I have to admit that every time I’m Hongi’d, my soul flutters a little. It is such a unique NZ welcome, it immediately generates an intimacy of greeting between two individuals that is bonding in a way a handshake can never imitate.
I’ve watched MANA grow from the aftermath of the Maori party throwing Hone out to the 200 strong delegation it fronts with this morning.
I believed then and still do now, that the only way a progressive Government can radically restructure away from the neoliberal abomination NZ has been allowed to mutate into was to have a party to the left of the Greens use a sub 5% threshold strategy to change the Parliamentary math so that the Greens & Labour could form a minority Government minus the corrosive brake peddles of NZ First and United.
MANA is the political expression of that belief.
This years AGM is packed with ideas and concepts that fizz with the type of intensity utterly lacking from most mainstream political parties.
Proposals on livelihoods, universal free education, workers rights, climate change, minimum wage, prescription charges, truly free child health care and of course the Feed the Kids Bill are all being discussed with the type of passion reserved for open rebellions.
For a political junkie like me, it’s all a little bit exciting.
The meme that MANA is just a ‘Maori’ party is shown up for the falsehood and lack of media sophistication it always has been by the universality of the policy and a strong number of pakeha and Pacific Island faces at the AGM.
The youngest political Party in Parliament has momentum on the ground and seems to have barely caught its breath before embarking on the election build up. The ambition of the ‘Big Breakfast’ next Wednesday where over 2000 school kids will be feed in South Auckland at an event to promote the Feed the Kids Bill is the sort of audacious political stunt Labour would be pulling if it had the courage of its convictions and a leader who could articulate the reasoning for it without looking puzzled every 5 seconds.
The recession is biting here in Tokoroa. The poverty trap that is devouring an entire generation is forcing people to look for political leadership from a mainstream opposition that seems asleep at the wheel, that could help explain why there are so many present for the Feed the Kids symposium.
There is an anger at the Key Government and bitterness at his policies that you will never hear expressed in the mainstream media, (who are obvious in their absence – I think I am the only media here, although I understand Maori TV may turn up tomorrow). The total lack of their grievances being addressed in any meaningful way is driving the energy in MANA and this is the type of commitment MANA will need to harness if it is to lift its Party vote to a meaningful level where it can hold enough MPs to effect a change of Government.
The jokes about who the GCSB are spying on come flow thick and fast, I am running score cards for Hone Harawira, Annette Sykes, Sue Bradford and John Minto.
I’ll blog later today as the Feed the Kids symposium progresses and blog the AGM tomorrow where the 5 year strategy will be spelt out by Party strategist and leftie guru Matt McCarten.