Turia vs the Maori Party Left

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, November 1st, 2010 - 38 comments
Categories: foreshore and seabed, maori party - Tags: , ,

The problem with any identity-based political movement is it pre-supposes that the common identity of its members surpasses their conflicting class interests. This has been brought to a head at the Maori Party national conference as Tariana Turia angrily denounced criticism of the Maori elite from the Left faction.

Speaking about the mysterious and self-appointed Iwi Leadership Forum that has appeared out of nowhere to negotiate the foreshore and seabed deal in secret with the Government, Turia said:

“I find it really difficult when we come into hui and we listen to people denigrate those of our iwi leaders who have sat at that table…and I wont have anybody in this room, and I’ll only say this once, I will never allow you to speak against our iwi leadership. You have no right to.”

That is, the elite is always right and criticism from the hoi polloi is not going to be tolerated.

Turia directed some of her criticism at Hone Harawira in particular. The founding principle of the Maori Party was that it wouldn’t be a strictly whipped party like the ‘Pakeha parties’ – MPs were elected by the iwi of their electorates and that gave them the mana and the mandate to vote as they thought best, even if that went against the rest of the party. Now, Harawira is exercising that right over the new foreshore Bill, and Turia has decided that freedom is nice in theory but in reality she wants five votes that she controls:

“Why are we there? Do we think that we hold the rangatiratanga for whanau, hapu and iwi. We don’t. We are part of kawanatanga. Our job is to try to be the most powerful advocate that we can be on any one day in that parliamentary environment.

There is not a day goes by where we are not having a stoush about something and so we should. that’s what we have been put there for. But let’s not get our roles mixed up with those of the hapu and iwi and let’s not keep denigrating those of our leaders who do get to the table….

… And so you know sometimes we come out and we listen to people making huge statements which basically not only undermine Pita and I as the leaders in the parliamentary environment but I have had to sit through hui after hui where people have undermined the leadership of matua Whatarangi [past president Whatarangi Winiata] and I want to tell you that those days are over. Those days are over.

All of us have to stand shoulder to shoulder for one another”

What is that other than a declaration of war on the Left faction of the Maori Party and a sign that Turia wants to implement uncontested control of the party’s direction?

It’ll be interesting to see how the Left faction, that has coalesced around Harawira and Annette Sykes, reacts. There’s talk of a new foreshore hikoi, directed against the support of the majority of the Maori Party and most of the other parties for the new foreshore Bill that does little more than rearrange the words of the existing law.

PS. I was going to write something about the three months late Whanau Ora announcement that finally took place on Friday. But, frankly, bugger all was announced. I still have no idea what Whanau Ora is meant to do, let alone when they’ll do it.

38 comments on “Turia vs the Maori Party Left”

  1. ianmac 1

    I read somewhere in the Herald this morning that the change in the Act does not preclude those who win customary title from charging for the use of declared seabed/foreshore. The old act was explicit. The new act does not mention it, but maybe the Maori Party believe it gives them implied control?
    Ah found it, David Round:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10684394

  2. tc 2

    They sure do belong in coalition with NACT with attitude and machinations like that, it was always going to get ugly for the dynamic duo once those not at the table started flexing their political muscle.

    This could’ve been avoided if they didn’t sell out so much so early on but F&S just resonates a theme with most of a continuing sellout and a dictatorial approach which is becoming all the more clear everyday.

    As F&S was the defining issue to create the MP will it also break it up as this is hardly concillliatory stuff but rather ‘get back in yo box’ so that should go well then.

    • William Joyce 2.1

      “sell out” – the MP has fallen foul of the nature of politics. You can be as idealistic as you like running for election but once you’re in power (& esp for a jr partner) it’s about negotiation around what is possible. The voters see negotiation as “compromise” and sell out.

  3. Hone must be bloody close to forming his own party by now.

  4. Carol 4

    EDDIE said, The problem with any identity-based political movement is it pre-supposes that the common identity of its members surpasses their conflicting class interests.

    I think this is a problem for a political party being identity-based, but not a movement . A movement is pretty flexible and involves a network of groups and interests. These days, feminist politics tends to foreground issues of intersectionality. This recognises that each issue and political action can foreground one or more identity and/or class issues.

    Class-based politics traditionally marginalised important issues of gender, sexuality and race, making it more a politics for white working class heterosexual men. Left politics have moved on from that. But neoliberalism found it useful to appropriate a narrowed version of identity politics and separate it from class issues. That is what is happening with the NACT approach to its coalition with the MP. It is a difficult process for the Maori Party to negotiate. because Maori haven’t always found their best interests served by Labour either.

    I suspect that the MP is heading to be more of a Hone Harawira led party, that will split off from any elitist Maori than align themselves with National Party economic elites. However, I think this won’t play out in easily predictable ways.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Class-based politics traditionally marginalised important issues of gender, sexuality and race, making it more a politics for white working class heterosexual men.

      What do you think about Eddie’s point of the reverse phenomenon?

      Where class based identity (or even aspirations to be included in a different, higher class) starts to override issues of gender, sexuality and race? This seems to be something that NAT have cottoned on to: the Tories have never forgotten about the relevance of class structure and class aspirations to society, and have tapped into it very strongly.

      • Carol 4.1.1

        CV, I agree this happens too. I thought I had implied that by indicating class can be the important focus of some issues or political actions. However, I don’t agree that NACT have completely overridden issues of gender, sexuality and race. NACT seems to have kept the dominant positions in their outfit for white, heterosexual men. ACT have had problems of gender harrassment and will nact play to racism, mysogyny and homophobia when it suits.

        The Nats seem to put women in the frontline of contentious social issues (education, social welfare etc) . To the Nat hierarchy, I’m sure those women are expendible.

        I do think that neoliberalism and the behaviour of class elites is the greatest political problem we have to deal with at the moment, but I don’t think it needs to come by jettisoning commitments to inequalities and oppressions related to gender, race and sexuality that are still with us. They intersect, overlap and interact with issues of class in a variety of ways

      • pollywog 4.1.2

        Where class based identity (or even aspirations to be included in a different, higher class) starts to override issues of gender, sexuality and race?

        oh you mean get rich or die trying ?…i think it makes people sell out their cultures all the more faster.

        maybe that’s evolution in action. survival of the fatcats.

      • KJT 4.1.3

        People often forget that there is a strict class hierarchy in Maori culture also.

        More comparable to that in the UK than with Pakeha culture in New Zealand.

  5. JonL 5

    Hone is getting a lot of support from the electorate – well, from among those I’ve talked to, anyway. Turia may think she’s Queen Bee, but she’ll be an unelected queen bee at the rate she’s carrying on…..

  6. Olwyn 6

    “Where class based identity (or even aspirations to be included in a different, higher class) starts to override issues of gender, sexuality and race?”

    I think that the aspiration to rise through the class ranks is to some extent contingent upon privation and contempt being visited on those who are not middle class. People do seem to want to improve their lives, but climbing the socio-economic ladder is not the only improvement one might choose to make. Left to their own devices, people join religious orders, move to low-income places where they can go white-baiting, work part-time so they can write poetry, and take on professional training so as to serve their own class rather than part company with it. And a lot of other actions, many of which are not based on social-climbing. But if you are made to feel that you are worthless unless you are middle class, you strive to become middle class so as to avoid that fate.

    • Rosy 6.1

      “But if you are made to feel that you are worthless unless you are middle class, you strive to become middle class so as to avoid that fate”

      Or give up striving, withdraw from larger society and become part of the underclass.

      • pollywog 6.1.1

        The underclass have the best parties. None of that pretentious middle class wank.

        • Rosy 6.1.1.1

          🙂 there is a bit of truth in that!

          • Olwyn 6.1.1.1.1

            Think about the term underclass for starters: it is a pejorative, a euphemism for “outcast” or even “untouchable” in a caste system that draws its legitimacy from little other than money. The decile measure of schools similarly supports this caste system with nothing other than wealth from which to draw legitimacy. The problem people face when they resign themselves to the underclass is not just a lack of status, which does not matter to everyone, but being a target of every single institution, and being in the wrong from the outset, whatever the argument. Listen to the radio or the TV: the question, whatever it pertains to, is always what to do with them, not how to hear an accommodate their concerns. And as I have already said, if this state of affairs did not obtain, the middle class aspiration would have less traction, especially given the better parties Pollywog refers to.

            From Simone Weil: “Human beings are so made that the ones who do the crushing feel nothing; it is the person who is crushed who feels what is happening. Unless one has placed oneself with the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand.”

      • KJT 6.1.2

        Until the great experiment, pretty much all new Zealanders were middle class.

        You could live a middle class lifestyle with a labouring job.

        The CARETAKER at Westhaven used to race a 60 ft yacht.

        Now NZ wages have dropped so much, compared with the price of essentials, that even those with a skilled job are struggling.

  7. swordfish 7

    Take a look at Dr Elizabeth Rata’s critique of culturalism and “Neo-Tribal Capitalism”. She argues that what was, in the 1970s, a broad-based, democratic and highly-progressive movement for cultural recognition and social justice has been utterly derailed over the last 25 years, simply becoming a vehicle for a Neo-Liberal Maori elite to acquire considerable economic and political capital – at the on-going expense of the Maori population in general.

    She, I think rightly, sees a deep divide between the economic interests of these Neo-Liberal Maori elites and the bulk of the Maori (especially urban-based) population.

    • Red Rosa 7.1

      Hard to fault that analysis, swordfish.

      Proposed changes to the F&S legislation are a meaningless form of words. If accepted by the Maori Party, this will mark the most cynical deal struck in NZ politics for many a day. For no real change in the law, the Maori Party MPs will keep their lucrative positions, and the NACT government will roll merrily along.

      Sadly, the Maori elite will get the cash (tax cuts, corporate jobs) and most Maori will get nothing.

      • KJT 7.1.1

        This has become simply the Maori Moneyocracy getting the right to exploit the foreshore and seabed for money. Just like the Pakeha robbercracy.

        National are happy with this as they can then plant fish farms and mine anywhere around the coast without the necessity of going through the RMA or asking the public.

        I think we should be discussing a solution that will suit most of us.
        http://kjt-kt.blogspot.com/2010/09/kia-ora-its-disappointing-that-john-key.html
        All foreshore and seabed should become “Commons” as it comes up for sale, the queens chain should be reinstated where possible. Those who can prove ownership whether under customary or European title compensated fairly.

        I believe Hone suggested this at one point.

        There should be a discussion about the ability to sell any land to non-residents, but foreshore and seabed should only be able to be sold back to the public.

        • marty mars 7.1.1.1

          No iwi or hapu voluntarily gave up their foreshore and seabed – i am pretty sure Hone was suggesting vesting title with maori and having the crown prove non-customary ownership. I like this idea rather than giving land to the ‘commons’ or the crown. I would also bring back all of the private parcels of foreshore and seabed and vest them with maori too.

    • pollywog 7.2

      simply becoming a vehicle for a Neo-Liberal Maori elite to acquire considerable economic and political capital – at the on-going expense of the Maori population in general.

      You mean they souled out their culture for a few capitalist baubles.

  8. ron 8

    Maori Party – Brown Tories
    Captcha = deep

    • The sad part of all this debate regarding the Maori Party is that because of the un-necessary hatred of Helen Clark from Turia, the Maori Party has lost its chance to be a party of achievment. What a shame this bitter woman has destroyed the first proper Maori Party with a chance of real success.If the Maori party is to really survive they must expell Turia and return the Party to the Left.The Maori Party needs have a partnership with Labour. Labour ,warts and all, is the only Party able to save the Maori Party.
      After all is this not what the majority of Maori wanted? Did not Maori give their party vote mainly to Labour . Come on my Maori comrades throw Turia out and throw the baubles lover, Sharples out with her , Return the Maori party back to what it was planed to be.

  9. Rharn 9

    The reality is that neither the Nats nor Labour can give Hone etc what they want. It would be political suicide to do so. Pakeha makeup the majority of votes and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Some Maori will ‘never’ understand this. The Maori Party will eventually split over this issue.

    It’s another wound that will not heal thanks to Key and co in changing the law. All they have done is to reopen the scar and scars never heal as they do the first time. This is the damaging legacy that Key and his government have left us with.

    • pollywog 9.1

      it’s not in the Maori parties best interests to fully and finally settle the foreshore and seabed debate.

      it was/is their raison d’etre. without it Maori voters will move on to the next party du jour.

      things don’t seem too rosy amongst Maori party supporters according to an interviewed on Native Affairs tonight.

      and one can’t underestimate the support Hone has in Maoridom and the wider Pasifikan sphere.

  10. William Joyce 10

    Hone is, by nuture and nature, a person who thrives at being oppositional. He is not suited to being in an environment that requires co-operation with others or with negotiated settlements.
    Being in coalition was always going to be a big ask for someone best suited to shouting a purest idealism.
    The question once was, “Does he still have a role for the good of Maori or has time reduced him to an Angry of Mayfair writing to The Times in red crayon?”
    Perhaps the Maori Party getting into bed with National has finally given him another opportunity for some more shouting.

    • ianmac 10.1

      William: “Hone is, by nuture and nature, a person who thrives at being oppositional. He is not suited to being in an environment that requires co-operation with others or with negotiated settlements.”
      Maybe, but should an MP responsible to his constituents, stick to his principles and be very clear where he/they stand? Or compromise his beliefs out of sight? Think of certain other MPs who are unknown for what their principles are, because they are cagey about committing to anything. (John Key?)

      • William Joyce 10.1.1

        Yes, to a dregree Hone is more open about where he stands and that separates him from the vanilla pollies and from the duplicitous ones.The nature of coalition government is that you have to choose which battle you can fight and accepted the best that you can get.
        My point was not that he shouldn’t have principles and stick to them but that Hone doesn’t play well with others.
        He may form a splinter party and agitate for change but what would he do if that party got into coalition?

  11. \”To the Nat hierarchy, I’m sure those women are expendible.\” – Having taken the example of Margaret Thatcher and Jenny Shipley you will find women are in those positions because they are considered competent. That is the post gender environment.

    Your comment is patronising and sexist even if you did not think so. It is another example of a characteristic that seems prevalent on the left. Things cannot be taken at face value, there must be an offended \”-ism\” behind everything.

    • Maynard J 11.1

      I’d prefer to judge people by their own competence, and for example can see no reason at all why Tolley is in cabinet.

      It’s naivety to take her appointment at face value, because that would imply she has some degree of merit that is clearly not there.

    • Carol 11.2

      I wish the evidence did show that we lived in a “post gender” society. There is still a major gender gap in wages and top poisitions in business and the academic world. How long did Jenny Shipley last as Nat leader? And has any other woman got anywhere near there since in the National Party. Women in the top positions in power, in the US, UK, Aussie and currently in NZ, are more the exception than the rule, and get particular attention in gender terms when they do make it to the very top (eg Gillard).

      If you compare NACT with the other parties with MPs in the NZ parliament, they are noticeably bereft of women in the most senior positions. The women have portfolios n contentious areas, and seem expendable. Why, for instance, was Wilkinson NOT at the meeting with Warners execs?

    • Colonial Viper 11.3

      you will find women are in those positions because they are considered competent.

      Well I don’t know why you are bringing those names into it then, they don’t really support your supposition.

  12. MJ – You mistake your antagonism to National education policy for her lack of competence.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Her bad communication and aloofness with sector stakeholders, and a total disregard for their professional opinions, is an integral part of National education policy?! 😯

  13. Lew 13

    Eddie, while framing this dispute as “class” v “identity” makes for a nice narrative, it’s wrong. This is the old story about the radical faction of a movement fighting the dominant moderate, collaborative faction. To try and argue that Harawira, Sykes and Jackson are not operating from a kaupapa Māori position is simply bullshit — their whole critique is that the māori party’s willingness to compromise so much on the MCA bill is not authentic enough. And as we’ve seen over the past half-decade on this Foreshore & Seabed issue, and most recently also with The Hobbit strikes, the “left” doesn’t have a monopoly on sticking up for heterodox perspectives within a movement; the “class warriors” are perfectly happy to enforce solidarity and quash dissent when it suits them. (I’ve written more about this on KP.)

    L

  14. Drakula 14

    It seems to me that turia has become a dictator that is not prepared to tolerate criticism the very grist that would strenthen the Maori Party.

    It is a very sad situation it means that urbane maori who don’t go along with the MP have no say they are disenfranchised.

    Olwyn is under the assumption that people from the underclass, when they have climbed the ladder have tolerence and understanding for the least of their bretherin,

    That is simply untrue; history has proven that the worst persecuters are the ones who have been persecuted.

    And if we are talking about climbing the ranks to the great middle class then I would say that Paula Bennett is a classic example of that; ex beneficiary, now benificiary basher!

  15. Hamish Gray 15

    I guess it’s kind of like the Labour Party – essentially a worker’s party that has expanded to include a much broader range of interests, from gay rights to academics to, ostensibly, the environmental movement. And as a result, it casues tension within the party. It happens in all political parties and I don’t think you can level this solely at “identity-based” parties.

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