. . . O’Sullivan has thrown his celebrity behind the Maori Party saying he believed compromise was the best way to advance Maori interests, and the Maori Party was best placed to do that.
O’Sullivan’s face is plastered over party billboards across the country.
He said that despite warnings it was “reckless and risky” to publicly endorse a party he felt it was necessary.
“I hope that my small – and I do think it’s small – contribution to this campaign could help to bring a positive light to what the Maori Party has achieved and has the potential to achieve,” he said.
O’Sullivan, who also spoke at the party’s campaign launch, cited its willingness to straddle the political divide and its focus on issues such as rheumatic fever and healthy homes as being behind his decision.
“I don’t think a party that’s on the extreme edges one way or another is going to be beneficial for Maori,” he said.
While reluctant to comment specifically on the Internet Mana Party, he said he preferred a positive message over one focused on “pulling down the Government”.
He had been forced to make unpopular but necessary decisions in his own career and the Maori Party was willing to do the same, he said.
“I think we as Maori also need to realise that compromise is a part of political involvement in New Zealand politics,” he said.
“Like I say, sometimes the decisions are not popular . . . it’s hard to be popular and do the right thing at the same time.” . . .
No party can expect to get all the policies it wants enacted.
MMP is supposed to promote consensus but that is rarely possible without at least some compromise.
Small parties tend to get punished for their part in a coalition but the Maori Party has won more than it could have had it chosen to stay in opposition.
One of those gains was the continuation of the Maori seats which would almost certainly have gone had Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples not argued for them in their coalition deal.
Another was Whanau Ora which is making a positive difference to people’s lives.
But perhaps the most significant achievement was proving that the party could work with National and Maori had much to gain by it doing so.
Had it chosen to stay outside the coalition it would be marooned on the left of politics like the Green and Mana Parties.
It’s leaders realised the gains they could make by being in a National-led government, even though it meant accepting compromises.
In doing so they have made real gains.
Tai Tokerau Maori Party candidate Te Hira Paenga has made it clear at a political debate that its relationship with National is to ensure government policies will improve the lives of tangata whenua. . .
In the time allocated to Te Hira Paenga, he said the party made no apologies for striking a relationship with the Government.
He said more tangata whenua needed to work with government agencies in order to provide a better education system, real jobs and living wage.
Mr Paenga also made a subtle dig at his fellow candidates by saying it was time to get rid of the ‘old nets’ referring to the proverb – ka pū te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi.
That translates as: As a old net withers another is remade, meaning when an elder is no longer fit to lead, a healthier leader will stand in his place.
The Maori Party’s two older leaders are retiring. Paenga’s speech shows he is willing to follow their example and accept that compromise is necessary in government.
So too is accepting that the right decisions won’t always be popular.
O’Sullivan understands that.
It is a message he and the party must get across to voters if it is to survive this election in a state to continue making a positive difference.