High noon on the foreshore

Written By: - Date published: 8:40 am, June 10th, 2010 - 35 comments
Categories: foreshore and seabed, Maori Issues, maori party, national - Tags:

Take it or leave it, says John Key to the Maori Party over the foreshore and seabed. So much for consultation and collective decision making with their government partner. Like the trader he is, Key’s made his offer – symbolic change and nothing more. If the Maori Party don’t want to buy, he doesn’t care. Key doesn’t need to make the deal. The Maori Party does.

The Maori Party has given a hell of a lot in its side of the deal with National. It’s voted for GST hikes, for education cuts, for health cuts, for conservation cuts, for state housing cuts, for gutting the ETS, for a Supercity with no Maori seats. It was supported a government that has attacked beneficiaries and workers alike. It has borne insults like the Tuhoe cannibal ‘joke’ and been forced to accept an insultingly small amount of funding for its flagship social policy. The ‘drivers of crime’ initiative has received nothing except for a one-day workshop. Maori Party ministers have been continually left out of decision-making and chosen to accept humiliating public back downs when National springs things on them.

Crucially, the Maori Party has been a fig leaf hiding the true rightwing nature of this government. Imagine if National and ACT alone had passed a Budget with GST hikes, spending cuts, and borrowing to pay for tax cuts to the rich. Everyone would have agreed it was the most rightwing Budget in 19 years. But the Maori Party’s support helped muddy the waters.

Its got a few beads and blankets, and a flag on a bridge for a day, but essentially the Maori Party has been keeping the faith with National and building up the debt to be repaid with a good deal on the foreshore and seabed.

But Key’s banked all that the Maori Party has given him. Now that it’s his turn to do the giving, he’s not interested. Why should he? What use is the Maori Party to him now? What does he care if they walk away? He’s gotten what he needs from them and with an election just over a year away its time for him to distance himself from them anyway.

Key stands to win either way. If the Maori Party walks way from the government over the foreshore and seabed deal, he can say he has refused to give in to extremism and middle New Zealand will love it. If the Maori Party kowtows then Key is the great uniter.

The Maori Party have been honest, if naive, brokers through out. Their reward has been to be screwed over time and again. I want to be clear that I, like many on the Left, supported the Maori Party breaking off to be a dedicated voice for Maori while sharing, as Pita Sharples and others have said, the same underlying leftwing values as the rest of us. But most on the Left opposed them getting into bed with National because it was always going to go down this way.

The best the Maori Party can do now is prove that it is about principles, not baubles, and walk away from the government with what is left of its dignity intact.

35 comments on “High noon on the foreshore”

  1. yes marty g it is crunch time – i cannot see how they can oppose the Iwi leaders group and their rejection of the bogus “no one owns it” line. key has made a big mistake here and this is a ‘cleaving’ moment.


  2. the sprout 2

    i do wonder how long they’ll wait before pulling the plug – it’s not like the Maori Party will get any less from this deal once their officially outside of Government.
    if this very lopsided coalition continues much longer the Maori Party will be indelibly tainted by their support for National. really it’s probably too late to avoid that, all that remains is the question of how well the Maori Party can salvage any kind of mana from this sorry saga.

  3. Reality 3


    [lprent: idiot troll. ]

    • exbrethren 3.1

      Try reading the post. National may have given lipservice to consultation but Captain Beaky has ridden roughshod over the whole process and said take what I say not what comes out of consultation.

      Another total waste of tax payer dollars on ‘consultation’ that is, and always was going to be, ignored. John Key doesn’t believe in consultation just dictatorial decrees.

      • Reality 3.1.1


        [lprent: idiot troll. ]

        • Reality

          Apologies if my posts overstepped the rules.

          [lprent: Your comments were simply stupid.

          You don’t need the idiotic dogwhistle phrases to debate – they are a crutch for inadequate debaters. What you need is to make your points reasonably clearly without the histrionics and they will get past moderation. That style of comment just wastes my moderating time.

          Your comments looked like something you do in the sewer – not here. I’ll release the auto-moderation and we’ll see how you go from here out. ]

  4. Craig Glen Eden 4

    “The best the Maori Party can do ………… walk away from the Government with what is left of its dignity intact.”

    Its all to late no dignity left, as for this lets pretend they are a left wing party, give me a break. The Maori Party have done nothing to help the poor Maori or non Maori.
    They have acted like a Tory Party and supported a Tory Party because thats what they are.

    Anti -Spam word (harm) yup says it all.

  5. Lew 5

    For once, Marty, I agree with you. They’re down there at the crossroads for sure.


    • Clarke 5.1

      The Maori Party’s complete failure to deliver anything of value to Maori doesn’t invalidate the need for the party … they just need to find some leaders who are actually capable of playing the game of politics. They’ve been out-maneuvered at every turn by Key.

      It seems to me that the basic business is sound – it just needs competent management instead of the clowns they have running it at the moment.

      • Lew 5.1.1

        I agree with you to an extent — but I’d argue that there aren’t any (or many) more capable Māori politicians than they have at present. It’s a thin bench, a shallow talent pool due to the small number of Māori, and the small proportion of them who finish school, let alone go on to be successful enough to develop the sort of skillset that being a politician requires, and the fact that many of those few — probably down to triple-digits — which remain have been co-opted and compromised or are otherwise occupied in the judiciary, academy or another branch of civil society.

        I think that, given the hand they were dealt, without the ability to hold the government to ransom (due to the two-wing coalition strategy) they’ve done alright. I think they have been out-manouvred by Key, but so has everyone else.

        Will be very interesting to see who replaces Tariana prior to the next election.


        • Clarke

          That’s a fair assessment, and you’re right – finding alternative leaders is a non-trivial process for Maoridom. After all, if Labour are struggling to bring a new generation through then the problem will be commensurately more difficult for a party with smaller numbers and less history of succession.

          • Lew

            … especially when Labour remains the party all those young up-and-comers grew up voting for.


  6. felix 6

    So that’s it.

    The Maori Party have betrayed their supporters at every step because they bet the whole farm on National acting in good faith on the F&S.

    And National won’t. And they were never going to.

    Happy now? Happy you voted for the last two budgets? Happy you voted for lowering workplace standards? Happy you voted for the ETS you opposed?

    Much as I’m loathe to say “I told you so”, WE ALL FUCKING TOLD YOU SO!

    • Lew 6.1

      Look at the bright side: National have been given a chance to show they were a better sort than before, and have declined it. Now they won’t have any Māori support — and will have plenty of Māori opposition — for a generation. Cold comfort, but there it is.

      Over to you, Labour.


      • felix 6.1.1

        Yes I suppose, cold comfort and small mercies etc.

        It still smarts though. I really wanted to be wrong about this. I’m almost out of people to vote for.

        cap: annoyed

      • the sprout 6.1.2

        I’m almost out of people to vote for

        oh, i hear you felix

  7. Jim MacDonald 7

    If I were the Maori Party members, I’d say enough is enough. Enough of dead rats. We’ve swallowed a few while you, John Key, only smile and wave those dead rats and you have not eaten your share.

  8. mikesh 8

    I think Key is right to stick to his guns on the F&S issue since few NZers support maori ownership of the F&S. It only goes to show the maori party to have been formed on the basis of unrealistic expectations. Not only should they walk away but they should also disband.

    • Lanthanide 8.1

      Yes, I’d have to agree. Trying to form a fringe, race-based minority party pushing an agenda that the majority of people don’t want really is a very steep uphill battle. What did they expect?

      • Lew 8.1.1

        They don’t need the support of a majority of people. They just need the support of a decent minority. So far they’ve had that on the basis that they might be able to extract certain major policy concessions from the government. Since it’s becoming more and more abundantly clear that they won’t, I anticipate that the only way they’ll retain that support is to call time on the agreement.

        This idea that to be a legitimate democratic actor you need 50% + 1 on your own is bullshit. You just need to represent your bloc, and do so truly and to the best of your ability.


        • Zaphod Beeblebrox

          They just need to hold their nerve! ACT won’t have more than 2 or 3 next parliament, so unless Nat can get 48% plus next election Key won’t be in a great spot. What they need to do now is stay united, focussed and not cave in.
          If Key can form a majority govt they could then deal with whoever is the Labour leader to form a Labour/Green/MP grouping in opposition. Thats if they can save face with their supporters.

          Don’t believe this now or never BS- the time will come.

        • Lanthanide

          I never said that what they were doing was wrong, or bad, or that they shouldn’t do it because the majority of the country doesn’t agree.

          I simply said it was going to be very difficult and they shouldn’t have expected anything else.

          A few months back I did catch a snippet (should be an open mike thread comment under my name), I think it was John Key saying it directly, that in the end if the F&S act doesn’t get repealed, they will still have lived up to their side of the Supply & Confidence agreement because it said they would examine the issue and make changes if they could be agreed to, but didn’t promise that they would definitely repeal it. It seems that Tariana and Pita missed that little wrinkle of the agreement and have been carrying on all this time like it’s a done-deal, when really it was National putting a contractual fast-one on them.

          • Lew

            I don’t think they missed that “wrinkle” — it was very widely discussed at the time. Key will have lived up to the agreement — but that’s not really what matters.


      • Clarke 8.1.2

        Trying to form a fringe, race-based minority party pushing an agenda that the majority of people don’t want really is a very steep uphill battle.

        With this minor alteration your statement could also be true of Act – it seems the major difference (as highlighted by Lew further up-thread) is that Maoridom simply don’t have the history and therefore depth of talent in playing politics at the top table. But these are pretty hard ways for Maori leaders to learn the necessary lessons.

  9. ak 10

    Top post Marty (et tu Lew – cracker, more Trotteresque by the day…:)

    This particular high noon’s been inevitable since day one of course: wee Johnny needed the MP to avoid being “wagged” by the daggy ACT dog-tail, and the MP quite rightly tried to exploit the position. A temporary electoral fluke that could never last – NACT history and ideology only too well branded on the Maori psyche over generations. Unless massive gains were achieved (a pipe-dream now finally and dramatically extinguished), the MP was always going to divorce from NACT prior to 2011 – simply to ensure its own survival.

    What’s interesting is the timing. NACT would certainly have preferred a later date, still heavily ruing the the premature ejaculation of Orewa One: and the poll-entrails of various efforts since then (Winnie speeches, “Mofogate”, “Tuhoegate” etc) indicate that maori-bashing is losing it’s electoral yield. Like all reactionary targets down the ages (irish, gays, catholics, women, crips etc etc) there’s a salubrious law of diminishing returns. Bigotry fatigue: aka inevitable historic Progression.

    Which is why this is a progressive development. As is Mauler Benefit’s recent premature heave of putrescence on the other remaining scapegoat. Either a deliberate attempt to create a poll “cushion” for some real bad news on the way, or just plain old bad NACT judgement (suspect the former: health cuts, supercity rout, W recession etc). Either way, keep on coming, NACT: empty those pitiful, putrid sacs as quick as you like and limp into next year on an impotent smile.

    Where to for Labour you ask? The ILG beckons the way with (at last) a focus on that so-far ignored “white sands” privately-held foreshore. The trends (look at reactions to supercity, Ecan, mining the bush and Kiwibank privatisation) point to a groundswell of greenpinkery: and the exponentially growing army of fisherpeople, boaties and freedom-loving ourdoorspeople have long abhorred coastal restriction of any sort. Lab could do worse than proposing a guaranteed-access “continuous coastline for all”: complusory buy-backs with commensurate compensations and rights (a la Ngati Porou) for Maori. Technicalities to follow: grand visions are enough for voters.

  10. ianmac 11

    A spokeman for Ngati Porou this morning on National Radio said that they were not opposed to Public ownership as they already had an agreement in principle over Customary Rights. I thought he was talking about an understanding of acceptance by a much wider group than his iwi. He said that Public ownership was better than the existing Act. Not able to link this???

  11. mikesh 12

    I can’t see that there is any difference between public ownership and crown ownership since, in any issue involving the foreshore, the crown would accept the advice of the public or, rather, the advice of the public’s political representatives.

  12. My disgust at the actions of the Maori Party should be know now.Marty your comments are unfortunatly true.I can not get my head around the facts that the Maori Party has supported this far Right government to non -stop. The trouble is Sharples is like a big lovable bear, and does not want to rock the boat in case he goes overboard and looses his status as a mininster,
    Turia is harder to understand , a bit creepy to say the least . Her constant
    smooching with Key is nauseous. She is prepaired to be shunned and passed over maily because of her hatred of Helen Clark and therefore
    the Labour Party. I

    • Lew 13.1

      Shorter Postman:

      “I don’t know the first damned thing about what’s going on with this issue, but anyone that dislikes Labour must be scum!”


  13. gobsmacked 14

    And in other news … NZ government about to face biggest internal split since break-up of the Alliance in 2002, but no porn involved, so ignored by TV news bulletins.


    That’s a prepared press release, not an unguarded comment in an interview. Draw your own conclusions.

    On Monday it goes to Cabinet. This weekend is the last, last chance saloon.

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