Greens aiming for Mana voters


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.


Bad day in Government beats best in Opposition


Prime Minister John Key gave a very strong message  at Ratana yesterday:

“I say to the critics what can you achieve from opposition, and the answer is nothing. You achieve things when you are part of the solution not when you are solely carping on about the problems,”

It was directed at Maori Party MP Hone Harawira but could also apply to the Ratana church which traditionally supports Labour.

The links between the Ratana movement and Labour go back a long way. But that isn’t necessarily the best way to operate now, especially under MMP when smaller parties can have greater influence.

Governments work with all sorts of groups irrespective of their political allegiance. But non-political groups which support one party risk being taken for granted by that party and are less likely to achieve much when that party isn’t in power.

It’s a well worn political phrase that a bad day in Government beats the best in Opposition. That’s where the power lies and where the ability to make positive changes.

It’s better for minor parties to achieve some of their aims in Government even if they don’t support all its policies than to achieve nothing in Opposition.

It’s better for groups other than political parties to keep their options open and work with those in power to advance their cause.

Tables turned at Ratana


Even a year ago few would have put money on the chances of  reading this headline and the introductory paragraph :

National receives warm welcome at Ratana

Fri, 23 Jan 2009 8:04p.m.
Today Labour got a telling off and National enjoyed the warmest of welcomes at the annual celebration of Maori prophet TW Ratana’s birthday.

The gathering has a long been an important event on the political calendar and in a  symbolically powerful first, the National Government and the Maori Party walked on to Ratana side-by-side.

The perception of National among Maori has clearly been boosted by its deal making two Maori Party MPs ministers outside of government. . .

. . . “National has achieved for Maori what Labour hasn’t in 80 years,” Rantana elder Ruia Aperahama says.

Labour has been reminded again that taking the Maori vote for granted and scorning the Maori Party was very silly.


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