Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, January 25th, 2013 - 23 comments
Categories: assets, class war, disaster, Environment, mana, Maori Issues, Maori seats, national/act government, treaty settlements, unemployment - Tags: annette sykes, Maori water rights
The future of the Maori Party, and its leader/s, seems in doubt. Yesterday, Eddie posted on The Standard, that the Maori Party is now in terminal decline. Also yesterday, Anthony Robins posted on The Standard, that, ”A merger with Mana seems to offer the most viable way forward”. Certainly Hone Harawira has been asked to rejoin the Maori Party, and has posted that he thinks a Mana-Maori Party merger is worth considering. Hone says,
“I think a MANA MAORI union is what Maori people want. I have made the offer in the past and I happily make that offer again in the best interests of the people”.
“I am going to Ratana this week and if the opportunity arises to further these discussions, I would welcome them”.
“The ball is in the Maori Party’s court …”
Eddie argued that Annette Sykes would win Te Ururoa Flavell’s Waiariki electorate if Flavell left the Maori Party.
The Party won’t insult someone of Sharples’ mana so much as to take the leadership off him if he still wants it. Flavell will probably choose to leave rather than waste his time, sparking a by-election that the Maori Party will lose to MANA’s Annette Sykes.
As the only Mana MP at the moment, Hone has been the main face of the party, with John Minto playing a strong supporting role. Annette Sykes is of Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāti Makino descent, two of the confederated tribes of Te Arawa waka. She is the president of the Mana Party, and so far has had a low profile. So, with the possibility of her becoming an MP, either for Mana or a Mana-Maori Party, it is worth looking at what she would bring to the mix.
On the final Citizen A for 2012, the panel talked about the future of the Maori Party and Phoebe Fletcher saw Annette Sykes as a player in 2013. I don’t know a lot about her, so I decided to check out her background. I did know she spoke strongly in favour of water rights for tangata whenua in relation to the looming asset sales, and that she is co-leader of the Mana Party.
Sykes delivered the 2010 Bruce Jesson lecture, in which she expressed her concern about the ways most Maori struggle to live in poor socio-economic circumstances:
In her Jesson lecture, Sykes is critical of the way some of the Maori elite, especially the Iwi Chairs/Leaders Forum, has been drawn into a neoliberal ethos and New Right processes. She says she’s found it difficult to find out who the the actual people who make up the Iwi Forum membership. A small number of named individuals perform and executive-like function. Sykes is concerned about the way the Iwi forum is self-referencing, and that the leaders seem disconnected from the people they claim to represent. Sykes is also concerned that, in recent times, there has been the rise of a Maori elite who participate in Waitangi Tribunal processes in a way that panders to “neo liberal agenda”.
However, Sykes also says that the amount of assets, wealth and land possessed by Maori, including that from Waitangi settlements, is no where near as much as many people think. She said she is disappointed with the Maori Party, and the way they have been drawn into collaborating with the National-Act government.
In this video of her speech at Waitangi in 2012, she talks about the stealthy and undemocratic tactics of John Key and his government.
She talked of the locals in her area being involved in the Rena clean-up. Meanwhile, Key et al were negotiating with foreign companies to do further oil drilling and fracking, setting up future potential environmental damage to the local area, where many people depend on the environment for subsistence.
Video: Annette Sykes: the woman and her politics: 2011 May
An activist lawyer, Sykes says she’s spent her adult career fighting for the lands of her whanau (confiscated in the 1860s), seeking solutions to injustices, is and for social justice. There was a further land confiscations by Helen Clark in 2004. She was then pleased at the advent of the Maori Party. However, later she felt betrayed again over land confiscations, this time by Te Ururoa Flavell. She says the Maori Party has lost its way, and she is unhappy with its current relationship with the National and Act parties. Sykes say she particularly wants to encourage communities and the politically disengaged to become more politically active, especially the young.
Given Sykes commitment to social justice, and her strong criticism of John Key’s government, I can’t see her joining with the Maori Party if a further alliance with National was on the table. She clearly supports land rights and the need to work for more social and economic equality and justice for Maori. She acted and spoken for hapu in relation to water rights and asset sales, while being highly critical of Key and his government. Sykes is clearly committed to left wing values, has a assertive and likable down-to-earth personality, and could possibly have a successful political career.