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Maori support for Labour

Written By: - Date published: 10:25 am, October 1st, 2014 - 56 comments
Categories: labour, maori party, Maori seats - Tags: ,

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.

56 comments on “Maori support for Labour ”

  1. BM 1

    Turia is right, Fucks knows why Maori keep voting Labour.

    The only thing I can think of is that Maori unionists are very active within the various marae organisations making sure every one votes labour.

    Because lets be honest, comparing Labour to National, Maori have achieved bugger all with labour.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      But, one can be sure that any Labour government will do more in co-operation with the Maori Party (and/or Mana) than could be achieved between those parties and National.

      • Roflcopter 1.1.1

        Really? How does that come about when you’re told you’re the last cab off the rank?

        • Lanthanide

          2005 was almost 10 years ago.

          • Roflcopter

            With a Labour Party in 2014 full of the same people as in 2005… and a 2014 election comment that no deal would be done with the Māori Party.

            • Lanthanide

              “and a 2014 election comment that no deal would be done with the Māori Party.”

              Largely, I suspect, because Winston Peters ruled it out. Had National required Winston to form a government, it would have been the same situation for the MP then as well.

    • DoublePlus Good 1.2

      Only wealthy tribal elites do well out of the Maori party’s involvement with National. The rest are better served by the left.

      • swordfish 1.2.1

        Yep. The Maori Party has simply been a vehicle for delivering a whole swathe of Labour-preferring Maori voters to the National Party.

    • Chris 1.3

      What’s the bet National will abolish the Maori seats?

      • boldsirbrian 1.3.1

        @ Chris (1.3)

        Not a chance. Little incentive. Would be seen as anti-Maori. Dirty John is many things but could work this out easily.

        However, that may become part of the agenda, if Labour became smarter about the Maori seats. Did a deal, giving the electorate seats to a friendly coalition Party, in exchange for the Party votes.. Potentially a lot of extra seats for a smart Left coalition. Dirty John and his mate Whaleoil would quickly come up with a different narrative.

        • Chris

          It was National’s policy to do that possibly as late as 2008. For National it’s a matter of time.

    • I thought those on the right have been criticising analyses that suggest that voters don’t know what is in their best interests?

      • swordfish 1.4.1

        Yep. And after a good deal of highly-sophisticated theorising and elaborate conjecture, BM’s come up with an ingenious analytical framework that seeks to understand the complexities of the Maori vote through the nuanced prism of: A bunch of aggressive Maori Trade Unionists strong-arm everyone on the Marae in to voting Labour.

    • Foreign Waka 1.5

      It is not Maori but the upper hierarchy of Maori that leans towards national. This should not come as a surprise. It is in the Maori Hierarchy interest to do so as a tribal structure feed all funds upwards. This is very similar to the way National designs its polices. Look at the statistics. After 6 years of that great relationship Maori kids are the greatest proportion of the poorest in the country. All the funds that were received and National has boasted about its great record, the situation has worsened. Why would that be?

    • Murray Olsen 1.6

      Great post, BM. It shows that you don’t have a clue about the history of our country and almost everything you think you know comes from Whalespew. It’s pretty obvious why hardly any of them still vote for the Maori Party, given its subservience to NAct.

  2. DoublePlus Good 2

    The 7 Maori seats averaged around 18000 votes. By contrast, Mangere, Manukau East and Manurewa had around 22000 votes, Kelston was around 26000, and all others were in the 28000-35000 range.

    If turnout was another 10,000 in each of the 10 electorates with the worst turnout (so they’d roughly match the low end of other electorates), and those extra votes mirrored the result in those 10 electorates, that’s something like 70,000 extra votes for Labour, Greens, NZ First and Mana compared to 30,000 for Maori party and National.
    A very rough calculation indicates that to be something like +1.2% for the left, which could be enough that National would not have an absolute majority and would need to rely on Peter Dunne, David Seymour and the two Maori party candidates to form a government.
    If the two Maori party candidates weren’t there and Mana was in parliament because Labour had shown some semblance of understanding of how to MMP, then at a stretch even a Labour-led government could have been formed.

    So Labour focussing on increasing turnout in the Maori electorates and in South Auckland could pay off in a huge way.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      So Cunliffe’s idea of a Maori deputy (or co-deputy?) is a pragmatic approach.

    • lprent 2.3

      There are programs to do exactly that. They are based around neighbourhood level efforts so are pretty slow to expand. But they do seem to be working. Needless to say that they seem to be largely run without much party level support.

  3. Tariana’s choice of words was unfortunate and the analogy doesn’t really work for me but the sentiment is correct imo. The ‘bright spot’ for labour is a dark spot for tangata whenua but as they voted so shall they reapith. As for kd – his true colours will come out soon enough and mark my words they won’t be any hue of red.

  4. Ant 4

    I can get what Tariana is saying, but the Māori Party failed to live up to its potential, and also failed to articulate what real gains it was making for Māori in return for legitimising National and Key.

    Personally, I voted for Peeni although I would have preferred Rangi sans the Māori Party. (not to take anything away from Peeni because he seems like he will still be good).

    I still hope Mana and the Māori Party can reconcile at some point.

  5. Used to be a socialist 5

    Maori party were excluded by Clarke, they were invited into the tent by John Key. The old saying it is better in the tent pissing out than out of the tent trying to piss in. Thus Flavell is right, his choice is to be in Government all the time no matter if Labour or National win. Maori in general who voted for Labour are now outside the tent with no say of what is going on or what to do. I can’t put it simpler than “it is better to have some influence than none at all”!

    [lprent: BTW tagging you as a probable troll. The misspelling of Clark is symptomatic. You will be on moderation for some time until you can convince me that sufficient intelligence to participate in the debate lurks behind such a stupid interior. ]

    • lprent 5.1

      Perhaps you should also point out that the Maori party are going rapidly backwards electorally in the clutches of National. From the wikipedia page.

      Election # of candidates nominated (electorate/list) # of seats won # of party votes  % of popular vote
      42 / 51

      4 / 121
      7 / 19

      5 / 122

      11 / 17

      3 / 121
      24 / 24

      2 / 121


      It rather looks to me as if the only thing that kept Flavell in his seat this time around was the split between Labour and the Mana party. They are widely regarded as being the party of the Iwi corporates, including by many of those who support them.

      • Kiwiri 5.1.1

        Labour (sans Davis) and Mana should have had a chat about a progressive arrangement to enhance representation in Parliament:

        Labour would campaign for the party, not electorate, vote in TTT.

        In turn, Mana would campaign for the party, not electorate, vote in Waiariki.

        • lprent

          There is a basic issue with these kinds of deals. The experience of getting *dependent* on the largess of a larger party in NZ (and offshore) for sweetheart deals is that they appear to lead to the most dependent party dying over time.

          For long-term survival, parties need to be able to win their electorates and/or party vote. If they can’t then they should merge or die.

          In NZ the resilience of both NZ First and the Greens is due to them building a constituency and then retaining and building on it. Admittedly NZ First had to do that several times 🙂

          • SPC

            Labour only won this seat because of the National and NZ First vote for Davis.

            It is Davis who is the dependent.

      • The Lone Haranguer 5.1.2

        Lynn, you are correct that the Maori Party are getting eaten alive electorally, by being in bed with the Nats. And it would be a very accurate summary of the ACT story too – they did okay till they got around the Cabinet table.

        And looking back further in time, the small parties that took seats around the Cabinet table with the Clark led Labour government didnt fare much better really, largely because they lose their identity and the big party seems keen to hoover up their voters over time.

        Even Winston had three years in the wilderness.

        Both of the big parties think and act in a very FPP kind of way. I guess its in their blood.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2


      Before LBJ’s famous remark about J. Edgar Hoover gets mangled any further let’s remember what he actually said: “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”

  6. Jay 6

    I very much agree with Mrs Turia. Sit in opposition, achieve little. Sit in government, achieve more. And the more seats you have, the more you achieve. Instead of five mps in government for the next three years they have two, with them languishing in opposition. What’s the point. Why not just for coalitions with whoever each election? It’s a no brainer.

    • DoublePlus Good 6.1

      “Achieve more” in this case means making some cosmetic improvements that look like you are doing something for Maori while you prop up a government that is making things dramatically worse for Maori.

      • boldsirbrian 6.1.1

        Remember it was the Labour Party who unnecessarily rejected the Maori Party before the Election. NOT the other way around. There could possibly have been a result where the Maori Party could have been the kingmakers. And in that situation may have chosen Labour. Labour do need to learn about MMP.

        The Maori Party is not propping the Government up at the moment. They had the choice of being in Opposition, alongside an unfriendly Labour Party, or achieving some limited goals within Government. I cant say I blame them.

        Would they have fared any better staying on the Left of politics? Doesn’t seem likely, based on how Labour treated Mana. Labour was just as happy to rub Mana’s face into the ground. It’s almost as if Labour were campaigning for extra votes from the Greens and Mana, and not so concerned about attracting votes away from Dirty John.

        Labour actively opposed both the Maori Party and the Mana Party. What I read from that, is that Labour are far more interested in the power achieved from the Maori seats than they re about making things dramatically better for Maori. How little things seem to have changed from when Helen Clark contemptuously treated Maori concerns.

        What Mana policies do Labour actually object to? Is there something dreadfully wrong with Hone Harawira’s concerns with poverty? Because if there isn’t, Labour should go back to classes in MMP 101, and work WITH Hone. Let Mana have two or three electorate seats (Mana have some excellent candidates), and in return campaign for the Party vote in those electorates. Labour have done it before with Anderton; Dirty John is doing it with Seymour and Dunne. It’s not rocket science.

        Remember it was Cunliffe (the darling of the so called left of Labour) who appeared to find Mana’s Poverty and Justice concerns so objectionable. Things get very topsy turvey in politics sometimes. I could perhaps have more faith in poverty concerns from the so called “nasty neoliberal rightists” of Labour. Even Dirty John is sensing a gap in this policy area, and is craftily attempting to drive a wedge into this area (or at least appear to be doing so)

        There is the opportunity for Labour to show that they have won the Maori seats and are willing to treat the seats with respect. Time will tell.

        These will be the issues that I will taking into account, before I cast my vote for Labour Leader in the next few weeks.

        I don’t give a damn whether the candidates are left/right; up/down; or east/west. I don’t give a damn whether the candidates are neo-liberal or neo-communist or neo-Burger-King, which seem to be the concerns of far too many people on this blog.

        Where do the candidates stand, but more importantly what will they do, for poverty, for inequality, for employment, for fairness, for justice, for the environment, for science, for the arts and leisure, and last but not least for prosperity?

        • Colonial Viper

          fair and broad ranging criticisms. Labour’s extinguishing of potential allies and cross party partnerships even as its own clarity of purpose and party vote declines further, has done no one on the ‘Left’ any favours.

          I’m still pissed off that we lost Hone and Laila, and got bloody Kelvin Davis, yet another future Labour leader to be, instead. National on the other hand actually get MMP, and keeps its useful pets around so it can get political cover for ever more ridiculous and damaging policies.

        • Lanthanide

          “Remember it was the Labour Party who unnecessarily rejected the Maori Party before the Election.”

          Actually it was NZFirst. Labour clearly needed NZFirst to form a government, so had to echo his comments. National also could have been in exactly the same position.

          “There could possibly have been a result where the Maori Party could have been the kingmakers. And in that situation may have chosen Labour. Labour do need to learn about MMP.”
          It would be incredibly unlikely that the MP could be a in kingmaker position that was not eclipsed by NZFirst.

          “Remember it was Cunliffe (the darling of the so called left of Labour) who appeared to find Mana’s Poverty and Justice concerns so objectionable. ”

          No, it was the public who found Mana, and more importantly Kim Dotcom, so objectionable, and Cunliffe tried to distance Labour from them so as not to completely turn off “middle NZ”, whose votes they need in order to win the election (as was clearly demonstrated by their loss).

          • boldsirbrian

            @ Lanthanide (

            “Remember it was the Labour Party who unnecessarily rejected the Maori Party before the Election.”

            Actually it was NZFirst. Labour clearly needed NZFirst to form a government, so had to echo his comments. National also could have been in exactly the same position.

            Labour did not “have” to do anything of the sort. Labour did what it did because it wanted to. For a start,
            (1) I heard no demand from NZFirst to do so;
            (2) I heard no agreement that NZFirst would go into coalition with Labour on the condition that the Maori party were snubbed and
            (3) I heard NZFirst say nothing else than they would wait and see what the result of the election was before negotiating
            (4) Far more importantly I do not accept that Labour has to sell it’s soul to gain power. Labour should do what is right. If what you say is true that Labour was simply treating Winston Peters as their Master, their politics have slipped to an all time low. ……


            “There could possibly have been a result where the Maori Party could have been the kingmakers. And in that situation may have chosen Labour. Labour do need to learn about MMP.”
            It would be incredibly unlikely that the MP could be a in kingmaker position that was not eclipsed by NZFirst.

            Of course it would have been unlikely. But when should principles be compromised by how likely something is to happen?

            “I’m going to dangle this block of concrete above your head. But that’s ok, because there is only a one in a million chance of the rope breaking…. OK?


            “Remember it was Cunliffe (the darling of the so called left of Labour) who appeared to find Mana’s Poverty and Justice concerns so objectionable. ”

            No, it was the public who found Mana, and more importantly Kim Dotcom, so objectionable, and Cunliffe tried to distance Labour from them so as not to completely turn off “middle NZ”, whose votes they need in order to win the election (as was clearly demonstrated by their loss).

            For a start they were distanced from Mana and the Internet Parties in exactly the same way that National was distanced from the minor parties on the right. They were different parties. At the very worst, Labour could have treated Mana in exactly the same way as National treated the Conservatives – by keeping a button on the lips.

            Labour chose to react to the story that was the making of Dirty John, and in knee jerk reaction in vilifying Mana themselves, Labour set the “objectionable” story about Mana for the public as much as Dirty John was responsible. Labour chose to let Dirty John set the agenda. Dirty John in contrast, astute politician, maintained his own position for his far more lunatic (potential) partners on the far right.

            Pray tell in what way was the Mana-Internet Party so objectionable? They were certainly objectionable to Dirty John…. as there were potentially two or three or even four seats that he might not receive. But I’m not aware of a whole lot of policies that they were promoting that the Left could not have embraced. What was objectionable about Mana’s main plank of fighting poverty; promoting justice?

            What was objectionable about Dotcom? His weight? His country of origin? The fact that he had a criminal conviction? The fact that he was rich? They are all smears…. We have had plenty of obese politicians. Dotcom’s wealth was achieved in almost an exact parallel way that Dirty John himself became wealthy. Germans have a wonderful reputation in New Zealand … World War 2 started 75 years ago! There are plenty of politicians who have had a past that included a criminal conviction.

            Where on Earth did Labour park any sense of fairness and justice over all this? At the first sign of a smear, they panicked, and panicked bad. What they could have done is talked with pride about their own policies, and explained how close and admirably similar the Internet Mana party’s main policies also were. It’s called integrity, and believing in your own party, believing in fairness, believing in justice, and believing in not succumbing to bigotry and ignorance.

            I hope that there is a lesson in there for Labour.

            • Murray Olsen

              You make a lot of sense, Boldsirbrian. I also wonder what role Matt McCarten may have played in distancing Labour from Mana. I certainly didn’t see any evidence of the political genius proclaimed so loudly on The Daily Bog.

              Over the long term I predict that Maori will continue to leave Labour and Labour will continue to take Maori for granted.

              • boldsirbrian

                @ Murray Olsen (

                I don’t know about Matt McCarten’s role. Regardless of the person who thought it up, the buck must stop with David Cunliffe, for implementing the “strategy”

                In the election Maori have “come back to Labour”, with regard to the Maori seats. So Labour do have an opportunity now to not repeat the mistakes of the past. I’m optimistic that Labour will consider this issue well in their review, and not take Maori for granted ??

                It’s sort of a Clayton’s win though with all the Maori seats. A win that is not really a win. They have dealt a king hit to Mana, who could have been a potential valuable MMP partner. That is the part that is the most frustrating, for those wanting a Left victory in the future. The Mana Party is the sort of Party that I could have imagined a smart Labour Party inventing, rather than killing off.

    • Tracey 6.2

      they still get less than ACT… and, arguably, peter dunne.

      4500 people innz voted for dunne.

      ANY suggestion that the MP is getting stuff reflecting their electoral position is a little misguided… less so this time due to drop in party vote, but white middle aged male parties known as act and uf are boxing WAY above their electorate weight.

  7. swordfish 7

    While I agree with the broad thrust, Anthony, you’re possibly being just a tad naughty with your suggestion: “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 implies that the Maori Party only averaged 1.3% across the Maori seats, when, of course, it’s actually the New Zealand-wide figure (and that’s not really all that much down on 2011’s 1.4%). In the Maori seats, the Maori Party’s Election Night Party-Vote ranged from a low of 10.1% to a high of 21.4%.

    Hate to be some sort of self-righteous, holier-than-thou lurgee-type figure, but there you are.

    The reality is: this time around, the Maori Party took a hit in the Candidate-Vote, but not the Party-Vote. They’d taken a major hit in the latter back in 2011.

  8. mikesh 8

    Has Flavell been offered a ministerial role? And if not might this not portend the abolition of the Maori seats?

    • The Lone Haranguer 8.1

      I think thats getting announced next week. No idea why it wasnt announced with the ACT and UF deals tho.

      Key did say, post election, Flavell would probably get Maori affairs

      • Dazzer 8.1.1

        As I understand it, Flavell is undertaking hui around the countryside before agreeing (or not) to the proposal.

  9. Phil 9

    … poll after poll showed that the Maori electorate wanted the party to align with Labour, election after election they aligned with National.

    Incorrect. Poll after poll showed that Maori Party party-voters wanted the MP to align with Labour if the party held the balance of power. They haven’t, and the only post-election choices available to the party have been to support national or be in opposition. Also remember that the post-election hui have supported being in government rather than being in opposition.

  10. SPC 10

    The Maori MP’s are subordinated within the wider Labour caucus and Labour cannot give them anything without compromising itself in the centre.

    Only by having an independent ally can this be avoided, as National does with MP.

    Turia is right. This is the best for Maori.

    Thus Labour could well get out of these electorates and allow a left wing Maori Party as an alternative to the “iwi corporate” MP.

    The one provisio, National would respond to this by getting cold feet about the Maori electorates delivering electorate seats (overhang) to a Labour ally. Thus end support for Maori seats continuing while Maori wanted them to and seek to put this to a wider referendum.

    Having Mana operate (winning one or two of the seats) and compete with Labour is the less than optimum compromise, but it avoids that risk.

  11. Tautoko Viper 11

    Although I was disappointed that Hone lost the Te Tai Tokerau seat and that the split vote Hone/Labour didn’t eventuate, I do see some good signs in the Māori support for Labour. I believe they voted for the social justice policies. If Labour is moved towards the centre, then this support will be withdrawn, along with that of grassroots LEC members.
    The party does not “belong’ to the MPs. The direction of the party will be determined by the people. If an MP finds that direction untenable, then he/she should resign.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      The party does not “belong’ to the MPs. The direction of the party will be determined by the people. If an MP finds that direction untenable, then he/she should resign.

      And that is the entire game, right there, in two sentences.

  12. Used to be a socialist 12

    To Comrade iprent: hit a we nerve did we? To castigate me for spelling Clark’s name is petty. In doing so on such a small matter you missed the big picture altogether!

    [lprent: Just bored with inadequate trolls.

    “used to be a socialist”, misspelling of Clark, and being a stupid jerkoff just scream “RWNJ concern troll” to me. It wasn’t as if you said anything of significance. I’ve seen tens of thousands of similar comments on the site in the past 7 years. So we won’t waste any more time with an such a pathetic troll refugee from 2008. I think even the right wingers on the site will be bored.

    Go back home to blubberboy. Bye bye ]

  13. word 13

    Tariana Turia is showing her true colours, she is behaving like a nasty RWNJ. Turia should know that Maori do not support her Right Wing Maori Party.

    • boldsirbrian 13.1

      @ word (12)

      One thing about Tariana is that she cares much less about right wing and left wing, and is more passionate about policies that will benefit Maori.

      Tariana had a senior position in Labour, and was treated by Labour with contempt. She walked from Labour on a point of principle, even with a high prospect of political oblivion.

      That she formed the Maori Party that has achieved more successes is to her credit. That she has been treated better by the Nats than she was by Labour may annoy Labour supporters, but who can blame the Party?

      I think there may be only one or two MPS (if any) in the whole house who did not have a high respect for Tariana as a politician.

      The landscape has now changed, a decade later. The Maori Party exists; Mana has come and gone, but still not finished; and Labour has, once again, got the majority of Maori seats.

      This should have been a lesson for Labour. Not to stick the knife into your allies. To cherish what you have and not neglect it; and before throwing the barbs, look in the mirror first.

      Labour have an opportunity. They once “owned” the Maori seats. But nothing can be taken for granted. The seats have experimented with Winston First, and the Maori Party. It’s time for Labour to pay far more than lip service to the needs of Maori.
      My vision: A caring Society, with comparable statistics for Maori and Pakeha for wealth, employment, health, education, justice, will provide benefits for both Maori and Pakeha

      And if Labour get that, it would be a fitting tribute to Tariana.

      • word 13.1.1

        @Boldsirbrian. Tariana Turia had a point of principle while propping up the National Party, donned her revolutionary cap, but continued to support John key to sell this country and its people out. Money and false sense of power won over her and Sharples so called set of “principles”

      • DS 13.1.2

        Actually, Helen Clark bent over backwards to accommodate Tariana Turia. Allowing her to vote against Government legislation while remaining a cabinet minister was unprecedented.

        Turia was so blinded by spite that she jumped into bed with a party that consciously screws over her people whenever they get the chance.

  14. red blooded 14

    True. Tariana Turia was given considerably more latitude and respect than she later gave Hone Hawarera. And let’s take note that the Māori Party did not convince National to repeal or substantially alter the Seabed and Fireshore Act (its stated aim).

    While the Labour MPs now representing most voters on the Māori roll don’t have immediate influence over this government they will, both by virtue of numbers and of their symbolic importance to Labour, have significant impact on the policies and priorities of the next Labour government and should help to provide a strong pool of talent for ministerial portfolios in times to come.

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