The winners and losers from Ikaroa-Rawhiti

By   /   June 30, 2013  /   6 Comments

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Despite the win Labour continues its long slow decline which has been evident for several years now. Instead of revitalizing and rejuvenating itself with a move to the left after its 2008 election defeat the party stills clings fearfully to the same market-based, neo-liberal policies which have hammered so many of its natural supporters.

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Parekura Horomia’s personal popularity in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate had given Labour such a huge majority that it was deemed impossible to overcome in yesterday’s byelection so by conventional wisdom the election was Labour’s to lose and the real race was for second between Mana and the Maori Party.

And so it turned out to be with Labour – on 45% of the vote – gaining a comfortable win over Mana (25%) and the Maori Party (20%) but with a much reduced majority.

Parekura’s presence still weighed heavily on the electorate and as the largest party Labour was able to pour profile, people and resources into a single electorate which they are unable to do in a general election.

I predicted two weeks ago that Mana was the party to watch (not just because I’m a co-vice President of Mana) after spending a day canvassing in Gisborne and I’ve no doubt my experience there will be reflected in votes for Mana in this Te Hamua Nikora stronghold.

So what does the election mean for each of the parties?

Despite the win Labour continues its long slow decline which has been evident for several years now. Instead of revitalizing and rejuvenating itself with a move to the left after its 2008 election defeat the party stills clings fearfully to the same market-based, neo-liberal policies which have hammered so many of its natural supporters.

Labour is running on empty, nervous of further decline but more fearful of what business will say if it adopts worker-friendly policies. The party is scared of its own shadow. It’s still held in the grip of its 1980s MPs who, by refusing to abandon policies which drive inequality, are fighting for their political legacy. They are in denial that all of their political lives have been a betrayal of traditional Labour supporters.

The Maori Party also continues its decline after getting into bed with National in 2008. Prime Minister John Key even endorsed the Maori Party candidate Na Raihania in the byelection which probably lost Na a few more votes. He was second last time – third this time. The Maori Party could be looking at electoral oblivion next year with Tariana Turia retiring, Te Ururoa Flavell likely to be defeated by Mana President Annette Sykes in Waiariki and Pita Sharples facing a determined challenge from both Mana and Labour in Tamaki Makaurau.

Some commentators have suggested Mana and the Maori Party get together because they say there is only room for one independent Maori Party in parliament. (Why does no-one suggest there is no room for two Pakeha parties?)

It all comes down to policy and these parties have diverged significantly since Hone Harawira left the Maori Party. Getting together again would be possible however if the Maori Party adapted its policies to the more broadly supported Mana policies.

For Green candidate Marama Davidson the election was a personal victory. She will have ensured herself a winnable list placing for next year’s general election.

I think the most exciting development from the election was Mana candidate Te Hamua Nikora’s ability to enthuse and engage young Maori about politics.

I wrote recently that the problem with New Zealanders is not so much apathy about politics but disillusionment that they can change anything by voting. Te Hamua has shown young Maori at least a different view. Through his larger than life personality, his enthusiastic use of social media and his “I’m not a C.E.O – I’m a B.R.O” approach he brought a welcome breath of fresh air to politics for young New Zealanders.

Let’s hope it’s the start of a trend.

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6 Comments

  1. Noah C says:

    Kia ora John, while I agree with you about Te Hamua Nikora’s ability to connect with people, the fact remains – voter turnout was low.

    The losers in this byelection are voters. Despite the very high quality candidates, the very professional campaigning and the agreement by the main candidates not to resort to personal attacks, Maori Roll voters remain disillusioned, not with the candidates, but with Maori political leadership and a political process that marginalises and divides more than unites.

    Unless a major game changer occurs inside that process over the next 12 months expect to see a repeat of this byelection in the 2014 General Election.

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    • fambo says:

      “The losers in this byelection are voters” – Rather, those who didn’t vote

      I think the low turnout by Maori is actually a bad look. All four candidates had good qualities and they all put a huge amount of effort into connecting with the electorate and encouraging them to vote. There were plenty of opportunities for voters in that electorate to vote ahead of the day. I think a good amount of the responsibility for the low turnout has to lie with those who didn’t bother to vote. In other countries people put their lives on the line to vote in situations where their vote is one of 40-80-100 million voters and the calibre of quality, honest candidates is way lower. I don’t really believe there is any sound argument to declare cynicism as a reason not to vote.

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  2. Countryboy says:

    Dear John Minto . I like you a lot man . You’re a brave guy and you have a good heart , as does Hone . It takes no small amount of bottle to do and say and believe the way you do .

    I was going to write this …

    I think …( well , some might argue otherwise and even I have my doubts sometimes . Like , I just disemboweled my sun porch ? I have no idea why ? )

    …I’d be interested in anyone else who thinks the Left / Right argument is an anachronism . non-accurate and misleading and there needs to be a re-definition of the concept because it’s only scaring and confusing people .

    How about Right and Wrong ? Black and White ? Good and Evil ? ( Settle down , you Christians ! )

    What’s evolving out of this mess is more than opposing points of view agreeing to disagree to achieve the same thing , and that is a harmonious way of life for good people .

    We’re witnessing a new awareness . A New thing . What’s growing , like a tumor inside us Kiwis isn’t political , that’s my feeling .

    We’re hating each other and hurting each other but perhaps worst of all , we’re loathing and despising ourselves in increasing numbers . What is that about ?

    On the one hand you have a bunch of people who want to eat sausages ( For you recent arrivals , that’s the intestines of an animal , usually a ruminant stuffed with minced , mysterious parts of itself ) burned on cast iron while their children go unsupervised around a body of water held in place by various synthetic materials and on the other hand you have a bunch of mean , miserable fuckers hell bent on making the aforementioned as poor , as unhappy and as afraid as possible . That’s more than Left leaning versus Right leaning politics . That’s some weird shit actually .

    I reckon it’s time the Right and the Left in the bizarre world of politics has a meeting of what might masquerade as minds and grow the fuck up !

    … but instead I’ll write this .

    Run . Run . Run . Hide . Hide . Hide .

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  3. DavidJ says:

    I agree with you summation John. Mana clearly was able to create energy around its election, I’m confident if near 100% turnout had been achieved it would have been even closer between mana and labour.
    However with voter turnout so low it is going to be a huge question for the left and particularly Mana, as to how to connect with them. I, for my part will be doing my best to support Mana’s presence at demonstrations, community and workers struggles. But I am optimistic, Mana was the party they wished to strangle in the cradle, and now they wish to make out its allying with the Maori party.
    This by elections was a vindication of Mana’s policies and I believe will give us the impetuous, along with other struggles, to push for an even more radical policy platform.

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  4. Deirdre Kent says:

    John what you say is really true and your blog shows your essentially good nature. The tragic thing about today’s politics is that so few understand that unless you change the money system you change nothing, because it constantly transfers wealth from the poor to the rich. The tax system also concentrates wealth with landowners and banks. So both these issues have to be addressed. I have today put my blog up on the topic at http://neweconomics.net.nz/index.php/2013/06/reform-of-tax-and-money-system-essential-for-narrowing-gap-and-bringing-jobs/

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