Maori Party options open?

An interesting insight into the possibility of the Maori Party propping up a National-led government in the not-so-distant future is provided by Tim Donoghue’s Inside the Beltway post, “Sheep the casualty in battle for Maori seats“. (Earlier posts here and here.)

The Maori Party ended a tour of the Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat with a dinner at the Wainuiomata RSA in Wellington last Thursday. Donoghue reports:

“Significantly, one of the attendees at this dinner was Hutt South National Party candidate Paul Quinn who, on current polling, looks like entering Parliament at number 48 on the Nats’ list later this year.

“Even Maori Party firebrand Hone Harawira has said in recent weeks he could work with a John Key National-led Government so Quinn’s presence at the meeting was far from coincidental. Indeed, it was an indication Labour’s 2005 slogan that a vote for the Maori Party is a vote for National might be more true this time around.”

Presumably, Quinn was invited.

This follows Hone Harawira’s recent revelation on Alt TV that Labour was not listening to Maori Party overtures, and is pursuing an unrealistic hard line on an electoral accommodation. Discussions with Labour, he said,  were “pretty forced” while “conversations with National are a lot more relaxed.”

Here’s what Harawira said, when asked whether the Maori Party could form a coalition with National (courtesy of TUMEKE!):

“I don’t see why not. I mean our role as the Maori party is to defend Maori rights and advance Maori interests for the benefit of the whole nation. It doesn’t matter who the government’s going to be – as long as we are there to ensure those things happen. Why not? Now people say to me, ‘How on Earth could you think of going into – of jumping in bed with – National?’ and I answer the question: And what’s Labour done for Maori in the last nine years?”

Now, we mustn’t forget that the Maori Party normally determines its post-election strategy in a series of hui. But they learnt last time that it doesn’t pay to be “last cab off the rank”, as Helen Clark put it dismissively.


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7 Responses to “Maori Party options open?”

  1. macdoctor01 Says:

    If nothing else, the Maori party could get the foreshore and seabed legislation revisited. National are more likely to give a considered response and more likely to compromise on a solution.

    Interesting, MacDoc. What makes you think that?

  2. roger nome Says:


    The Maori Party’s protocol is for the leadership to seek a mandate from its constituency when choosing who to work with after an election.

    Now in the latest poll 60% of Maori Party voters wanted them to go with Labour, and 40% wanted them to go with National.

    So given a choice between Labour and Nartional it’s very unlikely that you’re going to be seeing the Maori Party cosey up with the Nats.

    The only situation where you’re likely to see them make a formal agreement with the Nats, is in the eventuality that making an agreement with a Labour-led block is numerically impossible. That, on current polling, could very possibly happen.

  3. macdoctor01 Says:

    JP: Everything about Labour’s approach to the Maori party tells me that they have too much bad history to make a stable formal alliance. As Harawira said, “What’s Labour done for Maori in the last nine years?” With Key exploring a centrist domain, he has much to gain by reaching a reasonable accommodation with the Maori Party and little to lose. I would imagine that the only true non-negotiable from the Maori party would be the preservation of the Maori seats, which Key has already indicated is not a problem.

  4. Inventory2 Says:

    roger nome – I think you’re off track mate. How does the Hon Pita Sharples, Minister of Maori Affairs sound to you? I’ll tell you something for nothing – that would NEVER happen if the Maori Party went with Labour. And don’t underestimate how much Tariana Turia was slighted by Labour – she has a long memory!

  5. ak Says:

    This could well be the crucial question that decides our direction for the next three years.

    To anyone with a good memory, it’s staggering that it should even arise: Labour, as the party formed by, of and for the worker and underdog sectors of society has delivered hugely for Maori over decades. Every measure to empower workers, provide improved (or indeed any) welfare and assistance to the lower socio-economic stratum has benefited Maori disproportionately – and the last nine years has been no exception. (eg large increases in Maori employment and income, health statistics, etc etc).

    Yes a lot more needs to be done, but realpolitik intrudes always: recall not so very long ago that the noble and (one would think) by any sane measure laudable, policy of “closing the gaps” was met with such tory-led opposition and consequent public opprobrium that the government would have been voted out if an election had been held at the time. Likewise, and in the same disgraceful blush, Labour was forced into the Foreshore and Seabed legislation. Despite all this, Labour’s founding motivation remains intact – and many important gains are being made “under the public radar” as we speak.

    On the other hand, National and its sympathisers have performed like right-wing factions everywhere: the odd paternalistic nod and “flagship” initiative, re-distribution of wealth to the upper echelons, all peppered with racist dogwhistles whenever it suits. Here I recall at random Jim Bolger saying at a public meeting that “Apartheid might be a good system – how do you know, ever been there?” to rapturous applause; the Great Tory Hope Winston Peters and his dogwhistles; Bob Jones’ promotion of Alan Duff; almost every bar conversation I have had with a tory, every second comment on any right-wing blog or talkback show, and of course most recently Don Brash’s Orewa One speech and its unanimous support by all tories, including one John Key.

    Maori (and ethnic minorities everywhere) are keenly aware of all of the above (though ironically are less likely to hear direct personal racism than pakeha), which is why they have traditionally and overwhelmingly favoured the Left – which is why it seems surreal for MP to be even considering accommodation with National.
    But the Maori Party is in a uniquely powerful position: by remaining overtly ambiguous as to its intentions, it not only stymies another thinly-veiled racist attack from the Right, but stands to gain enormously after the election. Neither main party can promise specifics before the big day (for fear of public backlash) but the morning after could herald a do-or-die bidding war where the sky’s the limit.

    For the sake of its members and its own long-term success and survival, I hope the MP’s leaders put more weight on proven motivation and record than the very many pieces of silver they will be offered from both sides. For Labour’s part, I hope it has learned the lessons of caving to populism and not only trumpets its considerable achievements in this area, but gives a clear pointer to its intention to expand on them – prior to the election.

  6. roger nome Says:


    “I think you’re off track mate. How does the Hon Pita Sharples, Minister of Maori Affairs sound to you? I’ll tell you something for nothing – that would NEVER happen if the Maori Party went with Labour.”

    Unless the Maori Party breaks its own stated protocol/promise it doesn’t really matter. The Maori seats were held Labour/the Ratina Church for 60 years. There’s a strong historical connection between the Maori constituency and the Labour Party. The Majority of Maori have never supported a National led Government and probably never will.

  7. The day after (the election) « Jafapete’s Weblog Says:

    […] yes, some of us have been saying this for some time. Armstrong goes on to speculate, “… the way the […]

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