- Date published:
10:50 am, February 22nd, 2017 - 329 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, election 2017, greens, labour, mana, Maori Issues, maori party, Maori seats, Politics, uncategorized - Tags: kaupapa Māori, Pākehā
Hang on, did the Leader of the Opposition, the Pākehā man that should be Prime Minister of New Zealand in 8 months time, just say that some Māori aren’t real Māori? I think it’s unlikely that Andrew Little meant to come across like that, and listening to the RNZ interview, it was Susie Ferguson that raised the issue,
But is there also a hunger from the voters in those seats, to have an electorate MP who is from a kaupapa Māori party?
To which Andrew Little’s responded,
Well the Māori Party is not kaupapa Māori, we know that. It has conceded on every important issue affecting Māori…
The context was the Māori Party and Mana working together to gain the Māori seats back from Labour. It looks like Little was responding in the moment rather than bringing forth a Labour Party position on kaupapa Māori. I hope so, but it does raise the issue of why Little would respond in such a whitesplaining way. I’d like to be generous here and put it down to one of Little’s occasional slip ups in the media but maybe I’m being naive and this really is how Little and Labour see things.
Let’s back up a bit here, and look at what kaupapa Māori is. This from Māmari Stephens at Sparrowhawkkarearea,
OK, for those of you who may be unsure as to what is meant by the phrase ‘kaupapa Māori’ in the first place, here is Te Aka’s definition:
Māori approach, Māori topic, Māori customary practice, Māori institution, Māori agenda, Māori principles, Māori ideology – a philosophical doctrine, incorporating the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values of Māori society.
It’s a pretty broad set of ideas. Others have said kaupapa Māori is a way of doing things from a Māori worldview. Operating from a kaupapa Māori perspective then has nothing whatsoever to do with the battles you win or lose, but more with the way you think, act and make decisions. Kaupapa Māori can be exercised by individuals and groups, but will obviously have more impact when collectively undertaken. In fact, have a look at the Māori Party constitution if you want to get a sense of what operating from a base of kaupapa Māori can involve.
And this from Morgan Godfrey,
what the hell is kaupapa māori politics, anyway? here are three features, as i understand them…
1. kaupapa māori politics understands power relations through tino rangatiratanga and kāwanatanga, not sovereignty or monism or the like
2. kaupapa māori politics says sites of power – institutions etc – should operate according to tikanga (see the māori party constitution)
3. and any ideology and praxis needs a desired future. under kaupapa māori politics its democratic pluralism secured through mana motuhake
Looking at what has happened in the past few days, and listening to Little in the RNZ audio, I’m also getting a sense of kaupapa Labour. It looks like Labour are willing to bash those they see as being in their way politically. Not that that is unusual in NZ politics, but nevertheless it grates and makes me as a Pākehā leftie cringe when I see it being done to Māori, our treaty partners who are entitled to their own politics.
I understand why Labour need to be pragmatic around the Māori seats. Not only is this traditional Labour territory, it will be important to the Māori MPs in the party. There’s mana at stake. But technically Labour don’t need to win the Māori seats to govern. They could lose the six of the seven seats they hold and it wouldn’t affect the number of Labour MPs in parliament, because Labour get their MP total off the list vote.
It would affect the balance of MPs across the house (in part to do with the overhang issue), and I’m sure Labour have been crunching the numbers, but there are other ways that this could play out. Labour don’t need the Māori seats, but they do need coalition partners.
I can also understand why Labour wouldn’t be wanting to embrace the Māori Party with open arms, given its voting record in the past 9 years. But National hasn’t needed the Māori Party to govern, and it’s arguable that it is Labour’s own actions that stabilised National’s ability to do so. Had Labour been willing to work with the Greens prior to 2016, it’s likely that Peter Dunne wouldn’t have held Ōhāriu and that alone would have changed the way things played out in the past 3 years. And had they also placed Kelvin Davis high on the list and let Hone Harawira keep Te Tai Tokerau, then National and Act wouldn’t have had a majority.
See how this antagonistic, blame things works? Labour says it’s the Māori Party that are at fault, but isn’t that throwing stones from a glass house? And are Māori Party and Mana policies something that Labour can work with or not? Is kaupapa Pākehā based on power not on relationships? In an MMP world, wouldn’t supporting the widest range of representation better serve us all? Shouldn’t we be trying to work together? What would happen if our politics were based on relationships not power?
My question now is this. What will happen if Labour need the Māori Party and/or Mana to form government in September? Has that bridge been burnt? Or is this Labour’s business as usual politics where you go hard against people until you realise you might actually need them?