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Annette Sykes: a future MP?

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: ,

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:

  • a Maori unemployment rate double that for non-Maori;
  • 25% of Maori receiving a benefit; more likely to live in overcrowded households;
  • lower achievements in the education system;
  • 10% lower life-expectancy than non-Maori;
  • a higher rate of obesity;
  • and a higher suicide rate, especially for young Maori.

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.

 

23 comments on “Annette Sykes: a future MP? ”

  1. Good overview Karol of a wonderful mana wahine. Kia kaha.

    I think it is also very important to reiterate that Mana is not Hone, although Hone does have the mana:)

    • The Urban Maori 1.1

      Annette Sykes is another one cast from the same mold as Hone Harawira.
      She shares his brutal honesty and habit of saying things which will make her life difficult in politics but if you ever get the chance to hear her in a sit down interview, Annette, like Hone, manages to come across as the articulate and intelligent person that she is.
      Nice work Carol.

  2. Treetop 2

    Mana has a clear mandate and this gives traction. I think that the Maori Party is history; this is seen in the poll ratings, Hone will do better without the Maori Party.

    What has the Maori Party done for low income earners, those requiring housing, those with poor health and the unemployed?

  3. bad12 3

    My view is that Annette Sykes has the numbers to roll Flavell in Waiariki and Flavell knows it hence His highly visible tilt at ripping the leadership off of Sharples at the Ratana Movement’s annual Hui,

    Flavell has seen the Party membership numbers and knows His only chance of survival past November 2014 is via a high profile as Leader,(having dispensed with the chickens entrails i am now reading in the tea-leaves that should Flavell become Leader of the Maori Party He would also demand the Maori Affairs portfolio off of Sharples who would of course flatly refuse to hand over His higher position at the trough),

    Given that, Flavell would attempt to can the coalition agreement with National in an attempt to position the Maori Party to the left, in what would be the Party’s death throes as Sharples aint going no place soon and would either occupy His seat as an independent until given the kick in 2014 or out-right join the National Party in a waka jump,

    Would you believe that this fight while one of apparent political survival is simply at it’s flax roots one of who gets the biggest slice of the pie at the trough,

    Annette will do well as an MP she has the depth of intelligence to be able to articulate Her message across a broad spectrum from the ‘Homies of Her home town to the ‘Honourables’ of a ‘higher’ society,

    She has her job cut out tho attempting to re-energize the youthful political vigor that flowered among young Maori at the birth of the Maori Party, such a cohort of proud young Maori willing to face at times the out-right abuse of a wider community campaigning on behalf of the Maori Party,(after all the stereotype of young Maori being that to receive a visit at night from such usually being the precursor to a home invasion), having had their political awareness severely burned by the Maori Party coalition with National many are now unwilling to put their trust in another political organization…

  4. PlanetOrphan 4

    I really like Annettes’ perspective, her eyes are indeed open, She’d add horsepower to any party.
    And I agree with Hone, the Maori party deserves support.
    If only the Maori party would realise the National party does not deserve it.
    Their stance on the matter means a lot.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    Annette has talent in spades and is a very likeable person with wide family and diverse interests e.g. aussie diva Renee Geyer, who she has helped raise ticket sales for her NZ shows.

    More seriously she is well aware of the rapprochement and plain old co-operation needed between Māori nationalists and more traditional marxist and social democratic activists. This illustrates a class analysis which is not a common quality in NZ parliamentary politicians or Māori activists.

    The media and not a few here are confused by people like Annette that can straddle categorization and basically call for “unite all who can be united” around say offshore drilling or feeding school kids.

    “Māori elite” and “Neo Tribalists” as described by professor Elizabeth Rata are the reason the Māori party is in its final period. Identity politics has an inbuilt basic flaw including the obvious problems of a post colonial society in a captialist cyclical downturn/crisis. Flavell can squiggle this way or that but cannot overcome the contradiction of sitting with tory bastards who are shafting Māori in thousands as they go through the parliamentary rituals. Hope Annette gets her can of whip ass out and defeats Flavell particularly after the toadie Flavell’s awful remarks about suicides not deserving a full Tangi.

  6. Fortran 6

    She will make a good MP, but whoever is in Government will rue the day she gets elected.
    She is powerful, strong and has good Maori backing.
    She is capable of putting Hone into a cocked hat – she has brains – he does not – he shoots from his mouth without thinking.
    Her replies are from a well educated, political, and social background.

  7. Skinny 7

    I doubt Hone bothered to discuss this with the party  he is a megalomaniac after all. So much for Mana not being a race based political party. The Maori party is made up of half Tories that would likely vote National also. Where does this leave the lefties like Minto & Bradford???

    At least a true Left party may form if there is a reunion and Hone can stop pretending he is a Union man. 

  8. Saarbo 8

    Annette is tough, clever and knowledgeable. She will have to convert herself into a politician but she is smart and experienced enough to do this. Annette and Hone would make a pretty mean team!!! She would represent vulnerable Maori very powerfully…she would be good for New Zealand politics.

  9. karol 9

    It’s good to see the kind of support some have given Sykes here.

    I see Shearer is saying Labour is after all of the Maori seats in the 2014 election. However, for Maori to have a strong and effective left wing voice in the House, I think Sykes would do the job better than anyone Labour put up in Flavell’s electorate.

  10. QoT 10

    So tempted to vote Mana just to up the chances of Sykes in Parliament.

    • Tiger Mountain 10.1

      Give in to temptation!

    • Colonial Weka 10.2

      Have you done the figures QoT? Your vote probably won’t make any difference. If Mana win more seats via the electorates than they would get via the party vote (which is likely), then party voting Mana is giving a vote to National.

      Marty mars makes the case that party voting Mana increases support and builds the party over time (I think that is part of their rationale), but it’s such a crucial election I think it’s a flawed strategy.

      • QoT 10.2.1

        Depends on the polls coming out of Waiariki closer to the election, really.

      • marty mars 10.2.2

        At some point we all have to take a stand for what we believe in and what we think is right, not just pragmatism, or political expediency – that is how change occurs and that is how we are able to look at ourselves in the mirror each morning, metaphorically speaking.

        A strong Mana Party and associated equality and social justice outcomes will only occur when people who want those outcomes tick the Party Vote and if that is flawed, so be it.

        • Colonial Weka 10.2.2.1

          I understand where you are coming from marty, and have argued similarly in earlier days of the GP. I’m just not convinced that party voting Mana is best for Mana. If it means NACT getting another 3 years, does that serve Mana? Or would they grow more if they were on the left while the left was governing?

          • Colonial Weka 10.2.2.1.1

            btw, I would definitely consider giving my party vote to Mana if that would help them get more MPs.

            • marty mars 10.2.2.1.1.1

              Yeah I was thinking of the early Green years where I voted consistently for them because I believed in them and still do. I do take your point and the last thing I want is more of this crew. In some ways I’m lucky that Mana can get both my votes.

              I was just checking out another post – imagine if DC went to Mana – he could work well with Hone and really get some momentum going. My real vision is a Mana/Green government – I hope I see it in my lifetime 🙂 Kia kaha weka.

              • Colonial Weka

                DC to Mana is so much better an idea than DC to the GP! cheers marty.

                I’m pretty jaded about future politics in NZ, and have to admit that if there was a party that spoke to my heart I would probably feel similarly to you in terms of voting choices. You are fortunate to have a party that speaks to/for you so well.

          • marty mars 10.2.2.1.2

            Reply to CW @ 9.30 I’m not sure who would be best but I’m very concerned about how bad it is going to get for our country especially for the disadvantaged and those who need the most help.

  11. millsy 11

    Mana should think about standing candidates in this year’s local body elections. Would show that it is a true ‘flaxroots’ party and give it a chance to make a difference at local level. More than a few Mana people on the Far North District Council would give rich white man Wayne Brown a hard time.

    And perhaps Mana candidates standing for school boards? A great way to implement a ‘feed the kids’ policy school-by-school.

  12. xtasy 12

    Annette Sykes is solid as rock, when it comes to Maori issues and rights. I would be very worried, if she would ever consider to stand for Maori Party, or for some constructed Maori Party – Mana Party alliance. Maori Party was a Tariana Turia idea, and it was adopted by other founders and supporters. They had some good ideas and idealistic goals, but what has come of it?

    While being on the margin, and then going into coalition with National, that was madness. It has proved a disaster for Maori Party, and it will likely not survive it.

    I commented on the Mana Party before. I actually had a lot of hope and expectations in Mana growing bigger, but sadly it has become another marginal player.

    Hone has good values and principles, but at times he let a few of us down, with some comments and actions that were not that helpful. Yet I give him credit over all, and I do not rubbish him for some mistakes made.

    What worries me is the present scenario, where the Maori Party is dying, some asking for Hone or even Annette to step in and save them. Now, hey, that is not going to bloody work. Get off your high horses, dear old Maori establishment in MP, and perhaps join Mana or a new left party that may be founded soon.

    Of course tangata whenua need more political representation and force, certaily you will NOT get it from Hone Key, the traitor, and sell out artist.

    So something serious must be discussed, decided and action taken.

    I got worried about Hone’s comments re perhaps going for an “alliance” or so with MP, as that to me would have caused questions about Mana’s role and inclusiveness on the left. I am unsure where the travels will go, but surely, Maori will not gain much by working with and licking the bum of a Key led goverment.

    Kia Kaha

    • karol 12.1

      I think Hone has a strong emotional investment in the Maori Party. He was one of the ones in it from the beginning, and he was committed to its idea. He split with the Maori Party because he thought they were too much up John Key’s a**se and weren’t working for most Maori, the majority of whom are on relatively low incomes. But I can see why Hone would be tempted to re-unite with the Maori Party, and want to make it the party he originally hoped it would be.

      I don’t think it’s going to happen, though.

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