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Maori Party schism inevitable

Written By: - Date published: 3:22 pm, November 13th, 2009 - 39 comments
Categories: maori party - Tags: , ,

The Maori Party was never going to be a sustainable political vehicle. No political movement that tries to exist in defiance of the material conditions of its constituents can be, and the economic interests of the wealthy Maori elite and the Maori working class are simply incompatible.

The Maori Party has to continually choose which side to back. It’s clear that Turia and Sharples will always go with the elite. Harawira represented the Maori working class.

Harawira’s clearly been deeply unhappy with the direction Turia and Sharples have taken the party. Betraying the Maori working class on issues like tax cuts and ACC. Cuddling up to the bosses’ party. I reckon dissatisfaction with his sell-out party has morphed into his recent anger. Doesn’t excuse it though.

He should have left earlier. Taken half the party with him. Katene might have joined him. Could have formed a more honest Maori party committed to a better deal for workers and protecting the environment. Could have taken on the Turia/Sharples rump and toppled those old sell-outs.

Turia and Sharples see Harawira as dog tucker now. They see this as their opportunity to get rid of a thorn in their side as they throw in their lot with big business and the political right. He should jump before he is pushed. Take as many of the activists with him as he can. See if he can rebuild himself as an independent voice for working class Maori.

39 comments on “Maori Party schism inevitable ”

  1. Lew 1

    The aphorism about hangling together lest they hang separately certainly comes to mind, here.


  2. gobsmacked 2

    Ultimately, it all comes down to John Key.

    If he delivers on the Foreshore & Seabed, then the Maori Party will have achieved its primary goal – even if they then fade away like the Alliance, NZ First etc.

    So really, Sharples and Turia are hoping that John Key has a far-sighted long-term vision of Aotearoa, and a spine to match. I think they’re wrong on both counts, but will be happy to be proved wrong.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 2.1

      Or conversely, once the F and S is sorted out the Maori Party may not have much of reason to exist.

      Unless they decide to stand up for the rights of the Maori working class. Might upset the Maori aristocracy if they did, but there’s the breaks.

    • Pretty bizarre really.

      I could justify the F&SA to myself because I thought the issuing of a “title” for the foreshore could result in its alienation and this would be a bad thing for both Maori and pakeha. I thought that existing rights should be able to be recognised and there is a mechanism in the Act for this to happen despite what most people say. I thought that the Labour rhetoric was a bit on the high side but this was only because of bombardment from the right and the “Iwi Kiwi” billboards and the like.

      Labour’s position was perhaps not ideal but compared to National’s position it was a lot better. A reminder to everyone, National’s position was to take away any vestige of a right that may have existed.

      And now Superman John Key strides in promising something better than what Labour offerered. He has jumped from National’s position, over Labour’s position and is trying to occupy a position that Maori will accept.

      Good luck to him. I wonder how he will explain this to the redneck element of his party?

      • Rob Carr 2.2.1

        The process to claim cultural rights is incredibly difficult under the act it might as well not exist I am not sure if anyone has actually done it.

  3. Anne 3

    Hear hear Zetetic. Could not be better put!

    Congratulations to the various Standard posters who predicted this would happen within the first year. If Hone Harawira leaves the MP – and takes his activists with him – then they may be surprised how much support they receive including from a significant portion of the pakeha population. But it would be up to them to show over time that they are worthy of the support.

    • Daveski 3.1

      Conversely of course Anne it could go the other way.

      As gs rightly points out, this is a side show and the real issue on the table is the foreshore. For sure.

      Hone has the same problems of being an activist MP as Sue Bradford and ironic too that she left. It’s great being an activist and standing up to all the evil in the world. Problem is, it isn’t going to change a thing unless you can work with the power base at the centre whether Labour or National.

      Key is the king maker here. He has the opportunity to make the Maori Party a long term fixture. Hone is irrelevant to the main game.

  4. Peter Wilson 4

    The question is, will anyone follow him? Katene will probably stick it out with the current lot, but I’m not sure about Flavell.

    I expect things to get quite interesting on both sides over the next few weeks.

  5. Deus ex Machina 5

    “See if he can rebuild himself as an independent voice for working class Maori.”

    So his is the genuine voice of working class Maori ?

    “Gee Buddy, do you believe that white man bullshit too do you?

    White motherfuckers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries, and all of a sudden you want me to play along with their puritanical bullshit.

    And quite frankly I don’t give a shit what you or anyone else thinks about it.”

    Yup, guess it is.

  6. Craig Ranapia 6

    I’d hope that if Harawira does jump waka, he’d do the honourable thing and resign from Parliament, and seek the endorsement of the flaxroots in a by-election.

    Or would that be a principle too far — because I’m sure those sellout “nigger boys” (Harawira’s charming term for Wira Gardner) in Labour and the Maori Party would love the chance to ask what Hone really stands for, besides himself. He certainly won’t be able to get away with a shirty email, or being fed softballs by JT and Willie.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1

      So Wira Gardner is with labour??

      No wonder the National Conference didnt elect him to their board.

      Resign from Parliament and seek the endorsement of the flax roots?.
      Apart from the fact the money for travel and salary would stop on that day, Hone had the second lowest majority in the MP.

  7. The Voice of Reason 7

    However this works out, it’s great to see the two right wing support parties in the crap this week.

    I suppose there is sufficient time for Hide to re-ingratiate himself with Epsom’s voters, so it might be wishful thinking that ACT will disappear after the next election, but this Maori Party ruction should see Labour get back some of the Maori seats it lost to the right at the last election. Te Tai Tokerau itself may come back if it’s a three way fiight and the MP and Hone cancel each other out.

    Kinda makes the boastful claim that the Maori party would have double figures in the next parliament sound pretty hollow, aye?

  8. Adolf Fiinkensein 8

    Don’t you fools realise that the foreskins and seaweed act is only the facade? A rubicon has been crossed but you don’y know it.

    You guys created the Maori Party and it is here to stay. Ultimately it will destroy the Labour Party as you knew it because it represents the vision of forward looking Maori rather than the has-beens who hanker after Harawira and his nineteenth century outlook.

    John Key has ripped your arses out but you haven’t yet realised that you can’t even go take a crap any more.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 8.1

      Gee, being in government 9 years does have a downside.
      The Maori party problem is a problem for Key.
      Remember Labour treated them a last cab on the rank, while Key has moved them into the sleepout

  9. Cactus Kate 9

    “Harawira’s clearly been deeply unhappy with the direction Turia and Sharples have taken the party”.

    I think the bigger issue is that Turia and Sharples are deeply unhappy with the way the other has taken the party. Clearly there is absolutely no unity between them.

  10. dan 10

    I am sad that Harawira has painted himself into this corner. He has the anti-Helen gang in the MP who want the NACT coalition to work; he has FPP gang who want to discredit MMP.
    I was not too impressed with his language but it is the patois of the street and most rap music over recent times. The notion of racism, however, comes through, for if I was to use the same language in reverse, I would have been pilloried left right and centre.
    The Paris trip is a non-issue. It reflects poor planning. Hone deserves a trip outside his official capacity, but it could have been done better with more forethought.

    Outcome: unclear. But let’s us not let Hide sneek away from his hypocrisy!

  11. deemac 11

    what evidence is there that HH has any interest in building a Maori working class platform? The left continually invests these chancers (I’m thinking of George Galloway MP in the UK for example) with aspirations they simply don’t possess. What a socialist would do with his sort of political clout (build a fighting grass roots organisation) and what he will likely do in reality (eg build a celebrity profile in the media) are two very different things.

  12. tsmithfield 12

    From the article above “They see this as their opportunity to get rid of a thorn in their side as they throw in their lot with big business and the political right.”

    I find it astounding that this attitude is prevalent from those on the left. It seems that the implicit assumption is something like “how dare the MP have anything to do with any party other than Labour”. This smacks of blatant condescending arrogance, and is undoubtably part of the reason that the MP decided to go with National in the first place. Along with the F&S bill of course.

    Also, remember that there was no pressure or necessity for the MP to go with National at all. Rather, they did so to have greater influence with the governing party for the benefit of their people. That is just smart politics on their part.

    The MP has shown much greater political smarts than the Greens which seem to want to be confined to the side-lines because they want to isolate themselves on the extreme left thus weakening their negotiating position considerably.

  13. Anne 13

    You’re talking bullshit tsmithfield. They went with National because they wanted to be part of the so-called elite. They have done bugger-all for ordinary working class Maori. So far, they have caved in on every issue that’s come up. What about the Queen St.hikoi in June? I was there. Full of bluster they were… What happened? They caved in over the Maori seats at the first hurdle. So far, they have been all talk and little action. I’m not surprised Hone Harawira finally lost his cool. In saying
    that, I don’t condone his behaviour in any way. But I understand how it came about.

    • Lew 13.1

      Finally? It’s only been a year!

      Honestly, just because the māori party are more patient than an old-school radical and a bunch of commie hotheads, you think they’ve sold decades of their own political credibility and activism, and a century and a half of long-suffering, good-faith negotiative tradition down the river?

      Self-serving indeed. Schadenfreude is unbecoming among the left, who claim a higher standard.


    • tsmithfield 13.2

      Anne, give up the smarmy, condescending tone towards the MP.

      It is a democracy. The MP can coalesce with any party they like. Get over the fact that Labour is no longer in power, and that they have lost the tug of war for the attention of the MP. Given the back-stabbing the Labour Party engaged in with respect to the F&S act that National is repealing, it should come as little surprise to Labour if the MP never wants to deal with them again.

      • mickysavage 13.2.1


        You have very unusual views on things.

        The MP have the right to associate with the NP. I do not know why, every policy decision I have seen suggests that this is a very bad decision.

        Please let us know what your view of the F&S Act was.

        The rednecks have continuously berated Labour for not being sensitive enough but you guys wanted far worse!!!!!

        So tell us, what is your view? What changes do you propose should happen?

        • tsmithfield


          My view is that Maori should be able to have their property rights tested in court, like anyone else.

          • Pascal's bookie

            Enough that you voted that way? Or was it of less importance than Tax Cutz?

          • ghostwhowalksnz

            So they can say the Pakeha justice system stole it from them instead.

            If it goes the other way, a proportion of Maori will start the occupation, not of the beaches, but reclaimed land like say Auckland Airport

    • Good comment Anne.

      Lew, I am struggling. There is this habit amongst the left to subject each of our views to the most intense analysis and the most in depth criticism. In blogs this does not work.

      You are in the far left position that if another view is not as radical as yours it is a sellout.

      Anne was pointing out that the MP position was philosophically untenable. You are (I think) saying that it is untenable but also that the Labour Party position is also untenable therefore they are both undeserving and the Maori Party should wait.

      For what?

      How about you analyse how ordinary Maori survive under Labour and how they survive under National and then make the call?

      Schadenfreude is not a word to use when you want to analyse how Maori are doing..

      • Lew 13.3.1


        So much wrong with this comment.

        There is this habit amongst the left to subject each of our views to the most intense analysis and the most in depth criticism.

        One of the problems with the NZ left at present is that this isn’t happening adequately within the left, but is instead being shifted to those nominated temporarily as being part of “the right” for the purposes of criticism.

        You are in the far left position that if another view is not as radical as yours it is a sellout.

        This couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m in the position that ‘sellout’ is predominantly a label applied by the radicals to the non-radicals to make the radicals feel better about being ineffectual in politics.

        Anne was pointing out that the MP position was philosophically untenable. You are (I think) saying that it is untenable but also that the Labour Party position is also untenable therefore they are both undeserving and the Maori Party should wait.

        I don’t think it’s untenable; I think it needs time to be worked out. It’s a very straightforward position: tactical sacrifices for strategic gains, the electorate decides every three years whether the conduct matches the principle and votes accordingly. Anne’s argument (like those of most of the economic left) begins from a fundamental misconception as to what the philosophical basis of the māori party is. Hint: it’s not revolutionary socialism with ta moko.

        For what?

        Can’t you imagine anything? The Foreshore and Seabed is one thing, and the major tangible outcome upon which they will be judged. But the long-term strategic plan (as I’ve said dozens of times) is normalising kaupapa māori politics and putting Māori into a position where they can be a meaningful treaty partner with the skills and resources and political competence to build a long-term programme of policy which will work for Māori.

        How about you analyse how ordinary Maori survive under Labour and how they survive under National and then make the call?

        It’s not just about bare survival, which is all Māori stand to get voting directly for Labour or National in the post-Brash, post-Clark time-to-move-on era. Many ‘ordinary Māori’ believe that their policy needs are more than what can be provided by a eurocentric economic class-based analysis, and that they want a kaupapa Māori politics. Of necessity this kaupapa Māori political philosophy needs to work within existing structures, and previously the alignment with Labour was clear. But Foreshore and Seabed changed all that — it’s not so clear any more. This isn’t to draw a false equality between the two, only an observation that positive change (such as from National under Key) should be encouraged and rewarded, and negative change (such as under Clark in her latter years) should be discouraged and punished.

        Schadenfreude is not a word to use when you want to analyse how Maori are doing.

        I use the word because much of the response from the more intransigent segments of the economic left is along the lines of “Yuss! They failed! Just like we said they would, now the Māoris will have no choice but to come crawling back to Labour!” For one thing, it’s too early to call time; for another thing, that’s hardly the way toward partnership.


    • Jared 13.4

      The Maori Party didn’t really have an option. They could have stuck to their laurels and ignored National, sided with Labour and achieved nothing, like the last 9 years, or they could side with National and actually get some of their policy passed. Hone was just acting ignorant over the fact that he was caught out, it wasn’t a disagreement over the Maori Party’s ties with National. He acted like a condescending racial bigot, nothing more, nothing less. When you harbour such a chip on your shoulder, its hard to move forward.

  14. Brett 14

    Have you ever had any dealings with working class Maori?

  15. dave 15

    Harawira is the leader of the anti-Helen gang, the leader of the anti-Key gang, soon to be the leader of the anti-Turia gang. Roll on the by-election and Harawira can form his own gang with Winston Peters!

  16. John Dalley 16

    Anyone see the irony.
    Helen Clark – Tariana Turia
    Tariana – Hone
    De Javu i would suggest.

  17. John Dalley

    Good point, bad spelling.

    Perhaps The Standard could enlighten us on the reason why H1 and H2 treated Turia like a whore with herpes in a brothel. And I’m guessing it had nothing to do with the Foreshore Bill…..H1 and 2 are both far too {cringe} smart for that.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 17.1

      Two words . Foreshore Seabed.!
      A fundamental policy difference. The Maori wanted something Labour couldnt give.
      Of course National was 3 leaders later and had suddenly more ‘relaxed’ than the hardline English and Brash approach

  18. barry 18

    ITs a load of dribble to talk about Hones ‘people’ as being working class versus the bosses. That sort of divide has long gone. If you want go donw that divide its really the ‘unemployed’ versus the rest. In fact most are unemployable.

    The truth is the real divide is the treaty. Its those who think the treaty and all that goes with it will lift them out of their miserable state versus those who know that it is not a miracle provider. Hone and his group think that the treaty will solve it all and if you protest enough then you will get what you want. Trouble with that is you have to live in a state of self pity AND the treaty will never solve the problem of this self impose misery.

    The mainstream of the party has realised that you have to positively participate in life to get anywhere. Screaming from the sidelines (as in Hone) just pisses everyone off and people look elswhere for things to care about.
    I used to think the the maori party would split over tribal hatred – but I suspect there are enough of them that now realise that there is good in sticking together. Trouble is the treaty is all based on tribal rights – and thats not good. Theyre not out of the woods yet, but kicking the screamers out is a good start.

  19. Alan 19

    Hone does not represent the Maori working class. He represents the Maori bludgers = ‘beneficiary’ class.


  20. gobsmacked 20

    What the Maori Party may or may not stand for in terms of policy is all very debatable, but I’m afraid it’s going to become increasingly irrelevant.

    If the party hierarchy move to expel Harawira, they are guaranteeing negative headlines for a very long time. There’s the long drawn out constitutional process, people in Maoridom taking sides, the arguments through the media, the possible creation of a martyr, the ratcheting up of the language used, accusations and counter-accusations, maybe a by-election, maybe a new party, and much more.

    I hate to sound like an old fart, but it’s a familiar narrative … Anderton, Peters, Tight Five, Turia, etc. Lots of stories about personalities – not about issues. The media will love it. I doubt that Maori Party voters will feel the same way.

  21. Anne 21

    @ Lew

    “Anne’s arguement (like those of most of the economic left) begins from a fundamental misconception as to what the philosophical basis of the Maori party is”
    What condescending rot. You know nothing of my political beliefs, and probably only marginally more about that of the “Maori Party”.

    Yeah, I can just see the ‘ordinary maori’ at the local freezing works discussing the vexed question… “that their policy needs are more than what can be provided by a eurocentric economic class-based analysis…”.

    Get down off your high horse. Most of us don’t have your eloquent turn of phrase (some may prefer to call it academic garbage) but many of us have more political knowledge and experience under our belts than you seem to have.

  22. Lew 22

    Anne, I don’t presume to talk about you or your political beliefs, only about what you said. It is a very familiar refrain around these parts, made up of roughly equal measures orthodox Marxist idiocy, the wishful thinking of one-nation worker solidarity, and the bitterness of being jilted by a segment of the electorate the left thought it had a right to.

    As for not knowing anything about the māori party — it seems you’re new around here. As it happens I’ve done a fair bit of research over the past few years into their political philosophy, their background and their position in NZ politics, and in particular I’ve rebutted this particularly stupid line of reasoning repeatedly — you can read some of it if you like.

    As to the ‘ordinary Māori’ — I accept that they’re not discussing the matter in such words, but anyone who’s been paying any attention at all to NZ politics since Orewa has noticed that many of them are saying things like ‘we can’t trust either of these packs of white mofos, and it’s time to find our own way’. That’s what the tino rangatiratanga movement is about — Māori making their own political moves rather than granting their voices by proxy to others who have different and frequently conflicting interests.


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