Maori Party won’t take Key’s F&S deal

Written By: - Date published: 1:34 am, June 12th, 2010 - 42 comments
Categories: foreshore and seabed, Maori Issues, maori party - Tags: , ,

‘We don’t know if we can support this

It’s a very delicate title for the Maori Party’s press release on National’s foreshore and seabed offer but it reveals much. On the one hand, they know they can’t accept a deal that doesn’t give title to iwi. On the other hand, the co-leaders really don’t want to leave government.

It’s very telling that the Maori Party’s press release said “the caucus” doesn’t think it can accept Key’s offer and Te Ururoa Flavell fronted for the media calling Key’s deal “a bridge too far”. Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples haven’t stated their personal views. The press release pleas for Key to meet with the Iwi Leadership Group: “We have got to a point where it is critical that the Prime Minister hear directly from the iwi leaders”. As if their positions can magically be made reconcilable is a sign of desperation, is a prayer that the inevitable can be avoided.

This is obviously very difficult for the Maori Party’s co-leaders.

By making them ministers, Key very cleverly co-opted Turia and Sharples. They have given his government an illusion of centrism and allowed him to play one coalition partner against the other. He has also made it very difficult for the Turia and Sharples to walk away. Leaving the government means a pay cut and a loss of power, and losing what little ‘wins’ they have gained, like Whanau Ora. All Key loses is a partner that was becoming a liability with his base anyway.

The backbenchers, especially Hone Harawira, are obviously pushing hard for the Party to stand true to its principles.

Which is why they should never have gone into the deal in the first place.

But there’s no option for the Maori Party here. They can’t get the deal they want from National. They can’t buy into a deal that fails to meet their basic objectives on their key issue. They can’t stay in government after failing to make a deal because the relationship would be all give for no gain.

42 comments on “Maori Party won’t take Key’s F&S deal”

  1. I have to say, the inevitability of it all is quite depressing, like watching a slow moving train wreck. At least when Winnie and NZ First sold out to National in the ’96 election it was theatric – while against his own personal stance (given the history) – the decision wasn’t a complete anathema to his base. This. This is just a mess.

  2. Jenny 2

    Which is why they should never have gone into the deal in the first place.

    Honestly Marty what choice did they have?

    Isn’t it true Marty, that up to now the Labour Party has refused to take the Maori Party seriously? Ruling out any accommodation with them and even infamously seeks to “destroy the Maori Party” and that when it comes to coalition time, the Maori Party are to be considered “the last cab off the rank”.

    Realising that this sectarian stance by Labour was never going to allow the Maori Party any seat at the table, the sectarian stand of the Labour drove the Maori Party into an alliance with National in a hope of getting some gains for their people.

    Despite what some on this site have claimed, (unfairly in my opinion) that “the Maori Party props up the government”, in fact the Maori Party position is far more subtle than that.

    The Maori Party have admitted from the beginning that they would rather have formed a coalition to the left. But realising that, this had been taken off the table, and knowing that National, with Act had the overall majority to rule with, or without them, the Maori Party attempted with some admittedly modest success to turn this no win situation into some gains for their people.

    It seems that things may be changing, As has been shown on this site, Labour the Greens and the Maori Party are currently working together in practice, to build a protest campaign powerful enough to defeat National’s attack on local body democracy.

    • felix 2.1

      What choice did they have? Opposition of course.

      Surely the only honourable choice given that the party oppose most of the government’s policy.

      • Sarge 2.1.1

        To what end?? You don’t tend to acheive much in opposition…….

        • Marty G

          you can stay true to your principles.

          Basically, you guys are saying any political party should back the biggest party… one party state

          • Lew

            Bollocks. What you’re arguing is that every generally-left party should always back Labour, no matter how egregiously Labour screwed them. That breeds impunity and entitlement.


            • The Voice of Reason

              Who’s saying that the Maori Party is any kind of left, Lew? They have been conservative since their formation and willingly chose to go into Government with ACT and their support party, National. I haven’t seen any evidence of them proposing, let alone winning, any left wing policy since taking the keys to the limos. Mind you, they have helped lift the living standards of Maori. Well, five of them, anyway.

              • Lew

                If that’s so, why is the left so cut up that they went into government with National?

                Oh, right. It isn’t so. It’s just more jilted bitterness.


                • Well, I don’t speak for the left, Lew, just from the left. I’m not sure that too many from the left are cut up about the MP’s current position other than those of their supporters who naively thought they were a progressive alternative.

                  It turns out that they aren’t progressive at all, of course, though I hope that in the future they may move leftward, once the ideologically crippled leaders they currently have exited the scene.

                  • Lew

                    Because it’s possible to be progressive without supporting indigenous rights to self-determination?

                    No, it’s not. Sorry about that. Progressivism includes indigenism and opposing racism, just like it includes feminism.


                    • Er, what are you on about, Lew?

                      Of course it’s possible to be progressive without supporting indigenous rights to self determination. It’s a more ‘perfect’ political approach to be progressive on all matters, but a party could be progressive on peace, women’s rights, animal rights, racism and a whole host of other things, without a specific commitment to self determination.

                      A failure or weakness in one specific policy area does not mean that overall a party is not progressive.

                    • Lew

                      I disagree. I think you’d disagree, too, if it were a different issue — such as class, for instance. Can a party be progressive without a commitment to economic justice? If so, how?


              • Jenny

                The Voice of (un)Reason on the Maori Party:

                I haven’t seen any evidence of them proposing, let alone winning, any left wing policy since taking the keys to the limos. Mind you, they have helped lift the living standards of Maori. Well, five of them, anyway.

                Putting aside VOR’s bigoted depiction of Maori Party MPs as self serving opportunists only in parliament for the perks. I will instead point to left wing policy VOR claims that he hasn’t “seen any evidence of them proposing….”.

                However in attempting to do this, I am mindful of the saying that there are none so blind, as those who choose not to see.

                Off the top of my head, (others might like to add more):

                The Maori Party are the main leaders in parliament calling for the removal of GST from healthy food. A Maori Party initiative that Phil Goff says Labour will consider supporting.

                The Maori party also strongly opposed the Three Strikes Law and made a statement that they are prepared to work with any others to remove this law.

                Recently the Maori Party has joined with Labour and the Greens in a protest campaign against National’s attack on Local Body democracy.

                And of course the Maori Party is opposed to the statutory removal of legal and internationally recognised, traditional indigenous people’s customary rights and usage, specifically in New Zealand, around the issue of the seabed and foreshore.

                I challenge any supporter of this enactment to try and justify that this was a left wing move by the last Labour Government.

                VOR if you can stop spewing your irrational sectarian hatred for even 5 minutes maybe you would like to have a go.

                It would also be good if (for a nice change) you refrained from making stuff up and instead supplied some facts or even links to back up your argument.

                • Terrific, Jenny. And things they have actually achieved since being handed the keys to the limos? Other than significantly increasing the incomes of 5 MP’s?

                  And, by the way, I support the left wing party that 30-40% of NZ voters also prefer. I don’t support a race based splinter party, who, by definition, are sectarian. So stop misusing the term and put up some facts about the Maori Party in Government that don’t show them to be either incompetent underachievers or more accurately, pretty damn happy with their bawbees and Beemers.

                  • Jenny

                    VOR in your earlier comment you stated that:

                    I haven’t seen any evidence of them proposing, let alone winning, any left wing policy

                    So I showed you the left wing policy they have proposed.

                    But still you couldn’t see it.

                    Of course you also mentioned “winning” any left wing policy.

                    The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People is one left wing policy that the Maori Party championed and won from a minority position over opposition from within both Labour and National.

                    On the question of GST off food. The Maori Party have managed to move the debate to the left. So much so, that it looks likely that Labour will support Rahui Katene’s private members bill for the removal of GST from healthy food. This also is a win.

                    Getting Labour’s support for the removal of GST off food is far more than just a symbolic win, because by voting for this in opposition, Labour becomes committed to supporting this left wing proposal when they are returned to government. Which I hope will be as soon as possible.

                    The inescapable truth is, that a Labour Greens Maori Party electoral accommodation would be an unbeatable combination.

                    All it requires is a bit of good will and an open mind.

                    VOR, the only reason Labour may not be returned to the treasury benches next year, is, if blind sectarians like you have their way in the Labour Party.

                    This in my opinion would be a disaster.

                    I am of the firm opinion that a second term of National led Government during the continuing W recession will be extremely destructive for this country, and must be avoided if at all possible.

                    VOR as you yourself point out, Labour has the support of “30-40% of NZ voters”, which, without coalition partners is not a majority.

                    To not even consider the Maori Party as a future coalition partner would be irresponsible.

                    When conservative parties like United Future and New Zealand First are considered perfectly acceptable coalition partners by Labour, the question must be asked why is the Maori Party considered by people like you to be beyond the pale?

                    Going on past record, I don’t expect to get any rational explanation from you VOR. But this is still a worthwhile question that needs to be discussed.

            • felix


              All I suggested was that the maori party would be more true to their principles by sitting in opposition to the govt.

              I don’t see this as “backing Labour”.

              Frankly, it’s you who seems a little bitter this morning.

              • Lew

                My response wasn’t to you, Felix, because while I disagree with your view (I don’t think going into government in and of itself was contrary to the māori party’s principles, and I think anyone who claims it is just doesn’t understand those principles very well), it’s an arguable position. I was reversing Marty’s idiotic reductive “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” generalisation.


        • ghostwhowalksnz

          Thats why its called ‘opposition’ Duhhh

        • Jenny

          To what end?? You don’t tend to acheive much in opposition .

          I agree with what you are saying, here Sarge.

          Effectively because of Labour’s opinion of the Maori Party, Felix is not just asking the Maori Party to go into opposition, but effectively, to go into opposition permanently, no matter which ever of the two major parties holds the Treasury benches.

          As this would be rather pointless.

          As you asked, the question is, “To what end??”

          Maybe some Labour Party supporters who want to continue the policy of snubbing the Maori Party might like to answer?

          How about you, Voice of Unreason?

          • felix

            Um, not permanently. Just while they, you know, oppose the govt.

          • Lew

            But Jenny, they were just overreacting about the FSA. They should have realised that it was just the tough-love of realpolitik, it was for their own good really, and if they’d just sucked it up like good little subalterns in the knowledge that the master would eventually throw a few scraps down to even up the ledger, the world would have been at rights.


      • Lew 2.1.2

        The crucial thing was to demonstrate their independence from Labour. They did that — it’s the reason why most of the folk around here hate and revile them (when they’re not pretending pity and regret, of course). They were clear from the beginning that they would work in good faith with the FSA repeal and replacement with something more agreeable as the medium-term goal, and now — supposing they do in fact walk away — they’ll be able to do so having done what they said they’d come to do. Not to succeed in that goal, since that was never within their control — but to push hard for it against a party which only a few years ago declared the FSA too generous.

        As long as they do walk away, they can do so with heads held pretty high. They gave the government no reason to renege on the agreement to work in good faith, and yet, renege they did. Can’t do much about that. National’s bad faith toward tangata whenua may have been inevitable, but now it’s proven, and it won’t soon be forgotten.

        And as Sarge says, they’d have gotten nothing in opposition, and demonstrated that Labour treat them like shite with impunity. There’s no mana in that.


        • Marty G

          The crucial thing was to demonstrate their independence from Labour.” it’s like a teenager getting into drugs to teach their parents a lesson.

          It’s nothing praiseworthy.

          and don’t you accuse me of only pretending regret. my regret is genuine.

          if they walk away, they will do so having given away so much and got bugger all back. and they will be admitting they were wrong all along.

          and don’t you fall into this ‘always back the govt” authoritarian bullshit

          • Lew

            At least now Labour will get the message — hopefully, anyway — that they can’t crap all over their oldest and most loyal voting bloc without consequences. By the same token, the full extent of National’s poor faith is also crystal clear — I think that’s a result everyone can be happy with.

            I don’t think they should always back the government — only to the extent where it is compatible with their principles or where there’s a chance of achieving a major policy concession. That was previously the case, is no longer the case, and now I’m calling for them to walk away just as strongly as you are. That’s the difference: regardless of what might have been possible, you think they should have foregone it and sided with Labour on ideological and historical loyalty grounds. I don’t. That’s what I mean by independence.


            • Marty G

              “That’s the difference: regardless of what might have been possible, you think they should have foregone it and sided with Labour on ideological and historical loyalty grounds. ”

              no, lew. I didn’t think they should take the deal because I could see this future. Everyone could but those in lalaland.

  3. Ron 3

    It wasn’t so much that Labour wouldn’t take MP seriously. There was a huge level of antagonism between them – specially Tariana and Helen. It turns out this partly because Tariana is essentially a Tory.
    Also (though I think Labour were gutless about this) whenever Labour did anything that smacked of pandering to Maori, a racist National opposition used it to good effect – mobilising the racist heartland very effectively.
    IF Laour had included the MP in government we never would have heard the end of it. Whanau Ora? Special rules for kura kaupapa? Can you imagine National’s response to those initiatives?
    I think it was politically untenable for Labour to include the MP in government and it points to the cynical racism of National that they did.

  4. Not sure that I agree that they can’t stay in Government, Marty. What reason do they have to leave? The Nats have followed the agreement to the letter, given them their ‘review’ of the F&S Act and even though the review has predictably turned out badly for the Maori Party, it is still not an excuse to break their word.

    Whatever they do, this shows up the Maori Party MP’s as naive at best, useful idiots at worse. It’s all mana reduction from here on in.

  5. Fisiani 5

    The National Government is hororably offering to Repeal the F+S Act , give up government ownership and make the land public domain and restore to Maori the opportunity to test any claims to ownership in the Courts.
    This would give the Maori Party their founding aim.
    Any reasonable person would accept.

    • Marty G 5.1

      iwi can’t get title under National’s offer. Public domain is crown ownership in drag.

    • felix 5.2


      Freudian slip? 😉

    • ghostwhowalksnz 5.3

      So 12000 other titles for the foreshore are OK ( mostly pakeha or business), but Maori become a special class who cant get it.?
      Who is ‘honourable’ that offers such a deal?

      • Tiger Mountain 5.3.1

        So true Ghost, there are literally hundreds of such titles on peninsulas and beach front properties all around Northland, no go zones for Maori and pakeha alike, gated and fenced by the sometimes overseas based owners.

    • ianmac 5.4

      No claims of “ownership” are even considered. Maybe customary rights which is available now.

  6. Craig Glen Eden 6

    The Maori Party have some pretty deep divisions at present and I think it will only be with the retiring of Tariana that this Party will be able to move forward and align itself with Parties on the left.
    Maori politics is very complicated and very personal. Ron’s comment is correct (See above) and as a result Tariana has actively caused division between Labour and the Maori Party. Tariana is a Tory, this is why she never fitted in Labours ranks. At the time she entered politics she had no other strong vehicle for her to get to power, she went with Labour because that was her best vehicle at the time. National would certainly not of had anything to do with her. Many Maori gave this Party a chance but I think the Maori Party will have their work cut out for them in the next election.
    For this Party to have any chance of survival Tariana will have to go she is not popular in her own Parties base out side of the Whanganui Region. Interesting times ahead for the Maori Party I think the Seabed and foreshore issue will prove a double edged sword for Tariana.

  7. ghostwhowalksnz 7

    Reading the MP press release, the MP are throwing up their hands, asking for a face to face meeting with Key.

    You an’t getting it.
    Key is the salesman, sell the sizzle and then leave it to the hard faced bastards to trap you in the fine print.

    There is no way he will meet with this Iwi leadership group. Not. Ever.
    treat them as equals ?
    Letterman yes . Maori No

    You can almost feel their desperation, hiding behind a door , saying we have done all we were asked, now its up to ( insert scapegoat here) to take it further. Anyway the BMW is waiting to take me to ( insert minor function here).
    Foreshore & seabed is MP signature issue ??

  8. ianmac 8

    As a sometimes viewer of Maori Television, I have watched recent interviews with leaders saying that Public Ownership is going to be Ok. From that small step comes gradual improvement to “title” and thence to commercial operations like aquaculture. Small steps but forward.
    This may not be the falling out of Nat v MP at all.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 8.1

      Its a good negotiation tactic to say we are walking away.
      But while the MP may say yes, the iwi ( its ‘their’ foreshore) are putting a line in the sand as they do seem to not be able to get what private title all ready have.
      The reality is Nationals first offer is Crown ownership with a bone carving necklace wrapped around it. Next up they will offer muskets and blankets to go with it.

  9. J Mex 9

    “The reality is Nationals first offer is Crown ownership with a bone carving necklace wrapped around it. Next up they will offer muskets and blankets to go with it.”

    The problem for Labour is that their first offer to the MP was an extended middle finger.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.1

      Yeah. They didnt get them into government on a promise of a ‘new’ deal either. At least MP knew where they stood. The iwi groups can see now where MP support gets them . SFA as Turia wont walk away

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