It’s about respect not politics and past

December 9, 2013

Talkback last night was full of criticism of New Zealand’s delegation to Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Prime Minister John Key will lead a small group of New Zealanders to pay respects to Nelson Mandela at his official memorial service in South Africa.

“Nelson Mandela was a global icon for freedom who united South Africans following apartheid,” says Mr Key.

“Madiba’s achievements demonstrate what can be attained through forgiveness and reconciliation. His vision for South Africa was one of freedom and equality. It remains an inspiration to the world.”

Mr Key will be accompanied by the Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Dr Pita Sharples; Leader of the Opposition, Hon David Cunliffe, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Rt Hon Jim Bolger; and former Foreign Minister and Secretary‑General of the Commonwealth, the Rt Hon Sir Don McKinnon.

“This distinguished delegation reflects the mana of Mr Mandela, and the highest regard in which New Zealand held him,” says Mr Key.

“New Zealand has a close friendship with South Africa, built on the solid foundation of Commonwealth, sporting and personal ties. New Zealanders felt an emotional connection with Nelson Mandela and our sympathies are with the people of South Africa at this difficult time.’’ . .

The critics don’t seem to understand that this is about respect for Mr Mandela, not politics and not the past to which they cling.

Attempting to politicise this is disrespectful to the man and what he stood for – reconciliation and forgiveness.


Sharples resigning

July 2, 2013

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is to resign from the leadership today and will leave parliament at next year’s election.

Clinging to the co-leadership as he had been wasn’t good for the party and could well have contributed to its poor showing in Saturday’s by-election.

However, his retirement could make it more difficult for the party to hold his seat.

It will have to find a strong candidate who will attract wide support as his successor in Tamaki Makaurau.

 


Divided they lost

July 1, 2013

Only around 12,000 of the nearly 35,000 people on the electoral roll in Ikaroa-Rawhiti bothered to do vote in the by-election.

Labour’s Meka Whaitiri won the seat with just 4,368 votes and a sorry 35.8% turnout.

Is that a record low?

The Mana Party will be delighted that its candidate  Te Hāmua Nikora came second with 2,607 votes.

The Maori Party will be very disappointed that its candidate Na Raihania, was third with 2,104.

The win might be enough for those in Labour’s caucus who were aiming their knives at their leader’s back to set them down, for now.

But something all three parties need to think about is that the combined total of Nikora’s and Raihania’s votes was greater than that of Whaitiri’s.

Pita Sharples says the Maori Party, rather than its candidate, is responsible for its result. He didn’t mention, but he ought to be thinking about, his unwillingness to loosen his hold on the leadership.

However, as Matthew Hooton points out:

Had Mr Harawira not split the Maori Party in 2011, it is almost certain it would have won last night’s Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election.  It would most probably have held on to Te Tai Tonga in 2011 so that it would now hold six of the seven Maori electorates and have much greater leverage over Mr Key and Labour. . .

There is no single Maori view but one party targeting the Maori seats would have had a very real chance of challenging Labour for them and being in a very strong position to go with a government led by either National or Labour.

But divided they lost the by-election and will almost certainly be too weak separately to do nearly as well as they could together.

Harawira put his personal feelings before political strategy, opening the way for Labour to retake most of the Maori seats and that could well bring about the demise of these electorates.

The idea of  New Zealand First in a governing coalition is the stuff of nightmares. But there would be one small consolation if that was the only way for National to stay in government, both parties favour culling the Maori seats.

National conceded that policy when it invited the Maori Party into coalition in 2008.

Should the Maori Party not be in a position to help National into government and, perish the thought, New Zealand First be a potential coalition partner, the Maori seats could go.

If Harawira had bothered to take a longer view beyond his personal agenda he would have been aware of that possibility and the risk he was taking in splintering from the Maori Party.


Unlocking $8b potential in Maori land

April 4, 2013

A report commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries has shown there’s $8 billion potential held in over one million hectares of Maori freehold land.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says:

The report Growing the Productive Base of Māori Freehold Land estimates that lifting productivity to average industry benchmarks could result in an additional $8 billion in gross output and 3,600 new jobs for the primary sector. To achieve the estimated gains an investment in the land of just under $3 billion would be required.

“The potential for Maori freehold land represents an opportunity for Maori, the wider primary sector and New Zealand as a whole,” says Mr Guy.

“The report confirms that some iwi are well organised and have their asset base generating good returns, while others haven’t realised their true potential yet.

“It is ultimately up to Maori to work out how to realise that potential, but Government has an important role partnering with Māori as leaders in driving a change.

“The proposed reforms to the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act announced by Minister for Treaty Settlements Chris Finlayson and Minister of Māori Affairs Dr Pita Sharples today will be an important step towards unlocking this potential,” says Mr Guy.

Late last year the Ministry for Primary Industries provided close to $3 million in funding for initiatives to promote sustainability and innovation amongst Maori agribusinesses.

The Ministry is also working with education agencies, training providers and other stakeholders to identify the opportunities to provide targeted training to Maori agribusinesses.

The Maori collective asset base is estimated at $37 billion. Approximately 30 per cent ($10.6 billion) is estimated to be in the primary sectors.

The full report is here.

This is a huge untapped resource which could benefit the landowners, their local communities and the wider economy.

Releasing it requires some changes to the complex rules governing Maori land.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples and Associate Minister Chris Finlayson have released a discussion document on how to improve the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act, and Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993.

The purpose of the document is to seek views on how best to ensure that Te Ture Whenua Māori Act unlocks the economic potential of Māori land while preserving its cultural significance for future generations.

There are over 27,137 blocks of Māori land under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act, comprising 1.42 million hectares, or around 5% of the total land in New Zealand. It has been estimated up to 80% of Māori land is under-performing for its owners.

“The proposals of the expert review group will contribute to building a more productive and competitive economy as part of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda,” Mr Finlayson said. “There is huge potential in Māori land that has been held back by flawed legislation and complex regulation.”

“The propositions seek to provide the appropriate legislative framework for the retention of Māori land while at the same time making it easier for engaged owners to use and develop the land for the benefit of whānau, hapū and iwi,” he said. “The benefits for Māori and the country as a whole are potentially very significant.”

The Minister of Māori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples said that this process will contribute to He kai kei aku ringa: the Crown-Māori Economic Growth Partnership Strategy and Action Plan, by looking at how government can support Maori development of this cultural, and economic resource.

“Whenua is a cornerstone of our Māori identity,” Dr Sharples said. “Maori land owners should be supported to develop or retain their resource, in line with the aspirations they have for their own development.”

“There are many Maori land blocks that remain unutilised; that represents a huge potential for economic, social and cultural development for tangata whenua.”

The discussion document looks at on-going challenges, such as effectively providing for the use and management of Māori land in the face of continuing fragmentation of land interests, and the result that 80% of Māori land remains underdeveloped.

The expert review panel’s propositions are:

  • Utilisation of Māori land should be able to be determined by a majority of engaged owners;
  • All Māori land should be capable of utilisation and effective administration;
  • Māori land should have effective, fit for purpose, governance;
  • There should be an enabling institutional framework to support owners of Māori land to make decisions and resolve any disputes;
  • Excessive fragmentation of Māori land should be discouraged.

The panel will hold a series of regional hui during April and May in areas with high concentrations of Māori land and/or Māori land owners.

The discussion document is here.


Single vehicle for diverse views won’t go forwards

January 24, 2013

Tariana Turia has announced this will be her last term in parliament and Te Ururoa Flavell wants to be co-leader of the Maori Party.

That would be simple if it were not for the party’s rule requiring male and female co-leaders.

Flavell can’t succeed Turia and so has to challenge Sharples who doesn’t want to go.

The requirement to have female and male co-leaders could cause more than enough difficulties for larger parties where the talent pool is larger.

What’s happening in the Maori Party shows why it’s even more of a handicap for the wee ones.

Complicating the issue is Hone Harawira’s suggestion that the Mana and Maori Parties should merge, with him as leader.

The leadership of the Maori Party was thrown into the spotlight yesterday morning when Mana Party leader Hone Harawira announced he was open to talks to reconnect with his former party as leader.

He claimed members of the Maori Party had approached him around the country keen for him to take over. . .

Sharples appeared to be open to the idea of Harawira returning, saying there was no point in having two Maori parties. . .

Harawira and Sharples must have forgotten why the former left the Maori Party a few short years ago.

His vision for Maori was very different from that of the party’s other MPs and theirs aren’t the only visions.

There are Maori involved with other political parties who have very different ideas.

A single vehicle for diverse and sometimes conflicting philosophies won’t take its  passengers forward, they’ll just keep going round in circles.


Co-leader conundrum

December 24, 2012

Sharing the leadership can only work for the wee parties because they know they’ll never be in a position for their leaders to be Prime Minister.

I’m not sure what difference having two co-leaders rather than a leader and deputy makes in practice but it can produce a conundrum when party rules dictate the need for gender balance.

It is especially problematic for wee parties who don’t have enough candidates, or possibly talent, in their ranks, to elevate a sitting MP to the position.

The Green Party faced this problem when Russel Norman became co-leader outside parliament when he wasn’t the next MP on the list.

The Maori Party now have a similar problem.

Tariana Turia has announced she’s not standing again in 2014 and will consider stepping down from the leadership before then.

She’s also asking her co-leader Pita Sharples to step down as leader in favour the party’s only other MP Te Ururoa Flavell.

There may well be good arguments for Sharples to step-down anyway.

But if the party didn’t require gender balance in the co-leadership succession could take place without the need for Sharples to step down.


SMOG or playing to gallery?

September 6, 2012

From any other politician this would be regarded as a SMOG - social media own goal:

Hone Harawira · 2,262 subscribers

8 hours ago ·

  • Time John Key realised a few home truths like (1) he can tell his little house niggers what to do, but (2) the rest of us don’t give a shit for him or his opinions!

It’s certainly not language befitting an MP but he’s playing to his gallery.

I presume he’s referring to this:

That leaves the Maori Party. Co-leader Tariana Turia says  she doubts they will be attending.

“Well at this point I don’t really see the point in going,” she says.

Fellow co-leader Pita Sharples agrees.

“We believe this is a thing that iwi/hapu have to work out  themselves,” he says.

They are right.

Maori as a whole don’t have rights to water. If anyone has a case it’s individual iwi or hapu.


Playing to poor-me gallery

February 1, 2012

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples was playing to the poor-me gallery with his response to Prime Minister John Key’s first speech of the year last week:

Maori Party Co-leader Dr Pita Sharples is disappointed at the obvious omissions from the Prime Minister’s State of the Nation speech this afternoon.

“This was not a speech about the health of this nation – it was almost exclusively about the economy and budgetary matters,” said Dr Sharples.

“There was nothing said about the well-being of our nations peoples.

“I didn’t see the word poverty – even though the government has set up a Ministerial inquiry into poverty.

“The Treaty was not mentioned once – even though we have already begun to review the constitution of Aotearoa.

“And there was no reference to Maori in his speech – so our people must see that only the Maori Party in Parliament is able to bring their most important issues before the House of Representatives and the Government.

He must know that getting the economy and budgetary matters right is the only way to pay for education, health and other services and boost employment and that those are the only way to alleviate poverty.
He also ought to know that when the Prime Minister talks about New Zealanders he means all of us and that it is not necessary to single out any particular group.
This speech, like yesterday’s threat to walk away from the Maori Party’s coalition agreement with the government, was chest-beating for a constituency.
He and his co-leader Tariana Turia can’t possibly have forgotten the message they gave voters during the election campaign — that you can’t achieve anything in opposition.
But they are on dangerous ground because their grandstanding will not appeal to all Maori.
Iwi with money to invest are keen to take up the opportunities provided by the partial sale off state assets.
In playing to the poor-me gallery Sharples and Turia are foolishly overlooking the other gallery full of people keen to stand on their own feet.

Nats, Maori Party have relationship Accord and C&S agreement

December 11, 2011

The National and Maori Parties have reached a Relationship Accord and Confidence and Supply Agreement.

This agreement differs from those signed with the United Future and ACT parties in that while the Maori Party will support the National-led Government on confidence and supply, it is not required to vote for legislation required to give effect to the policies in National’s Post-Election Action Plan.

“This is a policy-based agreement and features a number of areas where both parties agree to work together,” says Mr Key.

“On everything else besides confidence and supply, the Maori Party will decide support or not on a case-by-case basis.”

This gives the government three extra votes on confidence and supply measures and allows the Maori Party more freedom to support or oppose other government policies as it chooses.

In return co-leaders get ministerial appointments outside cabinet:

Maori Party Co-Leader Dr Pita Sharples will be appointed to the positions of Minister of Maori Affairs, Associate Minister of Education and Associate Minister of Corrections.  These Ministerial positions will be outside Cabinet.

Maori Party Co-Leader Tariana Turia will be appointed to the positions of Minister responsible for Whānau Ora, Minister for Disability Issues, Associate Minister of Health, and Associate Minister of Housing.  She will also continue to have Associate Ministerial responsibilities in the areas of Social Development and Employment.  These Ministerial positions will be outside Cabinet.

National invited the Maori Party into government three years ago when he didn’t need their votes to govern. That gave the party the mana which had been denied it by Labour which left it in opposition. It also allowed the party to get some concessions - among which was the agreement by National to not abolish the Maori seats – and policy gains.

The coalition agreements with Act and United Future means National doesn’t need the Maori Party to govern this term either. But again John Key has opened the door and the party has sensibly decided to come in and make some policy gains rather than languishing in opposition where it would achieve little or nothing.

The agreement is here.


Is he jumping or being pushed?

December 3, 2011

TVNZ says Pita Sharples will happily stand down as co-leader so new blood can come in.

TV3 has a different slant:

. . . it seems the Maori Party do not want Dr Sharples as co-leader any more and  his position will come up for grabs.

The male co-leadership will be contested by Te Ururoa Flavell – the only  other male MP in the Maori Party.

Sharples said before the election that this would be his last term and it makes sense to hand the co-leadership over in plenty of time for his successor to make his mark.

But being happy to stand down is not the same as not being wanted, so is he jumping or being pushed?

UPDATE: The Dom Post says internal struggles are plaguing the Maori Party but offers nothing in the story to back that up.

Could it be the media trying to find conflict where none exists?

 


Where are your principles Pita?

November 21, 2011

Pita Sharples says the Maori Party opposes National’s plan to sell a minority share in a few state assets but:

He says the Maori Party could support the policy if iwi groups would be able to have priority access to the shares.

What’s happened to his principles? 

The policy is either worth supporting or not. 

I believe it is and that it is a necessary part of much-needed policy to reduce debt.  Some iwi agree and have shown interest in buying shares.

But supporting the policy only if iwi, or anyone else, has priority access is completely unprincipled.  

John Key has ruled out preferential treatment for anyone, saying all New Zealanders would be treated equally.

 


Turia not committing to full term

October 30, 2011

Maori Party c0-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples are numbers seven and eight  on their party’s list.

That is a deliberate move in preparation for their retirements.

Number one is Waihoroi Shortland who is standing in Te Tai Tokerau and his place indicates that he is the likely successor to the co-leaders.

Giving an indication of future plans is sensible. Sharples says he will stay on until the 2014 election but Turia has indicated she probably won’t complete the term:

Tariana Turia says she will step down sometime during the next term of government, while Pita Sharples says he will see out the term but will not stand in 2014.

She was going to stand down before this term and given her age and family commitments that would have been understandable.

She is clear this will be her last election and she might be meaning to retire close enough to the next election to not trigger a by-election.

If however, she intends to retire earlier she will be putting the taxpayers to the unnecessary expense of a by-election.

Retiring early because of something unforeseen is understandable. Standing when you don’t intend to complete the term is not so much of a problem with a list MP because the next person on the list succeeds them without having to go back to voters.

But standing in a seat when you have no intention of completing the three year commitment you ought to be giving voters is a mistake, and given the cost of a by-election, an expensive one.

Party President Pem Bird’s announcement of the list is here.


Jackson doesn’t want Labour back in Maori seats

September 15, 2011

Willie Jackson won’t stand in Tāmaki Makaurau because he thinks it would result in a Labour win.

“One of the main reasons why I’m not standing is that I’m very clear that my vote will come from Dr. Pita Sharples. If I stand, Dr. Pita Sharples stands and Shane Jones stands, then I am pretty sure that Shane Jones will be delivered to Parliament,” he said at the start of his RadioLIVE programme.

“I don’t want Labour back in the Māori seats.”

He is less than complimentary about Jones, one of Labour’s leadership contenders. At 2:47 he says:

I think Pita Sharples on a bad day is better than Shane Jones on a good day.

A strong candidate for Mana in any of the seats will take votes from the Maori Party and that split could well return them to Labour.


Spot the leader – Updated

August 25, 2011

The Listener has been comparing political party websites.

It found 13 pictures of John Key on the front page of National’s

Labour’s is topped by a video of David Cunliffe and you have to scroll right down to the bottom to find a head and shoulders of Phil Goff beside Annette King, David Parker and Cunliffe.

How do other parties feature their leaders?

The Maori Party has photos of it’s president Pem Bird beside co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia just below the masthead.

United Future has plenty of mentions of Peter Dunne but just two small identical head and shoulder shots of him.

Act has a video featuring Former leader Rodney Hide at the top of it’s front page and no other photos at all.

The Mana Party has changing photos some of which show Hone Harawira, although none identify him as leader.

And the Green Party has a link to it’s MPs but no photos and no names.

Update:Stuaker left this comment:

Stuaker says:
August 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm  (Edit)
http://www.greens.org.nz/ is the actual Greens website, which has photos of the co-leaders, as well as other MPs

But when I clicked on it and also typed in the address and still got to The page I linked to i.greens.org.nz

UPDATE 2: It’s an iPad problem – when I tried this link on a PC it worked and shows chagning photos in the masthead which include co-leaders Metiria Turei and Russel Norman.


Talking past each other doesn’t solve problems

July 13, 2011

Quote of the week:

What New Zealanders are looking for is the way in which we can all progress.
That is not going to happen when people talk past each other. Or when people
intentionally or through ignorance misunderstand each other.

No one-on-one relationship ever truly succeeded without respect, compromise,
humility and deep communication.

It comes from Lindsay Mitchell in an open letter to Don Brash and Pita Sharples.

If these two could stop talking past each other they’d find they agree on what really matters – the need to solve the problem of Maori being over-represented in negative statistics and under-represented in the positive ones.


Self help beats state handouts

May 6, 2011

Quote of the week in Trans Tasman:

Dr Sharples, more than his other colleagues, has grasped the fact accelerating self-help Maori economic development will do more to lift living standards among Maori than any Govt programme.

This is a concept which leader of the yet-to-be constituted Mana Party, Hone Harawira, doesn’t understand.

Economic and social development are inter-related. A growing economy provides jobs and funds education, health and other initiatives which help people help themselves.

The best way to help the disadvantage, of any race, is not handouts which encourage dependence, it’s self-help projects which foster independence.


Harawira suspended from caucus

February 7, 2011

TV3 reports that the Maori Party has suspended Hone Harawira from its caucus:

“Mr Harawira has failed to show the restraint and discipline expected of a caucus member and the Caucus now has no faith or confidence in him. The suspension remains in force until further notice,” says the statement released by Dr Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia.

He has been a waka-rocker from the start.

The leadership is justified in tipping him out.

Keeping him on board left the party in danger of sinking under the weight of his antics.

UPDATE: The party’s statement says:

It is really unfortunate in the political environment when conflict arises such as we have experienced. In the past we have attempted to follow a kaupapa and tikanga process to no avail.  It is for that reason that we looked to the constitution, that Hone helped to shape, to assist us.

Having no regard for the constitution is one thing. It is quite another to have no regard for the kaupapa and tikanga of the party, and that is really what has brought us to this point.

Factions within parties are not new.  We are, however, the only party that comprises membership from one end of the spectrum to the other, and that is why we have relied on our tikanga and kaupapa, the foundation principles of the Maori world, as a guide to our behaviour.

Kaupapa Maori place a high value on unity and working together as a collective.  We must ensure that “members agree to work together, treat each other with respect and act with integrity in their party work” (manaakitanga).

Differences of opinion are fine, but they should be addressed within the group.  We have always respected the right, and made provision for caucus colleagues to speak out on issues which their constituency presents.  We do this, however, always guided by the principle of unity of purpose and direction (kotahitanga).

Ultimately, however, no political movement, divided within itself, can survive.

We have made this decision with heavy hearts. We are especially mindful of the position of Maori Party supporters in Te Tai Tokerau, who will obviously feel loyal to Mr Harawira; but who are also supportive of our kaupapa Maori and the achievements of the Maori Party in Parliament.  We want them to know that we have huge respect for the people of Te Tai Tokerau and our commitment to our people remains unwavering.


Something better than nothing – updated

November 1, 2010

The Maori party is learning that politics requires compromise.

The Marine and Coastal Area Bill which seeks to replace the Foreshore and Seabd Act doesn’t go far enough for some.

“We got to the stage where we can discuss the issues rationally, with some leaning one way and some the other way, and I think we really got to the point where everyone had a better understanding of what government is, and what our role is in there – which is the most important thing,” he told NZPA. . .

Dr Sharples said the party had to make concessions to get this far and people were starting to understand that.

I think they will understand now – if the party votes for it to go ahead – that we have made it very clear that we didn’t get what we really wanted, and what we did get was better than 2004.”

“We are trying to teach everyone that this is kawanatanga, this is government and these are their rules of operation, and if you want to gain some wins you work within those rules and get the wins you can.”

In politics, and life, you can’t always get everything you want but it’s usually better to accept something than walk away with nothing.

Update: A speech by Tariana Turia gives a similar message:

In the end, I think it is a really important consideration for us to think about: do we want to part of that political process or not because we know that in Parliament, everything is about votes and you win or lose on the vote that is taken on any one day.

The difficulty for us, we have five votes and if we can’t garner enough to get 63 votes it becomes very difficult on any issue on any one day in that environment.

But I don’t want you to think that we sit there and we roll over on these issues, we do not. We do not, and we never have. . .

. . . But I do want you to know that while we may do things in Parliament that you don’t approve of, I can promise you that we listen to what you say, and that we advocate what you say and there are times when we lose. And that’s our reality.

Now we can either decide that that is not good enough and shouldn’t be there and we shouldn’t be participating or we should be in opposition basically just throwing stones at whoever the Government is.

Well I have got much longer in my life actually and I’ve had my days of sitting on opposition benches moaning about everything and getting nowhere. . .

National didn’t have to invite the Maori Party into coalition and the party didn’t have to accept. But the government is stronger and the Maori Party has achieved more because it is part of the government not the opposition.

Update: Pita Sharples also  told the party to put health before the beaches:

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples has urged rank and file members to put policy wins in health, education and welfare ahead of damaging splits over the foreshore and seabed as opposition to the planned law change gathers momentum.

In an extraordinary departure from accepted doctrine in the political movement born from protests against Labour’s Foreshore and Seabed Act, Dr Sharples said claims to coastal land were not as important as other matters the party was pursuing.

“For many of my friends, they don’t even know what’s going on with the foreshore and seabed,” he told the party’s annual meeting in Hastings at the weekend.

“But they know what’s going on at home when they’re hungry. They know what’s going on at home when they haven’t got jobs.

“They know when they see their children not reading well, compared to the other children around them.

“These are the sort of things that our people are dealing with day to day, and that’s why I really would like us to think why are we in Parliament.”

Roarprawn also blogs on this.


Peopleism is key to equality

August 5, 2010

Hoen Harawira and Pita Sharples have got what minor parties want - lots of publicity and a dog whistle to the people they hope might vote for them.

But what they want is wrong.

Appeals to victimhood and separatism might give  them power in the short term but they won’t lead to long term success and harmony.

If they’re uncomfortable about the idea of their children choosing partners from a different culture they need to get out more.  I know Maori who have no interest in their own culture and non-Maori who are passionate about it.

We’re not a monocultural society or even a bicultural one. New Zealand is multicultural and we’re  richer because of it.

Interaction with people from a variety of cultures gives us the ability to understand and appreciate differences and to take the best from all of them to make us and our country better.

If they could take their blinkers off they’d be able to look around the world  and at history and find any societies which were based on racial purity were doomed.

Intermingling and intermarriage is a wonderful example of synergy where the whole is better than the sum of its parts.

They think you want equality for Maori but the key to equality is peopleism not racism.

We must accept and appreciate people as people regardless of racial, cultural or any of the other differences which could separate us. We need to look at what unites us and that’s that we are all people – different people with different values and practices maybe, but under the skin where it really matters we’re the same.

As Shylock might have said, had Shakespeare set the Merchant of Venice in New Zealand:

Hath not a pakeha eyes? Hath not a pakeha hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means,
warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer
as a Maori is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us,
do we not die? . . .

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t acknowledge, and even celebrate differences. But the minute any of us start thinking the things which separate us are more important than those we have in common we’re on the road to separatism.

If they think that’s a destination to aim for they’re not only deluded they’re dangerous.


Dear Father Christmas # 2

December 23, 2009

Kia ora Christmas,

We’ve really enjoyed the power toy you gave us last year.

The whole whanau’s enjoyed playing with it. Young Hone got a bit carried away when he took it overseas, but we think he’s learned his lesson.

We like the way the kids in John’s team play nicely with us but we’re not sure about Phil and his team. We think they might be jealous.

As for what we want you to bring this year, we wondered if you could sort out the foreshore and seabed for us?

Thanks and arohanui,

Tariana and Pita.


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