Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, December 15th, 2012 - 75 comments
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In Hone’s time as the sole MP for for the party, Mana has established a clear identity. It as an identity strongly grounded in practice and activism. It particularly represents low income people, whether doing paid or unpaid work, employed or on social security. Mana is envisioned as a movement for all people in Aotearoa, while aiming to provide a strong independent voice for Maori. It represents those with least power, status or wealth, providing a voice for Pasifika people and campaigning for children, especially those living in poverty. Hone’s “Feed the Kids”, Breakfast and Lunch in Schools Bill will have its first reading in February 2013.
There have been questions and predictions about what will happen to the Maori Party when Tariana Turia resigns as leader, and when she leaves parliament altogether. There have also been some reflections on the legacy of Turia and her role in the party. Hone ‘s journey has been strongly intertwined with the Maori Party. Can Mana develop and establish a strong continuing parliamentary presence, or is it essentially another one-MP party?
On Thursday, Mana’s identity was strongly reflected in Hone’s Christmas adjournment speech, in which Hone Harawira said:
I am proud that MANA members have been on the front line in the battle to stop asset sales, to support the New Zealand Maori Council bid to protect Maori interests in water, to help keep our seas free of dangerous deep sea oil drilling programmes, to stand against the take-over of New Zealand sovereignty by multinational corporates, to stand alongside those fighting to keep their homes, to support worker’s demands for safe working conditions and a decent living wage, and of course to promote the notion that feeding kids in schools is not an issue of cost, but one of justice.
Mr Speaker – MANA is rightly seen as living on the hard edge of parliamentary politics, but people would be wrong to think that the protest vote is the only constituency that MANA speaks to, and I am proud to point to MANA’s election manifesto to show how much MANA is in tune with where the country wants to go.
When MANA proposed “20,000 new state houses over two years” to address the massive problem of homelessness in this country, kick-start apprenticeships and employment in the housing industry, and provide a boost to the country’s flagging economy by investing in people who spend their money here rather than on nebulous overseas stocks, our proposal met with bemused smiles from people who know better … so it was comforting to see Labour expand our “20,000 houses in 2 years” philosophy into their own “100,000 houses in 10 years”.
And many are those who scoffed at MANA’s Feed the Kids proposal last year, but a government funded food in schools programme for low decile schools is now not only widely supported within parliament (indeed, a week after I put my bill into the ballot, the leader of the Opposition put in a similar bill), it has also become one of the lead campaigns in the campaign to reduce poverty.
Hone has been on the front line, arrested while sitting in his car watching a protest against removal of state housing and its tenants from Glen Innes. A destructive government initiative that Mana described as ethnic and social cleansing. John Minto has also strongly represented Mana in public and on the streets. The Mana president Annette Sykes has continued to be a background presence, as seen in this statement she posted in November. That post is about Harawira being voted the top politician fighting for Maori rights by a Native Affairs poll.
I am still leaning towards party voting Green, but if they seem to become too centrist, I will be looking at Mana. I am a little wary as Mana doesn’t have a long track record on which to assess it. I am reminded that I was very hopeful about the Maori Party when it started, although a little wary of its social conservatism.
The Mana movement is doing some great stuff on the ground. Does it have a long future in parliament with increasing numbers of MPs?