- Date published:
9:36 am, August 22nd, 2016 - 141 comments
Categories: Maori Issues, maori party, Maori seats, national, racism - Tags: john roughan, Maori, Maori seats, mike hosking, racism
John Roughan had a thoughtful but misguided piece in Saturday’s Herald:
Has ‘middle NZ’ made no progress?
…I watched Seven Sharp’s item on the resigning Mayor of New Plymouth with a certain sadness. The poor fellow has had enough of the isolation and abuse he has received since he attempted to set up seats on his council for a Maori electorate. I don’t know Taranaki well but it appeared the country’s post-colonial project has yet to reach at least one of its extremities.
Hosking’s reaction was quite different. The problem, he declared, is that the man is out of touch with middle New Zealand. If Maori want to be on councils they can stand for election like everyone else. Simple as that. He said it with the stone cold certainty of all his pronouncements.
Is he right? I had a sinking feeling that night that he must be. Hosking is only one man and was speaking from gut instinct but he rules the ratings on breakfast radio and prime time television these days and you don’t do that without a very good gut instinct.
The idea that “ruling the ratings” makes Hosking’s voice the law is deeply flawed – might as well turn over ethical standards to talkback radio and social media trolls.
I felt sad, ineffably sad for the country.
Yeah me too, but then I remembered that Mike Hosking doesn’t speak for me, or for any number of other “middle New Zealanders”. So I cheered up, and worked out that Roughan’s main mistake in this article is his deeply “rose tinted” view of National’s interactions with Māori.
It is 25 years since Jim Bolger and Sir Doug Graham brought the National Party in behind Treaty settlements, nearly eight years since John Key formed an enduring partnership with the Maori Party.
Tinted out of this brief history is the Orewa speech racism and the divisive Iwi/Kiwi campaign.
I have dared to think that conservative opinion has come around to accepting Maori have a distinctive place in our affairs and that we are better for it. That’s Key’s view. Though strictly he didn’t need the Maori Party’s parliamentary votes, he wanted them in his ministry because, he said, “I just thought it would make us a better government.”
Likewise the idea of an “enduring partnership with the Maori Party” is as rose tinted as it gets. The MP is a pragmatic electoral buffer for Key. And while it is quaint to find someone these days still prepared to take Key at his word, actions speak louder. Key’s “enduring partnership” has presided over an increase in poverty, health problems and homelessness that hits the Māori and PI communities hardest (do they care?). It has lied to and ignored Māori over representation on the new Auckland council; ignored and weakened Māori / Iwi input on issues like privatisation and housing; made a mockery of consultation with Māori over the TPP; revealed double standards on Waitangi day; stayed silent while Māori input was removed from Auckland’s unitary plan; and much more.
In short, I don’t accept Roughan’s conclusion that “middle NZ” has recently become racist because Hosking says so. There is a strong racist streak there, and Hosking represents it, but it has always been there. In seeking to understand and remedy it we should start with the actions of governments and leaders, not with the words of blowhard media constructs.