Would a rōhi by any other name smell as sweet?

16/09/2021

The Māori Party has launched a petition to have New Zealand’s name officially changed to Aotearoa:

Party co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer are also petitioning for Te Reo Māori names of all towns, cities and place names to be restored by 2026.

Their petition was launched Tuesday, the second day of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori/Māori Language Week.

“Our petition calls on Parliament to change New Zealand to Aotearoa and begin a process, alongside whānau, hapū and iwi, to identify and officially restore the original Te Reo Māori names for all towns, cities and places right across the country by 2026,” said Waititi.

“Tangata whenua are sick to death of our ancestral names being mangled, bastardised, and ignored. It’s the 21st Century, this must change.” . . .

Mangling and bastardising is not confined to Maori names and will continue whether or not Maori names are adopted.

Putting that aside, I support the idea of a referendum on whether our country is named Aotearoa or New Zealand and if that was the only option I’d vote for Aotearoa.

Yes, the early Maori settlers didn’t have a concept of the country as a whole nor did they have a name for it, but Aotearoa has been commonly used for a very long time and it is distinctively ours. Shallow it might be, it’s also alphabetically advantageous to have your country’s name start with an A than an N.

But if we’re also being asked to change the names of all towns, cities and other places, I wouldn’t.

Karl du Fresne has a better idea:

. . . How about this for a rule of thumb? We should retain or restore the Maori names of everything that existed pre-colonisation and for which Maori had their own established nomenclature. That includes geographical features such as mountains, lakes, rivers, coastal features and islands – yes, even the North and South Islands (Te Ika a Maui and Te Wai Pounamu respectively) and Stewart Island (Rakiura).  This wouldn’t require a seismic adjustment because many are referred to by their Maori names anyway – even some that were once known by English names, such as Mt Taranaki/Egmont.

But for everything created post-colonisation and given an English or European name, the status quo should prevail unless the people decide otherwise. This would acknowledge both the Tangata Whenua and the Tangata Tiriti (i.e. non-Maori), but wouldn’t preclude the citizens of any locality from deciding to ditch their English place name in favour of a Maori one. I for one would rather live in Ngamotu than New Plymouth and Taitoko rather than Levin.

The bottom line in all cases is that decisions should be made democratically, not imposed by the political elite or the raucous proponents of identity politics.

Detractors will argue that there are far more important issues that need addressing. They are right but most of us are capable with dealing with more than one thing at a time.

Names are important. Shakespeare’s Juliet asked if a rose by any other name would smell as sweet and Anne Shirley (she of Green Gables) said it wouldn’t if it was called a skunk cabbage.

While it’s going to far to say New Zealand is a skunk cabbage of a name, it’s a long way from a rose, or rōhi.

The Maori Party is doing the right thing by launching a referendum that allows all of us to have a say but they need to word it carefully.

If they want to change the country’s name they should ask the questions so that people can opt for Aotearoa without also having to opt for all the other place name changes as well. I think enough people might be persuaded to let go of New Zealand but wholesale name changes for towns, cities and other places is much less likely to gain majority support.

But the petition is here and the party has made the mistake of requiring people to support or oppose name changes for the country and all other places. I’d have signed it if I could support the change to Aotearoa but not all the other changes.


Playing the racism card

13/05/2021

Anyone else getting sick of people playing the racism card?

The two Maori Party MPs have been trying it in parliament, accusing Opposition MPs who question policy which affects Maori of being racist.

It came to a head yesterday after National leader Judith Collins raised questions over co-governance proposals:

As Collins questioned Ardern about “separate sovereignty” in Parliament, Waititi interrupted her and asked the Speaker to step in. Collins could be heard scoffing as she was forced to sit down.

“Mr Speaker, I seek your guidance and advice,” Waititi said. “Over the past two weeks there has been racist propaganda and rhetoric towards tangata whenua. That not only is insulting to tangata whenua, but diminishes the mana of this House.”

House Speaker Trevor Mallard dismissed Waititi’s disruption, ruling that the conversation was “not at the point” where it was controversial enough to need to be stopped. 

Waititi continued to interrupt Collins and was kicked out of the House. He responded by performing a rousing haka, before departing the Chamber. 

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson also described Collins’ remarks as racist, and congratulated Waititi and Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer for calling her out. 

Davidson said Collins’ “ongoing racist comments” needed to be addressed. 

“This House absolutely deserves better than a narrative that harms tangata whenua communities and damages a pathway for true Tiriti justice.” . . 

What this House and this country deserve is the ability to raise questions about policy that affects us all, and appears to favour only some of us, without  the racism card being played.

Such accusations of racism aren’t confined to parliament. They’re too often made in response to genuine and reasonable questions about, and criticism of, any policies about, or which affect, Maori people.

If making accusations of racisms against questioners and critics of policies is the only reaction those disagreeing with the questions and criticisms have, they’re showing they don’t actually  have any reasonable grounds for argument.


National loses 2 more MPs

06/11/2020

The final election results bring more bad news for National:

National has two fewer seats and Labour and the Māori Party each have one more:

  • The number of seats in Parliament will be 120.
  • The Labour Party has 65 seats compared with 64 on election night.
  • The National Party has 33 seats compared with 35 on election night.
  • The Māori Party has 2 seats compared with 1 on election night.
  • ACT New Zealand and the Green Party remain unchanged with 10 seats each.

Electorate vote – main points

Three electorate results have changed since election night:

    • Labour Party candidate Priyanca Radhakrishnan has won Maungakiekie with a majority of 635 votes over National Party candidate Denise Lee.
    • Labour Party candidate Willow-Jean Prime has won Northland with a majority of 163 votes over National Party candidate Matt King.
    • Labour Party candidate Emily Henderson has won Whangārei with a majority of 431 votes over National Party candidate Shane Reti.
    • All other electorate candidates leading on election night have been confirmed as winning their seats.

The low party vote for National didn’t surprise me.

This was always going to be the election that Covid-19 stole and National worsened its prospects by self-sabotage. A caucus that shoots itself in the foot, stabs itself in the back and trips over its own tongue isn’t going to gain voter support.

But the loss of so many electorates, especially the provincial and rural ones, both surprises and saddens me. Generally good MPs will  be able to stand firm even if the tide swings against their party.

I am pleased that Shane Reti has a high enough place on the list to retain a seat in parliament although he lost the seat.

One new MP who withstood the red tide is Penny Simmons who has been confirmed as the MP for Invercargill.

Key statistics

  • The total number of votes cast was 2,919,086.
  • The number of special votes was 504,625, 17% of total votes (2017 – 17%).
  • 68% of votes were cast in advance (2017 – 47%).
  • 82.2% of people who were enrolled voted (2017 – 79.8%). This is the highest turnout since 1999 (84.8%).
  • The final enrolment rate was 94.1% (2017 – 92.4%), the highest since 2008 (95.3%).

A high turnout is good for democracy.

Allowing people to enroll on Election Day no doubt helped increase the enrollment rate.

The increase in advance votes might prompt a change in the law that makes Election Day campaign-free.

Labour has the numbers to change the law by itself but such changes ought to be made by consensus and passed by far more than a simple majority.


Maori Party rewriting history

11/02/2020

The National Party is open to working with the Maori Party should it get back into parliament but the Maori Party would prefer to go left:

National Party leader Simon Bridges has talked about a resurgent Māori Party as a potential ally, but it may not have a willing partner, with the Māori Party President Che Wilson indicating a strong preference for Labour.

“We’re clear that our people align more to Labour and so we are open to having a conversation with Labour.

“If we ever do talk to National it will have to be a big deal for us to move that way again,” Wilson said.

“The perception and reputation by aligning with National affected us.”

“It kicked us out and so it would have to be a pretty impressive package for us to consider it,” he said. . . 

It kicked us out? That is rewriting history.

Then Labour leader Helen Clark referred to the Maori Party as the last cab off the rank but National invited it into coalition when it got into government in 2008 even though National didn’t need the support.

National continued to coalesce with the Maori Party even though it voted against the government considerably more often than it voted with it.

Furthermore National didn’t stand candidates in Maori seats whereas Labour did. In the last election Labour won all of them and, since the Maori Party didn’t get 5% of the vote, it was Labour that kicked them out of parliament.

By stating its preference for Labour the Maori Party is staking its ground to the left with NZ First and the Green Party, reducing its leverage should it get back into parliament.

It is also proving there is no one Maori voice.

Should National be in a position to lead the next government both the Prime Minister and deputy will be Maori, but the Maori Party’s preference for Labour shows those Maori voices don’t count for them.

 


Chance for a change?

29/01/2020

One of John Key’s legacies is announcing the election date early in the year.

He did it, Bill English followed his good example and now Jacinda Ardern has done it too.

This year’s election will be on Saturday September 19th, which is the anniversary of New Zealand women gaining the vote.

Will that give the party with a woman leader an advantage?

Who knows? People vote for and against parties and people for a variety of reasons, many of which have little if anything to do with whether or not it will result in good governance.

If history is a guide, the advantage lies with Labour. We haven’t had a one-term government since MMP was introduced, and the last one under FPP was in 1975.

But history also tells us that this is the first time since MMP was introduced that the party with the most votes is in opposition. It also tells us that it is rare for that party to be polling at similar levels of support it got in the last election and more often than not, polling higher than the party leading the government.

So is National in with a chance to win?

Yes but it won’t be easy and it will depend not only on it at least maintaining its support, it will also depends on what happens to the other parties.

New Zealand First has been hovering below 5% in recent polls. If it doesn’t improve on that, it would be out of parliament, unless it wins a seat.

In spite of its vehement criticism of National’s accommodation with Act in Epsom, NZ First might welcome something similar in a seat with Labour that, if it won, would mean it wouldn’t have to get 5%.

Then there’s the Maori Party. A strong candidate could take a seat from Labour and, in spite of National inviting it into government when it didn’t need to, it might go left rather than right.

Nothing is certain, but In spite of Ardern’s vow to lead a positive campaign, she will find it’s very hard to defend the government’s record when so much of its achievements have fallen far short of its rhetoric.


Just say no

27/01/2020

If National had ruled out a deal with New Zealand First three years ago, would the latter have got less than five per cent of the vote and the former still be leading the government?

We’ll never know.

But we do know that around half the people who voted for NZ First hoped the party would go with National and that a lot of them are still very unhappy Winston Peters chose Labour and the Green Party instead.

We also know that while Peters was supposedly negotiating in good faith he was also working on legal action against National’s deputy Paula Bennett and then-minister Ann Tolley.

That tells us, once again, that Peters can’t be trusted.

Simon Bridges has said he will announce well before the election whether or not National will rule out New Zealand First.

I hope he does say no to them which will make it quite clear to voters that a vote for that party is a vote for a Labour-led government.

There are risks.

In spite of their many criticisms of National not trying to win Epsom so that Act will get into parliament, Labour and New Zealand First could come to a similar arrangement in another seat in an attempt to secure an electorate for a New Zealand First candidate. If that worked, NZ First would not need to secure five percent of the vote to stay in parliament.

New Zealand First could get back, with or without an electorate,  and National could have too few seats to form a government without it and so be back in opposition.

But there are bigger risks in not ruling out New Zealand First.

It would send the message to voters that New Zealand First might go with National, even though the chances of that are very, very remote.

It would enable Peters to pretend he’ll listen to voters even though last time more opted for National than Labour.

It would give Peters the power he’s had too many times before to play the bigger parties off against each other and extract too high a price for putting them into government.

The worst day in government is supposed to be better than the best in opposition. But if the choice is government with Peters, I’d opt for opposition.

Tracy Martin says this year feels like the beginning of the end for Peters:

. . .So is it time to write Peters off?  Peters has cleverly played up his part as Labour’s handbrake, just as he once pitched himself as a bulwark against National’s extremes.  It’s how he has survived so long in politics – even after the “baubles of office'” fiasco, or Owen Glenn donations scandal.

But you can only play one side against the other for so long and it feels like Peters has played one too many hands.

So is the extraordinary Peters era coming to an end? He is our most familiar face on television; as recognisable as the theme tune to Coronation Street, as well worn as a pair of old slippers.

 But even soap operas eventually have their day.

National ruling out NZ First would make the end of the Peters soap opera much more likely.

Please, National,  just say no.


Sustainable NZ good in theory but

12/11/2019

Ever since MMP was introduced, New Zealand has been in want of a party that stands for something and sits in the centre, able to coalesce with National to its right or Labour to its left.

The Maori Party could have been that party, but in spite of being the last cab off the rank when Helen Clark led Labour, and in government at National’s invitation its natural home was towards the left.

The many iterations of United Future rarely stood for anything more than keeping its leader, Peter Dunne, in parliament and government.

New Zealand First, similarly stands for keeping Winston Peters in power and his strong antipathy towards National now makes it a natural ally for Labour rather than a true centre party.

The Green Party could have been that centre party if it wasn’t so red. But its hardline social and economic agenda put it to the left of Labour.

Now a new player the Sustainable New Zealand Party has enterer centre stage:

. . .Sustainable New Zealand is neither left nor right wing but is focused on sustainability.  We are able to work with parties of the left or right to get the best deal for the environment. Sustainable New Zealand’s approach is to work with business to innovate and to correctly price ‘externalities’. We will be led by the science when finding solutions and developing policy. Our future will only be sustainable with technological and scientific innovation.

Sustainable New Zealand’s focus is on being ‘practical environmentalists.’ We will work with rather than against our farmers. We favour a regulatory light-touch where possible but with a willingness to act decisively on core issues. We will foster innovation to transition our economy from one that relies on chopping down, digging up, burning or milking something for economic growth to one that is environmentally-benign and makes us all richer. We know that nothing is free. We need to be prosperous to ensure that we can afford to look after our people and our environment. . . 

There’s a lot to like in that and an environmental party that sits in the middle is a good idea in theory, but will it be strong enough to get at least some MPs in to parliament?

One avenue would be to reach an agreement with either Labour or National to allow it to win a seat, the way Act does in Epsom.

But doing that would compromise its ability to work with left or right.

Besides Labour is very unlikely to sour its relationship with the Greens by throwing a seat to a rival and it would be a big risk for National.

Peter Dunne already held the seat when National voters were asked to back him. They did and had to endure three long terms of him supporting Labour governments before National got back into power. He stayed in cabinet and thwarted National’s agenda several times, most notably its attempts to improve the RMA.

Rodney Hide won Epsom by his own efforts, taking it from a sitting National MP who was trying to hold it. Voters have continued to back an Act candidate in the seat but a majority of them give their party vote to National.

Asking a sitting National MP to throw the seat for a Sustainable NZ candidate, or expecting a new National candidate to campaign only for the party vote is a very different and much riskier strategy.

So could Sustainable NZ make it to 5%?

History would say no.

The Progressive Green Party broke away from the red Greens and fielded 15 candidates in the 1996 election but could muster only .26% of the vote.

No new party has made it into parliament without a sitting MP.

However, small parties generally get punished for their performance in government and the Greens will have lost support from both those who think it’s been too left and those who think it hasn’t been left enough.

If enough of the former were joined by those disenchanted by Labour and NZ First and perhaps some of the blue-greens who’ve supported National it might, but the chances of it doing so are slight.

Sustainable NZ has had reasonable publicity since its weekend launch but that will be hard to sustain and it will need a lot of people power and the money they bring to have any hope of turning a good theory into practical electoral success.


National in drag difficult sell

30/05/2018

Two polls this week show the National Party still ahead of Labour with about 45% support.

That is encouraging for National and worrying for Labour.

But the latter has two support parties, although New Zealand First is registering below the 5% and the Green Party is hovering close enough  to the threshold to make it possible it might not make it back into parliament and we’d return to a two-party system in spite of MMP.

Possible isn’t probable and in spite of being the most popular party, National lacks any allies with sufficient support to enable it to form a government with more than 50% of the vote.

Act could gain another MP or two, but it hasn’t managed to do that in recent elections and would have to do so without taking votes from National to make a positive difference.

The Maori Party might win back a seat or two, but that too is more possible than probable.

Finding another party which could either win a seat or cross the 5% threshold would not be easy.

Some are suggesting a National MP leaves the party to form another one. But National in drag would be a very difficult sell for party members and other voters, and would only help if it got votes from the left and not the centre-right.

Tariana Turia managed to win a seat when she left Labour and formed the Maori Party; Winston Peters did it with NZ First; Peter Dunne held his seat under several manifestations of what eventually became United Future and former Labour MP Richard Prebble won a seat for Act but they are the exceptions. Any other MPs that I can recall who left a party and formed another failed to hold their seats.

The other option is standing back and making an accommodation to let a new party, which would take votes from Labour, NZ First and/or the Greens, take a National-held seat.

But that would be very difficult to do and would be entering very dubious territory.

National voters gave electorate votes to Dunne but he was a sitting MP when he formed his own party. Act voters opted for Rodney Hide of their own volition and not because National made an accommodation. They supported him and subsequently David Seymour but didn’t have to vote against a sitting National electorate MP to do so.

Trying to persuade National voters to swap support from an MP they voted in for someone from a new party would be a very different matter.

National is a victim of its own success and any attempt to help another party is likely to backfire and sabotage its own support.

It’s also a victim of the failure of MMP to give us a party in the middle that stands for something and could go centre-right but what can it do about without endangering its own support?


Environment isn’t partisan

27/09/2017

Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger nails it:

He said the Greens might be quietly reflecting on whether they should only link themselves to left-wing politics.

“The environment is neither left wing or right wing, frankly. The environment is the environment, it’s Mother Earth we’re talking about.” . .

If the Greens weren’t really reds they would be in a much stronger position than they are now.

They could sit in the middle, as the Maori Party did, able to go left or right.

It would be they, not New Zealand First, that would be being courted by the major parties.

The Green Party’s environmental policies were lost in the controversy over its radical left-wing social policy regarding welfare. It was delivered by Metiria Turei who lost her co-leadership and ultimately her seat because of it.

The environment isn’t partisan. A party which recognised that would be far more attractive to voters and in a much stronger position than the red Greens are.


It’s only another poll

20/09/2017

This is a good boost for Prime Minister Bill English as he heads into the final leaders’ debate:


Bribe-o-meter

16/08/2017

The Taxpayers’ Union has updated its Bribe-O-Meter which costs party policies;

Opposition parties appear to be spending up to the rafters with sets of policies many times more expensive than the last election. New Zealand First is pushing the boundaries of fiscal free-spiritedness, so far promising $22.9 billion in new spending over the next electoral term. Labour is close behind with $18.9 billion, followed by TOP at $10.7 billion and the Green Party with $8.1 billion.
 
The incumbent governing parties have been much more controlled. Somewhat surprisingly, given the size of the party, United Future has promised the most with $4.7 billion in new spending. The National Party are still keeping the powder dry, promising just $2.5 billion of new spending over the next Parliamentary term.
 
The Maori Party are still yet to release their manifesto, so the costings to date only include IwiRail – estimated at $1.6 billion. ACT is the only party who have promised a net cut in government spending. Its manifesto would see a reduction in spending of $5.4 billion over the next three years.

KEY FINDINGS (AS OF 14 AUGUST):

  • National has promised $2.5 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $1,453 per household.
  • Labour has promised $18.9 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $10,952 per household.
  • The Greens has promised $8.1 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $4,692 per household.
  • New Zealand First has promised $22.9 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $13,291 per household.
  • ACT has promised $5.4 billion in taxpayer savings over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $3,103 in savings per household.
  • United Future has promised $4.7 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $2,737 per household.
  • The Maori Party has promised $1.6 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $899 per household. Although this only includes one policy (the Maori party manifesto is yet to be released).
  • The Opportunities Party has promised  $10.7 billion in new spending over the next parliamentary term. This equates to $6,199 per household. . . .

Labour’s own poll low?

12/07/2017

Last month Labour released results of its own polling to show it was doing better than public polls.

There’s been no release of its own since the 1 News Colmar Brunton poll:

Since the last poll in late May, Mr Little has dropped to fourth behind Bill English, Winston Peters and deputy Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.

Mr Little’s popularity fell by three points to five per cent while Mr Peters jumped four points to 11 per cent.

It’s the lowest result for a leader of the opposition since 2009. . .

National dropped two points to 47 per cent, while Labour dropped three points to 27 per cent.

The Green Party and New Zealand First are both up two points to 11 per cent.

The Maori Party is up one point to 2 per cent and The Opportunities Party is steady on 1 per cent. . .

 

This isn’t an optimal poll for National but it’s far worse for Labour which would only get to 61 seats in a 122 seat parliament with the Green Party and NZ First.

It would only get a majority with Maori Party support as well and that wouldn’t be a recipe for the political equivalent of happy families.

This is only one poll but it continues the trend of low levels of support for Labour and its leader.

That the party hasn’t released its own polling suggests that those results are at least as dismal for it.


Can’t run party, can’t run country

02/05/2017

The release of a party list ought to be a well managed positive PR opportunity.

Labour’s was not.

The seeds of trouble were planted months ago with rumbling’s over leader Andrew Little’s promise of a winnable list position for Willie Jackson.

Another trouble sprouted a few days ago when sitting list MP Sue Maroney announced she would stand down at the election because she wouldn’t have a winnable list position.

This confirms my contention that Labour’s anti-employer sentiments are based on its own mishandling of its people.

On the heels of Maroney’s announcement, the release of the list was delayed because Jackson had a tantrum.

This raises more questions about Little’s judgement and leadership.

Ironically Jackson’s chances of winning will increase if Labour’s sitting MPs in Maori Electorates, who chose not to be on the list, lose their seats to the Maori or Mana Parties.

 Barry Soper sums it up:

 . . .The first public fallout from the current Labour list preparation was the paid parental leave campaigner, 12 year veteran MP Sue Moroney who was a Cunliffe supporter, who said she’d lost the support of the party’s ruling council who’d given her an unelectable position so she’s quitting.

One would have thought before Labour made public when it’d be announcing its list, it would have ironed out those who could have been disgruntled with it. Yet again they’re spilling their guts in public, being forced to delay their announcement until this morning to give them time to either placate Jackson or to send him up the political creek without his waka. . .

The list release debacle reflects poorly on Little and shows Labour still can’t run itself.

If it can’t be trusted to do that it can’t be trusted to run the county.


Election Sept 23

01/02/2017

Prime Minister Bill English has announced that the general election will be held on September 23rd.

He’s following the example of his predecessor John Key who announced the date early.

This gives certainty for everyone about when the regulated period before election day starts, makes it easier for the people who administer the process and takes the politics out of setting the date.

September 23rd is the first day of school holidays but with the freedom for anyone to vote early that shouldn’t be a problem.

Image may contain: 1 person, suit and text

He also spoke of which parties National could work with in the next term should it be in a position to lead a fourth government:

“Under MMP elections are always close so we will be taking nothing for granted as we campaign for the right to lead New Zealand for another term,” says Mr English.

“We will be fighting hard to win every party vote to ensure we are in the best possible position to form a strong and stable Government that continues to deliver for all New Zealanders.

“However, MMP means we will almost certainly have to work with other parties.  This will likely be in the form of confidence and supply agreements, which have worked well for us in the last three terms.”

Mr English said his preference is to continue working with current partners –  ACT, United Future and the Māori Party.

“Together our parties have provided a stable and successful government at a time of great uncertainty in many parts of the world,” says Mr English.

Mr English ruled out working with the Labour-Greens grouping. 

“They are an increasingly far left, inward looking grouping, with no new ideas who don’t back New Zealanders to succeed.

“New Zealand First is an unlikely partner, however I am prepared to have discussions with them post-election depending on the makeup of Parliament,” says Mr English. 

 


MMP votes in middle

01/06/2016

If getting attention was the goal of Labour and the Green Party with their memorandum of understanding they’ve succeeded.

However, attention doesn’t necessarily translate into votes and this strategy could well lose more votes than it gains.

All parties need to keep their core supporters happy, that’s the foundation on which they build electoral success .

All but the most deluded of Greens will understand that if they’re going to be in government it will be a Labour-led one so this arrangement is unlikely to worry them and may even please them.

But the Green Party is on Labour’s left flank and the harder left in Labour might welcome the MoU but the more moderate among its members might be less happy.

On current polling these two parties together still won’t gain enough votes to govern without at least one other party. The Maori Party could go left, but a Labour-Green government will almost certainly need more than the couple of of extra seats that would give them.

That plays into the hands of Winston Peters who is likely to hold the balance of power and who refused to go into coalition with Helen Clark’s Labour-led government if the Green Party was in the mix.

Peters’ past behaviour isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator of what he’ll do in the future. Some of his socialist policies would be more at home in a Labour-Green government than a National-led one.

But he won’t commit himself until after the votes are in and he will seize on the opportunity this new relationship provides to gain votes from undecided voters and those luke-warm to Labour who would rather move towards the centre than the left.

Working together to oppose National makes sense for Labour and the Greens but these two together will still be hard-pressed to outdo Peters, the master of opposition politics.

More overt co-operation could make the two parties look more like potentially viable partners in a coalition.

But their pact only benefits them both and their ambition to be in government if the support they gain together is greater than that they are getting separately.

It is difficult to see that happening when the MoU moves Labour left and under MMP the votes which change governments are in the middle.

 


What makes a good local MP?

27/03/2015

Trusty, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind . . .

These are the character traits a Scout or Guide is supposed to demonstrate. They are also essential character traits for a good MP.

Local MPs haven’t been so local anymore since that MMP has decreased the number of electorates and thereby increased their size but that makes availability and commitment to the electorate and its people even more important.

All of this makes me wonder what the people of Northland are thinking if the TV3 poll is right and 54% of them want Winston Peters as their MP when 48% don’t trust him and 9% don’t know if they trust him.

Why would people vote for someone they don’t trust, who doesn’t live in the electorate,  who will be at least as interested in courting the rest of New Zealand as party leader as he is in the people of Northland and who is coming to the end of a political career distinguished at least as much by controversy as accomplishment?

Contrast that with National’s candidate Mark Osborne who lives in the electorate, is in partnership with his wife in a business in the electorate, has children at school in the electorate and as a backbench MP at the start of a political career would have the time and commitment to serve the people of the electorate.

It is even more puzzling when getting Peters as a part-time electorate MP would give more power to both Peter Dunne and the Maori Party.

. . .Those who vote in Northland tomorrow will not remove National from power whatever happens, but they could shift the balance of power in Parliament from Epsom’s David Seymour, who is safely in National’s pocket, to Peter Dunne and the Maori Party. They will be the real winners if Northland elects Winston Peters. . .

And the losers will be all of New Zealand which needs a strong, stable government and the people of Northland who need a good local MP.


Peters standing to give Invercargill MP at Northland’s expense

27/02/2015

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is standing in the Northland by-election.

. . . He said today that standing in the by-election was not an easy decision, but he had a long held concern for “Northland’s forgotten people”.

National had forgotten Northland for years, and the region was stagnating, Peters said. . .

He will be hoping that Northland voters have forgotten, or never knew, about the vagaries of MMP.

Should he win the seat he will become an electorate MP and the next person on NZ First’s list will get into parliament. That’s Ria Bond from Invercargill.

Quite how Peters will persuade the good people of Northland they will be represented by voting him in as an electorate MP with his reputation for talking big and doing little and in the process losing an MP from their end of the country and gifting parliament one from the other will remain to be seen.

Labour has confirmed Willow-Jean Prime as its candidate, and the Act Party will stand Whangarei orchardist Robin Grieve.

The Green Party and the Maori Party are not standing candidates.

If Labour sabotage their candidate in an attempt to unite opposition votes behind Peters it could happen.

Voters often punish the governing party in a by-election and a new candidate usually doesn’t attract the same level of votes a sitting one did.

The 2014 election results show:

NZ First didn’t bother standing a candidate in Northland last year. Mike Sabin won the seat for National with 18,269 votes and a majority of 9,300 over Prime who got 8,969 votes.

National gained 17,412 party votes; Labour got 5,913 and NZ First 4,546. the Green Party managed to get 3,855 votes and its candidate gained 3,639 votes.

National members in the electorate will select their candidate tomorrow.

The five in contention are: Grant McCallum, Mita Harris, Matt King, Mark Osborne and Karen Rolleston.

 

 

 

 

 


Greens aiming for Mana voters

27/01/2015

Green co-leader didn’t deliver the speech she’d prepared to deliver at the Ratana celebrations but she got the publicity she was seeking from it anyway:

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei launched a stinging attack on John Key in his absence at Ratana today, saying his view of New Zealand’s history was “warped, outrageous and deeply offensive”.

She also said Mr Key was a prime example of the “ignorant, uneducated Pakeha” economist Gareth Morgan had talked about the day before. . .

Ratana elders usually frown upon using the occasion for a political speech, but Ms Turei was unrepentant.

“This is a political event. We need to come here and front up to Maori about our Maori policy, our Treaty policy and explain ourselves. And that’s what I’m doing.”

She said Mr Key had to be taken to task for a “disgraceful way to describe New Zealand’s history”.  . .

The Prime Minister wasn’t there but his deputy was:

Mr English said the Greens were “nasty” on occasion and it didn’t serve them well.

“John Key has developed a very positive relationship with Maori even though there isn’t very strong political support among Maori for National. He has focused on a lot of areas they want him to focus on. So I don’t think the audience will be too impressed by it.” . . .

Nor would those member of the Green Party who take their values, which  include engaging respectfully without personal attacks, seriously.

However, neither the people at Ratana nor Green members were her intended audience.

She was dog whistling to Mana voters.

The chances of Mana returning to parliament now the party doesn’t have an MP are very slight. Turei’s outburst looks like  an attempt to gain its supporters’ attention.

If that’s the strategy it’s a risky one.

Anything aimed at voters from the radical Maori left of the spectrum are likely to scare away more moderate voters towards the centre and make the idea of a Labour-Green government less attractive to both Labour and many of its supporters.

Meanwhile, the Deputy PM showed better manners and a more positive outlook:

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English spoke for National, beginning by acknowledging the iwi leaders at the event and the work of the prophet. The Finance Minister got some laughs when he added that he was also interested in another type of ‘prophet’ – “profit. The one we can tax.”

Mr English also spoke about the privilege he had to be involved in Treaty settlements. He acknowledged Dame Tariana Turia, who was sitting on the paepae, saying he would miss being nagged by her. He said he would also take care of ‘your baby, Whanau Ora.”

He also referred to the relationship with the Maori Party and Maori voters’ preference for Labour.

“They’re not waiting for the government you want – they’re working with the Government you’ve got.”

He said there had been gains under that.

“We’re a long way forward.”

He also nodded at Ratana’s allegiance to Labour. “There’s been discussion about how Ratana votes, we’ll get to that in three years’ time, because there’s young Maori there who need us next week.”

While the Green Party is seeking headlines in opposition National is working with the Maori Party, and other coalition partners, to make a positive difference for all New Zealanders.

 


Election results

20/09/2014

It’s 7pm, polling booths have closed.

Counting of advance votes started at 2pm and should be announced by 8:30.

My predictions (%):

National 48ish

Labour 22ish

Green Party 12ish

NZ First 5ish

Conservative Party 4ish

Maori Party 2ish

Act 2ish

IMP 1ish

United Future .5ish

Official results can be found here.

Predicted results from the Election Data Consortium are here.


Stronger voice for Maori with National

08/09/2014

Helen Clark called the Maori Party the last cab off the rank.

That comment soured relationships between Labour and the Maori Party.

John Key recognised the mana of co-leaders Tariana Turia, Pita Sharples and their party by inviting them into coalition in 2008 and 2011 even though he could have governed without them.

Although it voted with  National for confidence and supply the Maori party often voted against it on other legislation and it has said it could support either a National or Labour government.

But David Cunliffe isn’t prepared to offer them that opportunity:

. . . Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning, Mr Cunliffe said he intended to only include the Green Party and NZ First in any government.

Asked if he was also ruling out the Maori Party, he said he would possibly talk to Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell after the election but “I just won’t have them in Government.”

He did not believe Mr Flavell would opt to side with Labour if it was in a kingmaker position, despite Mr Flavell saying they were open to working with either side and would take their lead from what Maori voters wanted.

“People need to know before the election that a vote for the Maori Party is a vote for the National Party.” . . .

This is the man who earlier in the year was doing a Winston Peters in yeah-nahing over whether he’d work with Internet Mana because it was up to voters to decide.

Now he’s ruling out the much more moderate Maori Party.

He’s probably gambling that this will hurt the Maori Party but the message he’s sending Maori is that they’ll have a much stronger voice and more influence with a National-led government.

Tama Iti has already got that message:

. . .  Iti said he had always supported the Maori Party and had decided to stand to boost the party’s support and because he endorsed the work it had done in government.

“Not very long ago I wouldn’t have thought about it but I see there’s more achievement…with National in terms of the treaty settlements so we have come a long way,” he said.

Having a Maori voice in power had led to gains in areas such as health and social services for Maori and it was important for Maori “to be sitting on the table rather than across the road throwing rocks at each other”. . .

Labour took the Maori seats for granted for years and now it’s ruling the Maori party out of any government it would lead.


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