One of the few bright spots for Labour in the election was the renewed support of Maori. Labour now holds 6 of the 7 Maori seats. Only Waiariki was retained for the Maori Party by co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell. Combined with a party vote of just 1.3% it seems clear that the Maori Party has failed to convince Maori that it represents their interests. This should hardly come as a surprise – poll after poll showed that the Maori electorate wanted the party to align with Labour, election after election they aligned with National.
Personally distressing as this must be for the Maori Party founders, Tariana Turia’s angry outburst in a recent speech probably hasn’t done the Maori Party any favours, and has drawn a critical response:
Turia ‘beaten wives’ speech angers
Labour MP Kelvin Davis has come out swinging against outgoing Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, who likened Maori who voted Labour to “beaten wives” going back to their husbands. …
[Turia] quoted a Facebook post made by one her family members, which said:
“Maori will never learn. Like a beaten wife they go back for more, believing they can’t do without that particular partner. Either way Maori are again the biggest losers in a democratic system. Politics should be a must for mokopuna to learn through the education system if we are ever to see through the muddy waters of fear and lies.”
But Te Tai Tokerau and Labour MP Kelvin Davis has slammed the comment. “It’s really inappropriate to undermine the issue of domestic violence,” he said. Turia was “understandably smarting” at the Maori Party’s loss of votes this election, but she needed to “stay classy”. … “I don’t think it does anything for the fight against domestic violence.”
Turia was not immediately available for comment, but further along in her speech acknowledged it was a controversial statement.
What now for the Maori Party?
One goal for Labour in the Maori electorates should be to engage with and raise the participation of Maori in the electoral process. As Turia also pointed out “45 percent of Maori failed to even make it to the ballot box”. That is a huge concern. Every political party should be asking themselves why so many Maori, and so many Kiwis in general, choose not to vote.