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Labour’s Auckland Push

Written By: - Date published: 10:51 am, August 30th, 2016 - 57 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, class war, election 2017, labour, mana, maori party, national, Politics, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

It’s been confirmed that Matt McCarten, currently Labour’s Chief of Staff, will move back to Auckland in September to head up a new project there. Matt will be in charge of maximising the vote in NZ’s biggest city and will run an office dedicated to that task.

It’s a tribute to his skills that he was retained in the Chief of Staff role by Andrew Little after being appointed by David Cunliffe. Little notes that McCarten’s value is in coordination:

His strength is in the networks and setting up programmes and places for me to go to and getting stuff organised. And that is what I need.”

Matt has an almost unique ability to add value to whatever political project he takes on.

In his time he directly challenged the Rogernomes in Labour, helping to form NewLabour with Jim Anderton. He then oversaw the formation of the Alliance, the political grouping that spectacularly took a big chunk of the left vote in the 1999 election.

After the Alliance fell apart, he advised Tariana Turia and other disaffected MP’s who had broken away from Labour. While he was no doubt disappointed that the Maori party rejected his preferred left positioning in favour of a non challenging spot as National’s lapdog, his ability to organise was recognised shortly afterwards when he returned to the union movement as National Secretary of the Unite union.

After leaving Unite and a brief time advising Hone Harawira’s fledgling mana party, McCarten surprised many on the left by accepting the Labour Party’s Chief of Staff role, at the invitation of David Cunliffe. In his time in charge of the Opposition leaders team, he has overseen a refreshing of the ranks, and he leaves behind a solid core of staffers who appear ready for election year.

McCarten’s next challenge will be to solidify the work Labour are doing north of the Bombay’s. It’s been obvious for quite some time that National are vulnerable in Auckland.

National’s mishandling of the housing crisis, their lukewarm commitment to public transport and their failure to get a unity candidate for the mayoral election shows a party that has dropped the ball in NZ’s biggest city.

Opening a dedicated office in Auckland is a sign of Labour’s growing confidence and strategic nous. And Matt McCarten is the ideal person to maximise the outcomes, so I’m expecting good things from this appointment.

Yet again, we are seeing the Labour party making organisational gains under the leadership of Andrew Little. The parliamentary caucus is united and most of the tainted old guard MP’s are going or gone. Party membership is on the improve, the activist base is growing and the MoU with the Greens has given some solidity to the opposition not seen in recent years.

If Labour can take Auckland, they’ll be forming the next government.

Nice work, Andrew, nice work Matt.

I’m looking forward to 2017.


matt mcarten





57 comments on “Labour’s Auckland Push ”

  1. Danyl Mclauchlan 1

    [Hollow laughter]

    • Leftie 1.1

      Why Danyl Mclauchlan?

      • Ad 1.1.1

        … is an existential question we’ve often asked.

        • dukeofurl

          Its what happens when you are James Shaws ivory tower academic.
          Thats what the political process in NZ needs, a computational biologists input.

    • billmurray 1.2

      te reo Putake, LOL it was a claytons dumping, McCarten will feet up , you must be on the good stuff, whose your supplier?.
      Has McCarten paid his back taxes yet?.
      Still LOL, good piece well done..

      • I understand that McCarten was keen to take on the Auckland office project. It’s his home town and his employment history (as detailed in the post) shows he has always moved on when he felt the time was right and there was other good work to be done.

        McCarten owes the IRD nothing and was never in arrears to them. If you want to wallow in the shallow end of the pool, pop over to WO. Facts never get in the way of a good smear over there.

        In a nutshell, you’re full of it.

        • billmurray

          te reo Putake, you know self deception can be terminal, McCarten/ Unite do owe taxes and arrears are a fact, I truly believe that it was a claytons dumping, he was chief of staff, what is his new title?, has he dropped salary level and will he have staff?.
          I look forward to going to a few of his meetings and catching up with you but be warned I will not tolerate bulldust.
          Labour is looking vunerable with Matts departure and without a new chief of staff in sight!.

          • McFlock

            McCarten/ Unite do owe taxes and arrears are a fact,

            Citation please.
            Oh, I know there was an issue a couple of elections ago, but surely they’ve come to an agreement since then? Do you have any evidence whatsoever that the debt is still outstanding?

            • te reo putake

              Many years ago Unite operated a separate, at arms length company that provided services to the union. It was wound up and came to an arrangement with the IRD. Not McCarten’s personal responsibility. Not Unite’s either.

              In fact, the service company was structured in a way that is entirely common in NZ business. It went bust. These things happen in business. This is not corruption like, say, owning Tranzrail shares and denying profiting off them, or being the beneficiary of the world’s most thinly veiled blind trust.

              It’s a smear, is what it is.

              • McFlock


                So as far as IRD are concerned, six years later there’s no money outstanding?

                In that case the “smear” looks to me like it’s just a touch defamatory.

              • Chuck

                “McCarten’s vehicle, which supplied administrative support services to the youth-orientated union Unite, was put into liquidation by a High Court order last month after the IRD pursued it for “failure to provide for taxation,” according to the first liquidator’s report.”

                “The Official Assignee rated the prospect of a dividend as “unlikely,” and is looking into the company’s possible interest in an Onehunga building lease, the report said. ”



                TRP I note you say this “Not McCarten’s personal responsibility” so I assume you support ALL people that hide behind company and/or trust structures to avoid paying debts??? or just Matt???

                I guess if Matt has indeed paid it off then great…shame he thought it was OK in the first place to give the finger to all other tax payers.

            • billmurray

              I understand that “Stuff- Businessday’ published an article whereby McCarten admitted to them that he and the Unite union owe about $170.000 to the IRD he said that he was keen to pay the debt, the article is dated 5 August 2016.
              There has not been any report on the debt repayment and surely it is fair to conclude that the debt is still outstanding.
              I have searched for any reports on the debt repayment and cannot find any, some of the $170.000 is arrears to tax owing.

              [Great. Find that article or any other that confirms that McCarten personally owes IRD money and post it. Until you can provide evidence, this discussion is over. TRP]

              • McFlock


                Oh, you “understand” that, do you?

                Funny, because in 2011 they were paying off 130k debt at $8k a month. By arrangment. So it should have been sorted well before last election.

                By pure coincidence, I’m sure, there was an internet site that mentioned the debt on august 5, but that was fucking kiwiblog that simply recycled the 2010 Stuff story alongside Labour’s announcement a few weeks ago of wanting to get employer kiwisaver contribution arrears sorted.

                But you wouldn’t be confusing current mention of an outstanding debt with clickbait propaganda about a debt that had been sorted well before mccarten was even associated with the Labour Party, would you?

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                When is Trevor Rogers going to stop embodying National Party values?

      • Bob 1.2.2

        “it was a claytons dumping”
        That’s how I saw it too, but good to see it has TRP re-energised.
        The sign off “Nice work, Andrew, nice work Matt.” and “I’m looking forward to 2017” did make me laugh. They haven’t actually done anything so not sure what they are being congratulated for, and looking forward to next year just sounds like another Warriors supporter!

        • te reo putake

          Rabbitohs, Bob. And yes, it’ll be next season for us, too. Glory, glory, South Sydney!

          Little has turned Labour around. He’s got the caucus behaving properly for the first time since Clark departed. He’s got Labour working in close cooperation with the Greens, something previously unheard of. Labour and friends have been close too or ahead of National for most of the polls in the last year or so.

          And, tellingly, he’s still there, leading from the front. Not a hint of discontent from his MP’s.

          McCarten has built the team in Labour’s office. First, with Cunliffe, now with Little. Everything I’ve heard, and every communication I’ve had from them as a member, suggests he’s got the office humming.

          I know an efficient, focussed Labour team is a surprise to many, but Little and McCarten seem to have achieved exactly that.

          • Bob

            “Little has turned Labour around”
            I will give you the part where the caucus are behaving properly (the ABC’s have gone quiet for a start), but they are polling at their lowest level since the 2014 election, so I guess saying he has “turned Labour around” really depends on what their main focus is.

            “I know an efficient, focussed Labour team is a surprise to many, but Little and McCarten seem to have achieved exactly that.”
            You are right, that would surprise me for one. I guess it is just a case of the work going on behind the scenes isn’t being conveyed to the public, could be a reason why McCarten is moving to a new role…

            BTW, I would suggest next year is more likely to be the Rabbitohs year than the Warriors.

            • te reo putake

              I certainly hope the bunnies get up. A great working class club I’ve supported since well before there was a Warriors. Proud of their roots, part of their community.

              Re: Little etc. The key point is getting Labour in a position to form a government. Even at RM’s bogus 25.5%, Labour are there and have been there pretty much since Little took over. Personally, I think the Greens have gained a few soft points since the MoU. This possibility was discussed here at TS at the time.

              however, if the two parties combined reach the 40’s on election day, and most polls suggest that’s likely, that’s a mandate to try and put a government together.

          • Jenny Kirk

            + 100%

    • Mike Bond 1.3

      I will join you in that laughter Danyl. Ha Ha Ha

  2. Jo 2

    Little is tinkering while Rome burns.
    What is he doing about the crisis developing with the Maori vote and there is now talk of Mahuta either jumping ship or resigning and forcing a by-election, demoting her was politically very stupid. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but then he demotes Mahuta and Cunliffe, who both have very good grassroot appeal.
    This is the first time in the election cycle since National came to office where they look vulnerable and Labour can’t budge off 25%, they loose the Maori vote and this will be the best they can hope fore at the general election.
    It is time for people to take the heads out of the sand, Little does not have the charisma and it would also appear he also lacks the political nous to take Labour to the next election. Labour need to act now and even then it may be too late.

    • weka 2.1

      “and there is now talk of Mahuta either jumping ship or resigning and forcing a by-election, demoting her was politically very stupid.”

      Where is that talk happening exactly?

      If you think Labour need a charismatic leader and that Little isn’t it, what do you suggest they do?

      • Jo 2.1.1

        Leader Cunliffe, deputy Ardern and move Parker back into finance. Make it very clear that the focus is not on 2017 but 2020 when Key is gone. The biggest problem Cunliffe had was, there was no time for him to settle in as leader, it was almost like he tried too hard and he obviously had some very difficult personal problems to deal with.

        So what if people like Goff (soon to be gone) and King (past her use-by-date and she is awful in the house with her shrill interjections) don’t like him, they are not the future of the party.

        It is a bloody travesty that Cunliffe was replaced, take out Dot.com and he would probably have been the PM and then the caucus force him out! Little was elected with zip support outside of the Unions, at least Cunliffe had the backing of the membership, Little didn’t even have that.

        • Brigid

          Cunliffe “obviously had some very difficult personal problems to deal with.”
          Care to elaborate?

          • Jo

            He separated from his wife not long after the election, pretty tough going through that and trying to win an election at the same time.

        • The biggest problem Cunliffe had was the careerists determined to lose an election spectacularly in order to undermine him, but I will concede that you make a very good play for second-biggest there. 😉

          • Jo

            and you can also add that they and Little hope he will resign in 2017. The problem the ABC club has is that Robertson has shown himself to be very ineffectual as the Finance spokesman and lazy to boot. Which means he would be useless as leader and now they have no one but Little to hang their hat on. But who cares we kept Cunliffe out and that was what was important.

            Labour will go no where until Goff, Cossgrove, King, Dyson and Mallard are gone. Unfortunately they are all going to be in charge until 2017.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              To be fair I think Robertson is actually competent in finance and makes Bill English look stupid if you understand economics and political science, it’s just he doesn’t get how to communicate that in feelings, like much of the ABC club he’s a technocrat who thinks if they get the policy right everything will work out fine. The job is 90% communication, not 90% policy. (To be fair Cunliffe didn’t even get that mix right either, but he was the best leader they’ve had since Clark on that front)

              I agree with you on most of the old guard you refer to, (especially Mallard, who I imagine is desperately holding on to try and be Speaker before he’s forced out, and to be fair, that’s about the only role I’d want to see him in, as he may yet pull a Lockwood Smith and turn out to be much better as a Speaker than as an MP) although having actually seen some of Dyson’s work behind the scenes, she is actually a very effective MP from said technocratic- and representational side of things, and I wouldn’t mind her staying on as a backbencher with a senior portfolio, it’s just these people need to realise they are elder statespeople, not leading lights, and need to be mentoring their replacements and preparing to retire from the Party.

        • Mike Bond

          Well said Jo.

    • Leftie 2.2

      Where did you hear that load of crap from Jo?

    • Bill 2.3

      There’s always the possibility – just a possibility mind – that Little is attempting to successfully pull off Ed Miliband’s electoral strategy.

      That strategy (according to Corbyn) was to under-promise and over-deliver. Miliband got tied in knots by it, but essentially the idea was to mollify the ‘right’ of the party by fighting on that small and kinda boring contested area that’s occupied by the ‘wealthier mashed potato with no salt people’ (muddle NZ in our case) and then deliver on policy tailored for the greater unwashed and abandoned (poorer) masses.

      If – big if – that’s the game plan, then Mahuta, Cunliffe et al don’t come into play until after the election.

      • Jo 2.3.1

        So in other words lie! Well the UK voters saw through it and so will the NZ voting Public.
        The problem is, when people suspect you are doing that they ask very specific questions like; will you introduce a capital gains tax or raise the retirement age? Part of John Key’s appeal was he said he would not raise the retirement age, and if National did he would resign as leader. Black and White, discussion over, is Little going to do that or is he going to say we are going to set up a commission/working group to look in to it? People then think, am I voting for this man and his party or some faceless working group. What if I don’t like what the working group comes up with? Better vote for the devil I know!

        • Leftie

          The devil you want lies all the time. John key is notorious for that. No thanks Jo, 9 years of National’s corruption, sell outs and abject failures is enough. There will be nothing left to fight for should Key rig his way in for another term. I for one, will be voting for change and will vote for a Lab/Green coalition government. You stick with your empty guns though.

          • Reddelusion

            Never would have guessed 😀

          • Jo

            well if the Maori/Mana party take the Maori seats and go into coalition with National then Lab/Green/NZF are not going to be in the dance.

  3. Leftie 3

    Very nice post there Te Reo Putake, it is most definitely going to be a very interesting year ahead.

  4. Ad 4

    We Labour members are very lucky to have actual hard core activists like Matt pushing the leadership from within. Well overdue that Auckland gets some specific focus.

    Can I just put a vote in for a decent fundraiser evening? I understand there are some actual dedicated fundraising resource in Labour HQ these days.
    I went to one in central Auckland when Helen was still around with an art auction in it, and it was a total frenzy of bidding. I remember losing on an Ann Robinson to Charles Chauvell. I don’t think it would be hard to get the Usual Suspects out for a bit of an evening.

    • save nz 4.1

      +2 Ad – although I think the focus should be on getting votes and winning the hearts and minds and trust of Aucklander’s. Fundraising should be secondary or not a huge focus. If Winston only has $80,000 and doing ok, then Labour should be focusing on getting more than 25% of vote, not getting money out of people to send them postcards to get more than 25% of the vote. A post card will not change someones mind to vote. A vision and passion and integrity is.

      I am a fan of Cunliffe but it was not a good look when Labour lost the last election to blame fundraising as a reason. It was certainly not fundraising issues that lost last election for Labour. It was the behaviour, policy and strategy of Labour MP’s that lost the last election.

  5. Righty right 5

    Well you see Auckland speculator can’t afford any change if labour were to bailout the home owner and reduce our mortgages that would be a winner
    We need the current environment to stay solvent we personally can’t afford low cost home to be built labour should scrap kiwi build and state homes

  6. save nz 6

    Great move by Little. Labour seem to have a plan and executing it skilfully.

  7. Michael 7

    FWICS, Little has no chance of becoming Prime Minister at any time. Although I understand Labour’s calculation that it does not need the vote of proletarians, or people who live outside the three big cities (same thing, really), in order to take office next year, I think it’s going to be too hard for it to persuade a couple of hundred thousand metropolitan voters (Labour’s target market) to abandon Key and tick the Party Vote box next to the B Team next year. Although Labour should be able to stick Key with all the blame for Auckland’s dysfunctional residential property market (the only issue the target market cares about), I have yet to see any evidence that Labour knows how to manage the problem (I take it as granted that no one knows how to solve it). Exploiting the fear and greed of the target market so as to gain political office calls for a deft hand that I don’t see Labour possessing. Perhaps McCarten has such a hand well-hidden up his sleeve?

    • Ad 7.1

      McCarten has the best interests of working people in his blood.
      As does Andrew Little.
      You would know this from a cursory glace at their track records.

      • Michael 7.1.1

        McCarten maybe, Little no. I base this conclusion on a close reading of their respective track records.

    • Garibaldi 7.2

      I tend to agree with you Michael. It’s like Little is “Third way mk2”. Labour is still basically a right wing party with its free market dogma introduced by Douglas etc back in ’84. I can’t see Little campaigning successfully against Key when their policies are basically similar. How many Nat policies would Labour change outright? Bugger all.

      • In Vino 7.2.1

        Yes, Labour have tended to stall the Neo- Lib progress, but never remove the plumbing, meaning that National can easily push the agenda when they get back in.
        And Working for Families was a sop to Righties, rewarding only the virtuous who had work, and leaving the poorest children with no help.
        More open commitment needed to my mind.

        • Cricklewood

          I’ve always admired the unwavering support given to Labour by some on the left.
          When you look at the last two lab govts they have done very little for the most down trodden in society… made worse by the fact they laid the platform for Ruth Richardson and then couldn’t bring themselves to undo the harm that was done in any meaningful fashion….

          • Michael

            Cricklewood – I agree with your analysis. Labour abandoned its base many years ago and no longer wants to reconnect with it. Perhaps it is just too hard to mobilise alienated voters, when all Labour needs next year is the Party Votes of 200,000 (or so) flakie bourgeoisie, whipped into a state of hysteria over the nominal values of their homes in the big cities. Any government that results from an appeal to this sliver of the electorate won’t be a Labour one, of course.

  8. Jenny Kirk 8

    Hey tereoputake – great post, but it sure did bring some rightwing trolls out of the undergrowth ! They sound a bit worried ……… as they should be !

    • Yep! One of Key’s strengths has been to ride out difficult patches. But the Auckland housing crisis drags on and on and the Nats continue to look hopelessly ineffective. Hence the obvious worry from the right here and on other social media.

      Plus, it occurs to me that ‘Labour did it too’ is getting less useful as the years pass and it’s seen as odd for Key to both blame Helen Clark for all manner of things and at the same time to be singing her praises in the UN.

  9. Mr Righty 9

    Hey TRP
    Mccartens company, of which he was sole director was wound up by the liquidators with no money recovered and Mcarten removed as director.


    Where is the evidence that he and his company paid the money owing?

  10. Mr Righty 10

    Mccarten should be labour spokesperson on economics, a failed Director of a company wound up by the courts in 2013 with no $ recovered. Wipe the egg from your face TRP


    • He’s not an MP, you egg. And having a failed company doesn’t mean a thing. There’s plenty of NZ business owners who didn’t always succeed. Doesn’t mean they’re precluded from doing other things in their professional lives. Grow up, mate.

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