Divided they lost

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.

13 Responses to Divided they lost

  1. robertguyton says:

    “No Minister” asks:
    “What if…………
    …Helen Clark had announced an unbudgeted, ten-year, $10Billion programme of transport funding a year out from an election in Auckland – what would have been the reaction of the Right across the country?

    Just checking/asking.”


  2. Richard says:

    RG – What an earth has your comment got to do with this post?
    Perfect example of trolling.


  3. Armchair Critic says:

    There would have been howls of outrage and talk of money fairies at the bottom of the garden, RG.


  4. Armchair Critic says:

    Matthew Hooton shows himself up with that comment; it’s a poorly thought through piece.
    As much as I respect Dr Sharples, he has missed the point here too.
    The Maori Party did so badly in the by-election because of their association with National. Mana did well because they oppose National. The Maori Party is unlikely to have received all of Mana’s votes, so a comparison by adding the total votes is unreasonable.
    The suggestion that leadership of the Maori Party was the main reason for their poor showing is just untrue. It is a reason, but as above, the main reason is the association with National.
    In considering a merger, the Maori Party hierarchy need to acknowledge that Hone Harawira got it right, and Turia and Sharpness got it wrong. This acknowledgement could involve revoking the agreement the MP have with National, leaving their majority completely reliant on Dunne and Banks.


  5. Andrei says:

    RG – What an earth has your comment got to do with this post?

    Maybe it is relevant, maybe not.

    The post starts with hand wringing over pitiful turnout and of course the turnout is pitiful because the whole election thing is totally irrelevant to all but the political class – who play their silly little games to try and outwit each other.

    The Auckland transport thing is a case in point – its not about what is best for thee, me and those dear to us, it is about undercutting the opposition.

    And why vote when all you are doing is giving your blessing to people who when it comes down to it you do not support, who will continually do things you disagree with.


  6. homepaddock says:

    I’m with Richard in failing to see the relevance of Robert’s comment, even with Andrei’s suggestion.

    I do have a post under construction on last week’s announcement.

    In the meantime, the Saturday and Sunday soapboxes give plenty of licence for comments not related to topics on which I’ve posted.


  7. Armchair Critic says:

    I’ve been looking forward to seeing your take on the announcements, Ele, because they raise some complex issues and that will require some thought, and good writing. And as you’ve said before, you are busy. 🙂


  8. JC says:

    I had a quick look at the votes per polling booth and whats immediately obvious is this was a Gisborne/Ruatoria/Wairoa election in which Labour and the MP did ordinarily and Mana did very well. But spread across the whole electorate Labour and the MP have better support than Mana.

    My feeling is once we hit the general election Labour and the MP will do a lot better when the Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and Wgton people get motivated.



  9. robertguyton says:

    I posted my comment on Monday morning.
    Richard’s comment, it should be noted, has nothing at all to do with Ele’s post.
    You judge.



  10. TraceyS says:

    The post was there at 7.00am. Your comment at 7.24am, and Richard’s at 8.50am.

    What is there to judge?


  11. homepaddock says:

    Richard’s comment was a response to yours. Your comment was irrelevant to the post but would have been fine on the soapbox, even if written on Monday not Saturday or Sunday.


  12. robertguyton says:

    Confusing much! Would you post a comment written on Sunday, on Saturday soapbox? Should you post a comment written on Monday, on Sunday soapbox, or Saturday soapbox? Or would you, dazed and confused by uncertainty, post a Monday comment under a Monday post? Cripes – the interweb – it’s a virtual mine-field! And I’ve upset Richard again. Don’t judge him, Tracey. But what about that $10b un-budgeted election-bribe though, eh! That’s really something to discuss. The snake-oil was flowing thickly from Key over that one!


  13. homepaddock says:

    People often comment on posts published several days earlier. The on-going discussion on regional growth is an example of this.

    The most recent comments show up in the side bar enabling people to check them out should they be interested.


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