared to work with whoever gets the job done for Maori. Dont buy into major parties scaremongering.

4. Maori Party social policies do have a natural alignment with other political parties such as the Greens, Labour, Mana - so why not back a Maori vehicle for taking that forward?

5. Maori are a minority in this country. Holding a balance of power at the end of an election is one of the most crucial moments for negotiating policies that advance our Maori aspirations. It is one of the rare times we get to flex our muscle and demand some changes for our Maori people. Back us so that we can back you.

6. When you vote you get two ticks. Give your candidate vote - to the candidate who will represent your interests best. Give your party vote to the party whose kaupapa you like best. Your party vote is a vote for the kaupapa.

7. You will also be given a purple referendum paper to fill out this year. Tick MMP and then just back away from the form. MMP is our current electoral system and has given us more diversity in parliament, more Maori in Parliament, and also worked towards making major political parties more accountable.

8. Are you torn between Mana and Maori? Well, your vote is your vote - kei a koe te tikanga. I personally believe in inclusive kaupapa, not kaupapa that divide - which is why I support the Maori Party. While I have a lot of personal respect for Hone Harawira and Annette Sykes - I dont like the politics I have seen. Deliberately misleading, deliberately inciting anger and division, and deliberately nasty.

9. Looking at the polls National could govern alone. Do you want this to happen? Or do you want to put your vote in a Party that is prepared to work with anyone to protect our interests and advance the social needs of our communities? The Maori Party can do it - but it is up to our constitutents to vote for us, and then attend a post-election hui to tell us what you want us to do.

10. Last one - what does it mean to be Maori? It means that you have whakapapa that binds you to this land. It means that we have tikanga, reo, and matauranga. We have a responsibility to protect our ways, our whenua, and our people. Beyond that shared goal we are diverse - so lets increase the diversity of the Maori Party by voting more Maori Party people in (by Party voting Maori Party).

That's it from me - as I cant blog until after the election. My last message is this:



REFERENDUM Vote MMP (and then resist the desire to tick anything else!)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The 'constructive one' on Child Poverty

Ok, after taking some time to cuddle my babies I am probably in a better space to be able to talk about solutions to child poverty.

The documentary that aired last night "Inside NZ: Inside Child Poverty" was shockingly sad. It was also cleverly shaped with a political agenda in mind.

I am glad that they highlighted the need for healthy homes for our babies. I think it uncovered a great shame of the State that we have not included housing and environmental factors in thinking about how to care for a whanau's overall wellbeing.

We need more state houses, we need our houses to be insulated, and in my view, we need to develop a minimum standard of health and fitness for all rental properties in Aotearoa. Ultimately, I also think that Housing needs to be moved into the Whanau Ora space - as housing does not only impact on health, but access to whanau support, key services, schools etc.

Another aspect of the issue of child poverty is of course income, and jobs. Don't you just wish you lived in Sweden? As I am sure you know, the Maori Party want $16 minimum wage, the first $25K income earned to be tax free, and GST off food. This is a good start, but it does not take away from the fact that we need jobs.

We need a plan to establish more jobs, and the Maori Party is proposing that we start wrapping our support around the Maori economy. More than just Iwi Business, the bulk of the $36Billion asset base is actually driven by small to medium sized businesses. We need to support Maori business, so that Maori business can support our communities by creating jobs.

While we need a Government focused on stimulating development opportunities, we also need a government that focuses on our basic human rights. I personally believe that a rights based framework is critical to informing Government spending and policy.

After watching the documentary there was a lot of korero about 'feeding the kids' and establishing a Ministry for Children. I am more inclined to think we need a Ministry of Families. I only say this because I believe that our current government agencies that focus on one member of the whanau, often make decisions in isolation that only take in short term gain, and also ignore other factors which go into informing the wellbeing of that individual - just look at CYF's as an example.

I also believe in 'balance' - and I think we need Government departments who can take in the whole picture and context, rather than tick their box while ignoring a number of other boxes that need to be addressed. This is the reason we have established Kaitoko Whanau and Oranga Whanau - so that there is someone dedicated to looking at the bigger picture about the needs of individuals within a whanau - in order to address their collective well-being.

Other factors of course come down to parenting, making good decisions for your children, education, and support. These are big issues, and need to be addressed with targeted support programmes, as well as through whanau and community role modeling.

Ultimately, what I took away from the doco last night, was that we need to think with our hearts (EQ) as well as with our brains (IQ). I think we need to work together on solutions, and my cudos goes to Rahui Katene (Maori Party) and Metiria Turei (Greens) for leading the Inquiry into the status of Maori and Pacific children. 

The frustrating thing about political processes is that it takes time for decisions to filter through the system into actual practice on the ground.

We as communities also have a role to play in this. We need to take responsibility to awhi where we can, to share, to tautoko. It's called manaakitanga. It is something that we should do without expecting a return, although I suspect the universe will return it to you in some way in the future. We are all in this together.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Child Poverty: He taonga te tamaiti

My baby
Tonight I intended to write something political, but I just canʻt go past the Inside NZ: Child Poverty documentary.

It was so sad to see little babies sick, and in hospital for preventable diseases. As a mother, it makes me think about my own boys and how I would feel if I had to see them go through that  - it would be heartbreaking.

I could write about what our Partyʻs policies on addressing child poverty, but to be honest I donʻt particularly feel like politicking right now. I just feel like being sad.
My big boy

Our babies deserve a better start to life than living in mouldy houses that make them sick.

I will say that political point scoring and finger pointing are not going down well with me tonight. If political parties had such wonderful policies, they were needed about 10 years ago. Itʻs not about votes, its about prioritising our babies.

We need to honour the rights of children.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Find Your Voice

What future will they see?

This coming Saturday is your chance to have a say about who governs the country. It's been an interesting election period because of the short one month timeframe which has meant that political parties have not had the same amount of time (as they have in previous years) to convince you of why to vote for them.

I just wanted to take the opportunity to let you know that your vote is important, not just for you, but for your communities. Please take the time to go to the polls and vote for a better future for Aotearoa and your whanau.

I also thought I would give you a quick summary of what I see as 'the lay of the land' for consideration when casting your vote.

First of all, this election has really irritated me because of the games played by the major political parties. Labour and National are both guilty of trying to submerge the voices and the issues of the minor parties. I feel the public have been short changed, because the two major parties have not been held to account by the minor parties for issues where they both agree. There has been no opportunity to show Aotearoa how similar these two parties actually are, and that is an outrage in the age of MMP.

Secondly, I think for Maori this election has been marred by our 'in-fighting'. The fact of it is, that the aspirations of both the Maori Party and the Mana Party are the same. Our values are the same as well. What is different is our approach to how we each believe we should journey to our destination.

I am hoha of this storm in a teacup approach. I support the Maori Party because I believe that our approach is the best in terms of delivering outcomes. In my view, the journey is just as important as the destination - and if you are dividing people, hurting people, and misleading people in the process - you do not have the best interests of the people at heart.

I am also very concerned that we as Maori are allowing these Western processes to define us. Tell me why we should mirror ourselves on the behavior of non-Maori politicians? Tell me which tikanga or kaupapa misleading the people fits into? Tell me how turning our own people against their each other serves our interests in the long term? And tell me why we should be 'loyal' to Labour? Why?

We need to remember that we are Maori. We need to preserve our ways, our tikanga, and our means of participating. By allowing an election to divide whanau, we are buying into another round of colonisation and that is not on.

My challenge to you is this - think about who can deliver the change that need to move forward on our journey. Think about the strategy - if National win the election (which looks likely), would you rather sit back and let them hurt our communities, or would you want an advocate/soldier to get in there and stop them? If Labour (by some miracle) win the election do you think they have the best interests of Maori at heart?

Think about what the most important thing is to  you in this election? Is it the environment? Or is it the whanau? Or is it money? - Now think about who represents those interests, as well as the interests of the greater Maori community.

Think about your values. Think about our tikanga, our whakapapa, our matauranga and our struggle. Who has the skills to unite us again? Who has the skills to deliver the outcomes while preserving the mana of our ways and our people.

These are the questions I hope that you will ask yourself this week when you vote. Your vote is not your only chance to have a say, but it is the start of establishing the framework within which your aspirations can be achieved. Find your voice, find your courage - and look to the hearts and minds of the people that you are going to vote in.

Choose the person and the Party not based on what you want, but on what is best for our future generations, and what will preserve the legacy that our tipuna left behind.

Partial sale of SOE's

Just a reminder that this is our actual Maori Party policy on sale of State Owned Assets:

"We do not support asset sales.  

If privatisation of state owned assets occurs it must be managed in a manner that is consistent with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  The Maori Party will support iwi who wish to invest into state owned assets as a means of retaining New Zealand ownership".

While we are on this kaupapa, we are also absolutely against the sale of our land and strategic assets to foreign owners.

We would advocate for the inclusion of a Treaty clause in to the Overseas Investment Act to ensure that tangata whenua have first right of refusal on any land or strategic assets up for sale.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

What's the plan whanau?

Whanau Christmas at Kimihia Marae, Kauangaroa

Martin Luther King is 'the man'. Every time I feel angry or deflated - I read his quotes to get my thinking back on track.  Tonight I've decided to start with one of my favorites....

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Martin Luther King

I  have found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with what is happening in the world. We had the riots in London a few months ago, we have the occupy wall street protests currently going on, and we seem to be seeing an endless number of protest marches and movements.

I think protest is necessary, but I find myself asking more and more "what is the plan here?"

Take for example Occupy Wall Street - I absolutely agree that we need a global system overhaul, we need to be looking at alternative models of development that move us away from being driven by money, to something which supports sustainable communities, something based on balancing our total wellbeing.

But what is the strategy? Who needs to make the change? How do they make the change? and how can we help them change?

What is the point of occupying without a plan for how you are going to change what you are unhappy with?

I raise this point only because I am becoming increasingly concerned with what is happening here in Aotearoa. We protest, we hikoi, we occupy - but how do you take an idea and turn it into reality? You need a vision, a solution, a plan and people to carry it off.

When we marched in the hikoi in 2004 - we had a shared goal, a plan, and the people who would get us there:

1) Set up our own political party - The Maori Party (tick!)
2) Get our party into the government to make the change that was needed (tick!)
3) Repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act (tick!)
4) Get our right to go back to Court back (tick!)
5) Keep our strong unified Maori voice in parliament (hmmmm?????)

Obviously the new Marine and Coastal Area Act is far from perfect - but the big part of the job is over, and now its time to dig in and continue to chip away and progress it. We have done this before in the form of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 which established the Waitangi Tribunal and the claims process, but it was not until 1985 that the Tribunal was granted powers to look at retrospective grievances. That's 10 years to get something almost right. It takes time to get what we want out of the government.

The point is, we have a vision as Maori (to lift our people up out of oppression, to be able to achieve rangatiratanga and equality), now we need a strategy or a plan.

There is so much discontent amongst our people - that I feel as if we are loosing our way. We are turning on each other because we have lost faith in ourselves. We are like lambs for the slaughter when we are in this state (divide and conquer etc etc) and we ALL need to take responsibility to start turning that around.

So I thought I would give you my view on what we need (collectively) to make a change and start turning things around:

First we need our agenda setters - we as Maori are excellent at doing this. We know how to highlighting the issues that need to be addressed for our people. In my mind this is where our protesters and activists come in.

Secondly, we need our strategy - we need our Maori researchers, philosophers and thinkers (community/academic/people who understand the frameworks) to draw us a map of where we want to go and how we are going to get there. We need solutions to our issues.

Thirdly, we need our soldiers - no matter who or where you are, you fit into this box. Politicians fit into this box too. No matter what the big picture is, every person can play a small part in moving us closer to our goals. It might be mama starting in our home with our babies; or it might be Hemi in the health centre; or Kara in the supermarket; Toni in the public sector; or Rahui in is everyone playing their little bit  just getting on with the business of picking yourself up, your whanau and your community around you.

Fourth, we need allies - remember we are only a minority group in Aotearoa, to make a change we need support from elsewhere, and in a range of different ways.

Fifth, we need our leaders - to remind us of our goal, to keep us on track, and show us the plan and how we all fit into it. They give us our vision, they tell us what needs to be done, and how to go away and do it.

Finally, we need hope, we need courage and we need faith.
'Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.' Martin Luther King
We also need to trust our leaders, and trust ourselves. We need to commit to a pathway and stick to it.

In terms of the Maori Party I think we all need to remember where this kaupapa came from. It came from me, it came from you, it came from all of us as Maori. If you think three years in government can suddenly take away a lifetime of loyalty to Maori - you are wrong.

To represent Maori is difficult because our people are diverse. We are not one homogeneous group, but if we continue to change the game plan because we have lost faith in the course, then we start to move our development backwards.

What I can tell you, is that Maori people who have grown up in Maori communities are the best people to take our kaupapa forward in parliament.  They understand where we are coming from and what our 'realities' are, but also they are accountable back to their whanau, their communities and our people.

We also need people who are solutions focused, and who have a strategy for how they are going to get us to the finish line.

The way to increase representation in parliament for our diverse realities - is to vote in a diverse range of Maori people. I think the Maori Party have that in spades over other parties and their lists. We also have solutions. At least you know, behind our figureheads, that all of us on the list have come from Maori communities. I would encourage you all to have a look at the Party lists for the parties you are thinking about voting for next Saturday to see if they have the same commitment to Maori representation and issues.

Maori Party List
Green Party List
NZ First Party List
Mana Party List
Labour Party List
National Party List

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Kia u ki te mataara!...

Who you lookin at?

I have just returned home from the Native Affairs Hauraki-Waikato debate. It was a fantastic debate, with excellent quality candidates and korero. I think this electorate should be proud of their quality crop this year, but what I was most impressed with was the hau-kainga, and the way they were able to manaaki, and acknowledge all people no matter which 'section' of the stands they were sitting in - it was whanaungatanga in practice - and it made a noticeable difference compared to my last experience at the Tai Tonga debate.

One of the issues that came up from both the Labour and the Mana candidate - was that Maori need to vote strategically to keep National out - and both made statements that the Maori Party would be 'used' to get National back into power.

This is false, and I just want to address that here.

The most recent Colmar Brunton polls (plus most others) show that National could easily govern alone with a party vote of 54%, Labour is way behind on 28%. Even if all Maori miraculously united in giving their party vote to Labour - we would only be able to make a 7% difference - that's right 7 plus 28 = 35% - meaning Labour is still on the out, and you have National governing alone. (raw data)

Of course there are variable unknowns such as NZ First, Act, Conservatives - who are all on the right of the spectrum. (All of which have anti-Maori tones in them, yes even Winston).

My point here is that it is not strategic to keep giving our Party votes to Labour - because it is a wasted vote. The truth of it is, it is non-Maori who decide the fate of major parties - Maori voters make very little difference unless it is a close election - which this year it is not.

So what does that mean? It means National will more than likely govern, and if we are not strategic they will govern alone. (SCARY!)

The assumption by many is that the Maori Party would work with the National Party - but the truth of it is, our fate lies in the hands of the voters, and in the hands of those who attend the post-election consultation hui. If they tell us to stay away from National then we will.

On the other side of this equation is what is happening with the National Party. I am suspicious as to why they would all of a sudden put out a Maori Affairs policy (which slipped under the radar) after years of ignoring, and even campaigning against Maori rights.

On one hand you can see the impact that the Maori Party has had in terms of raising awareness and support for Maori issues, on the other hand, you can see a move towards taking it upon themselves to speak for Maori - which is dangerous if you think of their history with Maori issues. Also, their depth of engagement in our struggle, our kaupapa, tikanga and matauranga is lacking.

I think we as a Maori community need to tread carefully here. My instinct (which is usally very good) is telling me they are preparing to govern alone, or with Act.

Im not sure how you feel, but the idea of a National only government is scary. The progress we have made as a Party is also under threat.  As a community of Maori we need to ask ourselves these patai:

  • Whanau Ora - do you really want to loose this?
  • Constitutional review - who will advocate for the Maori/Treaty view if it is only National?
  • The Maori seats - will they stay or go? 
  • Maori representation on local government councils - will it happen? 
  • Targeted Maori housing insulation, health programmes, education funding, economic development projects, social service projects - will they stay or will they be thrown out?
  • Who will defend our rights as Maori in cabinet?

We have so much to loose by letting them govern alone.

You might think that your candidate vote will be enough for the Maori Party - but four people cannot stop a hell of a lot to be honest. You need a strong and solid voice at the table of power to stop National from steam rolling over our rights. We also need a variety of voices to represent our diverse Maori views.

Our vote share as Maori is 7% maximum - it wont make a lot of difference to Labour in this election, but it can make a difference for our communities. I'm sick of Labour always scaremongering our people into voting for them, and for what? Their track record on Maori issues is just as bad as Nationals.

So I still advocate for our Party votes to be given to minor parties - because 7% makes a huge difference to us, and the lay of the land. This is strategic voting - not continuing down the same path that colonised us in the first place.

If Labour get up to a close margin that's great too - we have more bargaining power and will wield more influence. Bearing in mind what I said in my last post about the Maori Party committing to consult before making any decisions as per the 2008 election. (Check this link for info about those hui. And no - it's not a mistake - that really was the spokesperson).

So remember your party vote is a vote for the kaupapa that you believe in. Use it wisely, and use it to advance your interests, not the interests of the major parties.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Two for the candidate, one for the kaupapa

I am just about to get on the road to head back to Hamilton to visit my mum, but I thought I would quickly blog about strategic voting, after the stunning results that came from Te Karere's Digipoll results yesterday for the Waiariki electorate.

Needless to say, Te Ururoa is a long way in advance in the candidate vote (56%), ahead of the other competitors from Mana and Labour coming in at 22% support for each. What really amazed me was the Party vote poll which showed that 40% would give their Party vote to the Maori Party.

That is fantastic news!

Obviously the poll does not give us an insight into why people are looking at giving their two ticks to the Maori Party - but let me posit some hypotheses:

1) The Maori Party list has a number of Waiariki representatives on it from across the rohe - perhaps this list strategy is working?
2) The volatility in the split between Mana and Maori Parties may have resulted in supporters entrenching their support even further behind their preferred party?
3) Te Ururoa has done the hard yards in the electorate, advocating for the people of the region - he is kanohi kitea, and that has perhaps given confidence to the people in the Waiariki electorate that the Maori Party will be the vehicle to take them forward.

It is fun guessing, but at this stage, that is all it is - until we see the results on election night.

The most important thing I think we can draw from the results is that even in a time of uncertainty around the Maori vote - the Maori Party's support in this region is not only steady, but is lifting - or one could say, becoming further entrenched.

Te Ururoa also put out a press release  yesterday praising Waiariki for the poll results and the increase in support for the Maori Party. So, I just wanted to touch a bit on this - I have written previously about our Maori Party voters tending to split their vote 'one for their candidate of choice, the other for their preferred 'government'.

The Maori Party is now pursuing a two tick campaign - one for the candidate, and one for the kaupapa. The reason why we are pursuing this strategy is simple - the more MP's you have, the more bargaining power you have post election, and - if it comes to it - influence in the decision making of government.

If we continue to split our votes, or indeed pursue candidate only - then we will always (as Maori) be limited to seven MP's, this is not a big voice in a parliament of 120. If we are serious about exercising influence and leverage over government decision making - we need to work toward reducing the party vote share of the major parties, and increase the party vote share of minor parties. Of course, as a Maori Party list candidate, my minor party of choice is the Maori Party. (Why? Because we need a government that is serious about addressing Maori issues, and until we have strong and solid representation - the big parties will continue on their usual tokenistic pathway).

I think I understand why voters tend to give their party vote to the major parties - trust. Can we trust the minor party to make the decision that is best for us? The answer is, that it depends on the Party. In the case of the Maori Party, we went out and consulted with the people before we made a deal with any party in 2008, and we will do it again after this election.

Some parties have already declared where they lie before the election - which is a different strategy again. The point is, that until the election results are in, there are so many variables that could affect the make up of parliament, and potential relationship talks -  our view it is that we want to know the whole context and lay of the land before making a decision. For example - last election, National and Act could lead on their own - the question to our communities was whether we should get in there or not. There was no possibility of Labour governing, and so the decision was quite simple. It could all change at this election depending on how the votes fall, we could hold the balance of power? or we could be faced with a situation similar to 2008.

The Maori Party believe it is an absolute must that we go back to the people before making a decision. We did it last time, but I also think we have learnt and grown as a party over the last three years. I think one of  the big lesson the Maori Party has learnt this term is that 'we must take the people with us on the journey'. It's about getting gains 'with' Maori, rather than getting gains 'for' Maori.

So on that note I will wrap it up, with a final comment from me - my view is that the strategic thing to do would be to give our votes to the minor parties, rather than the major parties. I don't like telling people how to vote, but would like to say that I hope your party of choice would be the Maori Party (as you could have me :-)), but also because we need our government to get serious about Maori issues.

I know that we have been attacked for all sorts of issues this last election, but the truth of it is - we have had over 100 years Labour and National (in their various forms) making bad call after bad call for Maori. Three years is not going to fix up  what has been a long time issue - we need faith, we need courage, and we need strong Maori representation in parliament, and we need to invest into a long term strategy for Maori representation in parliament.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

National is from Mars, Labour is from Venus, Maori Party is from....

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. 

Nga mihi,
Na Kaapua

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Politics of Distraction

I have now been on the campaign trail for the Maori Party for about a week. I have spoken on a wide range of issues, to an even wider range of people. Many of the events that I have spoken at have had very few, or in some instances no Maori present.

I have always been a confident girl, but even if I say so myself - it takes guts to present a kaupapa Maori korero, to a non-Maori (and sometimes hostile) audience. It is a very lonely and daunting experience.

I have no problem presenting to Maori, in fact I think my korero improves when I have a 'friendly Maori face in the audience' because at least I know that one person is going to 'get' what I am saying. Most of the time, you can also guarantee that a Maori in the audience will support you no matter what, because we 'get it' - we know what its like to be a minority group, to have a different perspective on life, and to have our kaupapa korero misunderstood because the majority can easily dismiss us, ignore us, or submerge us.

So it is on that note, that I want to discuss how it feels now that we as 'Maori' are divided within ourselves.

We have never been a homogeneous group, and our history tells us, that 'kotahitanga' has always eluded us. The hikoi brought us an unprecedented moment of unity - on which we formed the Maori Party, which as we know, later split to become the "Mana" and the "Maori" Parties. It has been quite an interesting dynamic to walk into a room, and not know whether the Maori boy over there has your back or is going to stick the boot it. It is actually horrible beyond belief.

If you read my speech to the Maori Party AGM, you will know that I went to Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa Maori, and was brought up by parents committed to 'kaupapa maori'. I was taught through all these experiences, that we must think for more than ourselves, and beyond this time - we must think about 'social transformation' of our people, for honoring our tipuna, for the future of our kids, and for the shared aspiration of 'tino rangatiranga' and 'equality' within our own land. Being "on the kaupapa" - as it has since been termed.

The political division within Maoridom has forced me to question whether collectively we are still 'on the kaupapa'. It has also forced me to ask some hard questions of myself - am I on the kaupapa? am I a 'kupapa'? am I on the 'wrong waka'? am I an instrument of oppression? I ask these of myself, because this is what some of my own are calling the Maori Party, and by association - me.

The answer in my head is no. I am not any of these things.

So are my mentors within the Maori Party guilty of the above? In my view - no, they are not. In fact I could tell you stories of great courage for every single MP in the Maori Party - things that happen behind closed doors, things that happen in parliament when there are no camera's watching. Things like taking it in the neck from Labour and National - whose political games include mockery, direct attack, undermining, distraction, greasing, filibustering and a number of other things.

I could tell you stories of absolute sacrifice. Of moments when all of us are like the walking dead from lack of sleep, of days where you are in at 4am and home at 1am - you work hard, and you do it to get better outcomes for the people that you represent. It is hard work, and I tell you what, no salary can compensate for the long hours, the weight of expectation, the time away from your whanau, the 'crap' you take from people, the racism you get exposed to because you are the Maari Party. You do it, because you have a sense of higher purpose. You do it, because you are on the kaupapa.

The truth is - parliament is a volatile place, and the politics are vicious. And if you don't have your people behind you, you have nothing. Your power to negotiate and make change is derived from the strength of the numbers of people behind you.

So when people turn around and tell you that you have sold out, that you have become too 'cosy' with a Party that you have had to work with for the last three years (as the poor 'take you or leave you' brother) , that you haven't done enough for our people, that you are 'kupapa'- yes it becomes personal.

But I choose not to go there, because my personal view is that we need to get our act together as a collective, and start working together towards achieving the best outcomes for Maori. It doesn't mean an amalgamation of our two parties, but it does mean leaving the name calling, personal politics and attacks behind. Because while we are distracted by ourselves, the big parties, who are the real machines behind the sad state of our Maori nation, are laughing all the way to the bank.

I also want to say that I do not approve of misleading our people just to get a vote, or playing tit for tat. I do not approve in people disrespecting our pakeke, our kaumatua, or anyone else for that matter simply because they do not agree with you. And finally, I do not agree with those who stoke the fire deliberately to see us divided amongst ourselves.

This is the politics of distraction. It is this, that we must all rise above if we are truly to have a strong voice in parliament, and if we are truly to deliver change for the greater aspirations of our people. I miss my comrades, so lets get it together.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Oh no...please not National!

In MMP, you get to have two ticks when you vote, one for the candidate or person that you want to represent your electorate, and the second for the Party that you would like to see in parliament. Since the Maori Party was established in 2005, the majority of our voters had split their votes between us (Maori Party - electorate candidates) and the Labour Party (Party vote).

I understand why many of our people did this, a vote for their preferred person, and a vote for their preferred government.

So it is with interest that I read this article in today's NZ Herald on Maori support for the National Party increasing - and to be honest, I am a bit concerned. It was not that long ago (like last election, and the two before that) that National campaigned on an anti-Maori platform, wanting to get rid of the Maori seats, and what they termed 'preferential treatment for Maori'.

Have they changed? In my opinion - no, they have not.

You might then ask, why National did not deliver any of it's anti-Maori promises?  Well, the answer is simple - because the Maori Party asked them not to. In the relationship agreement between the Maori Party and National it stipulated that over this last term of parliament, the Maori seats were not to be removed. The Maori Party have also spent the last three years, educating the National-led Government on the needs of Maori, and also about how 'non-threatening' we are as a people.

Strange, but true.

The Maori Party has always been different to both Labour and National. Over the last three years, they have worked from inside the Government to get things done, to defend our rights, to stop things that encroach on our rights, and to produce positive outcomes for our people. They have also been doing what we as Maori always do  - and that is 'educate' the uneducated on Maori issues.

That has been the real contribution that the Maori Party has made in this last term of Parliament.

So, obviously, I get really annoyed when people paint us as "being in bed with National" or "chumy chumy" - because the reality of the situation is very different. Our agreement stipulates that we had to vote for the Budget, but on most other Bills we had our independence.

I also think that people don't realise that not all decisions are made through 'votes in parliament'. Many decisions are made in Cabinet. This is a different dynamic again, its not a 'put it to a vote' type of situation, and there is of course a hierarchy, of which the minor Party's are at the bottom. (So I am of the view that the strategic thing to do, is to increase your number of minority representatives in order to increase their bargaining power in this forum.)

Our Co-Leader/Ministers were able to particpiate in these discussions - but the cost of that is 'towing the line' on some issues. This is HARD, get more out of the process at the end of it. Of course our people have not sold their souls, but they are keeping the big picture in mind - bide your time, until the right opportunity arises to make your move.

So it disappoints me that the polls are looking like National will have a huge majority over everyone else. Because, if it comes to it, they will rule on their own, and they will rule with a puritanical and unbridled power - or in other words - no one will stop them (like we did) from doing what they want.

Same goes for Labour in my view (at least National stab you in the front, Labour are well known for pulling the rug out from under you - e.g. foreshore and seabed, cutting Maori funding Manaaki Tauira, and a number of other 'targetted' Maori programmes).

So if you can whanau, think about where you place your Party vote this year - the Maori population is so small, if we keep voting for the majority parties - our rights will always be vulnerable.


P.S. Just a reminder (if you made it this far down) that I am number 2 on the Maori Party list :-)

Friday, 4 November 2011

Housing: No whanau should be left to the mercy of Governments

Last night I participated in a political panel on the Auckland Housing Crises organised by Housing Call to Action in Freemans Bay, Auckland.

The hui organisers highlighted some significant housing issues that need urgent attention, including housing affordability, over crowding, substandard housing, and homelessness. The discussion centred not only on State housing, but also private rentals - identifying a number of issues in these areas.

I heard unhappy grumblings from some in the audience when talking to the following Maori Party policy:

The Maori Party will devolve state housing to Māori and Pasifika community groups for whānau to purchase their own homes, including a rent-to-own scheme.

Not long after this particular announcement, two Maori people (the only two Maori, apart from my support crew who came with me) from Glen Innes walked into the room and told everyone about what is happening in their community in relation to the Tamaki Transformation Project (TTP). 

56% of houses in G.I. are state homes, and Housing New Zealand are currently in the process of relocating over 150 families in order to start the project which would see the a number of sections subdivided for the creation of new state houses. Some houses will remain as state houses, some will be sold off to community organisations to administer, and some houses will be sold in to private ownership.

One of the Maori people from G.I. stood up and talked about how people felt about being moved out of their state homes, which in a word, is traumatised. Many people had lived in their homes for over 40 years, some whanau were multi-generational tenants, and some were deeply entrenched in their community, and were being asked to relocate elsewhere. Needless to say, there was a lot of mamae, and stress in his community.

No politician had an answer for how to help. In fact, I did wonder whether any of them knew anything about the TTP project at all. Even I didn't have a solution to support his community in the immediate future. What I did do however, was respond to the kaupapa he put on the table.

I told him that despite the facilitator not wanting his issue to be discussed, and despite no panelists having an answer - that I wanted to address the kaupapa laid down. (Why? Because he was Maori, and deserved to be heard; and because I am Maori, and it is my job to hear him, and take that kaupapa up)

I told him that I had been to a hui held in G.I. at Ruapotaka marae, and that I heard first hand the trauma, the stress and the mamae within the community from having people moved out of their homes. I got it - its about connection, security, and 'home'.

I told him that the Maori Party wanted to make sure this did not happen again to our communities in the future by ensuring that no whanau was left vulnerable to the mercy of Governments.

The unfortunate truth is that if the government giveth, the government can easily taketh away.

That is why the Maori Party want to put State houses into the hands of community organisations who focus on Maori, Pacific and Low Incomes to help them by:

a) administering housing stock (because we believe that community organisations know how to look after those people within their communities)

b) supporting whanau to put their rent towards ownership of their homes (so that no whanau can ever have their house taken off them by a government with a 'new direction' or 'new plan' for development)

c) Ensuring we have whanau ora models in place (so that communities are resilient, looking after one another, and taking reciprocal responsibility to address the issues facing them in their own communities)

We believe that this is what our people should be aiming for: freedom from vulnerability; or in other words RANGATIRATANGA.

It's not about being rich, its about having your right to decent housing met, while also ensuring that you have security, and freedom to make your own decisions (regardless of who is in Government).

And until we are able to 'whanau ora-ise' the State (which is our long-term goal), we must provide alternative options to help look after our people in the immediate future. That's what the Maori Party is about.


My Bad, I was under the impression we were still under MMP

The best thing about our current MMP system is choice and increased representation for minority groups. New Zealand adopted this system in 1996, and as a result we have seen more diversity enter parliament, not only in terms of parties, but also women, Maori, and ethnic minorities. The Maori Party support MMP, and would encourage everyone to vote to keep it in place at the upcoming referendum.

I have been very disappointed with the way the leaders of the two major political parties (Labour and National) have separated themselves out from debating with minor party leaders in this election period. In my mind, it is tantamount to trying to play First Past the Post politics, in an MMP environment.

People are wondering why this is the most boring election ever - it's because the two big parties, (who btw are both represented by middle aged white men) are taking up all the air time. 

The minor parties, when they do get on air, is where the colour is at!! And it is unfortunate that our minor party leaders are not given the time to publicly address the leaders of the other big parties. It would have provided an opportunity to publicly put the two big parties on the spot over matters of concerns to the minor parties (who know what those big parties are hiding), unfortunately you are not going to get that in this election.

I wish you well with your Goff-Key watching - fun times...........

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Deep Sea Oil Drilling - No means No means No

Kia Ora,

Thought I better just mention this here, because I know I haven't yet. My view is as follows:

NO means NO means NO means NO means No means No

Let our ones who live at home, who know the land, who have over 200 years of knowledge of that land/sea/environment make those decisions. They know best.

We want tangata whenua have to the right to VETO all mining decisions. That means they get the last say as to what happens in their rohe. It's not just about Iwi, its about marae, hapu, - ahi kaa.


P.S. Ngati HARD

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Welfare Reform: What I learned as a single mum!

I was interested to see the release of  National's welfare reform policies today, particularly those relating to benefits for single parents. I was a single-mum for a few years before I met my tane, and so was on and off the benefit (DPB) during the times when I was not working.

My experience is, that part-time work is hard to find, and a lot of part-time jobs are at hours that do not match those of Early Childhood Education (ECE) Centres. So it is hard to get a start.

Also, childcare was extremely expensive, and it still is.

When I did have work, it was part-time contract work, which meant I was constantly on and off the benefit (which is a task in itself having to constantly go through the rigmerol of reapplying) . I used to hate going to meet with my case manager at WINZ, because I felt 'diminished' in someway - I'm not sure if it was just me, or if it was the process, but I felt (at the time) whakamaa, and like I had lost  a bit of my dignity (I do think its the process and how they treat you - like nothing about you matters other than the fact that you 'have to get off the benefit'). I can imagine how, after long periods of time, this could eat away at your sense of self-worth and self-belief.

What really made a difference for me, was having the support of my whanau and friends - no matter which way you look at it, being a solo mum is being a solo mum - its hard, and sometimes you need a hand.

I was lucky enough to have supportive parents, and a wide network of cousins and friends who helped me with babysitting, after kohanga pick ups, and even kai if we needed it. They gave me time out when I looked stressed, and they taught me how to look after a baby (which surprising tho this maybe, does not come naturally when you give birth!). That sort of support is something that money cant buy, but it is something that made all the difference. It allowed me to work, and allowed me to study.

I spent such a long time as a single mother, and I had many friends in the same boat! We used to call ourselves the SMC - single mothers club. (I could, and have thought about, writting a book, but I'll save that for today ;-P)

Issues that face single parents hit a tender nerve with me - I was lucky I had the support around that I did. And even with that support, I still needed the welfare system to support our whanau too.

So I couldn't resist but put my 5c in when it came time to developing the Maori Party policy, and I am really pleased with what has come out in their policies around this particular kaupapa:

- Re-establishing the Training Incentive Allowance (which was around when I was on the DPB - but I wasn't eligible as a post-grad student - I wish I was!)
- Support Teen Parent Units (I was at Uni when I got hapu, but I went to visit some teen parent units in the past - and I think they are awesome for our young parents, and our babies)
- Encourage employers to set up more part time job options
- Encourage employers to subsidise childcare (When I moved off the DPB it was the childcare costs that hit me most in the pocket, when I was no longer eligible for childcare subsidies)

On top of that, we have whanau ora. And like I said above, if it wasn't for the huge support network that I had (which included friends, parents, and cousins) I would never have been able to do the things I have done. That to me is whanau ora. Obviously its also about reciprocity, and about giving back to my whanau and friends as well.

Anyway, I know the welfare reform announcements are bigger than just benefits for single parents  - but I suppose the points I am trying to make are:

1) We need a welfare system that sees people, not burdens - and one that recognises that people have different skills, strengths and needs. 

2) If we are serious about getting people into work, then we need to create an environment where you can manage whanau and work together - that means putting into place the neccessary support for people in the workforce e.g. childcare, part time or flexi time jobs (specifically within the times that ECE's are open), 

3) We need to acknowledge the role that our whanau and support networks play in raising kids 

It is my hope that policies such as this will make a difference to other mums in the future.


Maori Development and the Rourou Economy

One of the key election issues this year is our economy. In particular, how to do we protect our people (especially our most vulnerable) when times are tough.

The Maori Party are not renowned for our economic policies; but I think this is partly because our economic policies are not well understood. Our policies are not just about dollars and cents - our "economic development" policies are mostly about the latter part of that title - development.

As mentioned in a previous blog, I am particularly excited by the concept of the "rourou economy" (G.H.Smith). A rourou is translated as a foodbasket, and the name of the policy is derived from the whakatauki:

Ma tou rourou, ma taku rourou, ka ora ai te iwi
With your food basket and mine, the Iwi will be sustained

The message in this proverb is primarily about 'sharing' for collective sustainability. The Maori Party policy is made up of a number of policies that focus on collective rights and resilience, the most well known being "Whanau Ora". 

The rourou/foodbasket title of our policy also emphasises our focus on food as a key driver of sustainability and development. 

As we all know petrol and power costs are high, and yet are a critical part of our every day lives as private citizens, as businesses, and as consumers. Many of us also know that prices are often driven by supply and demand - and in a simplified equation - our supply of fuels is shrinking, while our demand is increasing - ala the increase in costs in petrol and power.

Many governments around the world, have already turned their attention to the need to find sustainable energy sources as a means to combat our global reliance on fuels. (And just a note here - the Maori Party also support the direction towards using renewable and sustainable energy sources). In New Zealand 3/4 of our power supply currently comes from renewable energy sources - which is a great thing, nonetheless the majority of us still use petrol everyday - and until we are at 100% we have more to do. The point is that we are well on the way to addressing this particular issue.

Which brings me to my point about food security. Food - is potentially the next important driver of our wellbeing and (economic) development that we must ensure is secure. That means we need to ensure that everyone has access to kai, and sustainable sources of kai. With our global population recently reaching 7 billion, and the event of climate changes - we may see the demand for food, again, outstripping supply. That is why the Maori Party have picked up on this particular concept - food security - as an integral part of our development (both social and economic).

So the rourou economy is about acknowledging that food will be a key driver in our development, and ensuring that we have the resources to cater for ourselves, but also that we are prepared to participate in a food economy in the future. This could happen in many different ways, whanau to whanau; hapu to hapu; iwi to iwi; nation to nation.

The beauty of this approach is not just about food security either, it is also about sharing knowledge, and building sustainable business and relationships locally and globally. This particular policy is positioned within our ahi kaa poilcy which is about building up key infrastructure (roadings, internet, etc) that increases whanau (particularly rural) access to key resources, which they can use to develop their communities.

Today maara kai, tomorrow - infinity and beyond!


Externalising a really complicated situation on my blog

Kia Ora,

Today was a very interesting day. I would count it as my first stepping in to the political ring (only because its a Monday, and everyone seems to be back at work). Just like the recently released  "don't drink and drive" advertisement  "I have been internalising a really complicated situation in my head". The 'complicated situation' being how I now manage my personal and increasingly public and political persona's. 

I have just returned home from the Native Affairs: Te Tai Tonga political debate, which was an excellent event. (Obviously my support is 100% behind Rahui who did an amazing job tonight.)

The first thing that struck me was the physical separation they put between each party support group. Every political party had a section that they had to sit in - some of my friends were sitting in sections across from me because they supported other parties - and also some of my whanaunga.

I found that to be awkward......My natural state would have seen me gravitate to my friends and whanau, instead I was catagorised by political affiliation. Hmmmm - I'm not sure this sits well with my 'whanaungatanga'-o-meter.

My internal dialogue was around whether I should just "suck it up" and accept that this would be my reality from now on OR whether it was a process of neo-colonisation that we could address somehow? I understand the naivety of the 'why cant we all just get along' scenario - but my ponderings are more around why we allow politics to divide us? Also, I further pondered about why we split our already marginalised voice across so many political parties that we become even smaller minorities in each of them? I cant see how we as a collective people benefit from this?

My natural (and first choice) of affiliation will also be by whakapapa/whanaungatanga/relationships. And as far as I am concerned this will always come first for me. So, awkward moment passed (thank god) and a last 'note to self' before bed - 'must remember to challenge this next time it happens.'

Po marie