Pita Sharples pays for Maori Party coming 3rd in by-election

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John+Key+Attends+New+Government+Ministry+Appointment+k0MwRZA-2VvlThe sudden stepping down as leader of the Maori Party by Pita Sharples should come as a surprise to no one.

The battle for second place in the Ikaoroa-Rawhiti by-election seems to have surprised the Maori Party and that in itself speaks volumes. The rise of MANA and what MANA represents has caught the Maori Party off guard.

The strategy of sitting at the table has yielded the Maori Party some gains, but the cost of eating dead political rat after dead political rat has been electorally unpalatable.

The Maori Party’s vote share didn’t dip much, but they are now running at a base vote threshold and are not resonating with the younger demographic MANA connects with, that means they are no longer the future.

Pita stepping down is an attempt to find a future.

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There has been much chatter that a MANA – Maori Party could come together, and that’s entirely possible, but only if the Maori Party moved to the left. The pulling power of MANA is that it recognizes the economic structure is part of problem and requires significant changes of focus if it is to be harnessed to resource the universal social infrastructure.

The Maori Party may have formed from the seeds of indigenous politics, but the interests it has tried to represent and further at the table with Key have been Corporate Iwi brandishing a capitalism as empty as Pakeha capitalism.

Class has played a larger factor in the MANA – Maori split than many pundits want to acknowledge because that would require a debate of some political sophistication, and we don’t really do that much in NZ. As inequality grows, as 800 000 NZers live in poverty while 29 000 NZers own 16% of everything, class will drive the politics.

Pita Sharples is a great NZer and a strong voice for Maori, but one can’t help but think he was outplayed by John Key who always needed the relationship to make National look far more moderate and inclusive than they really are. The National Party/Maori Party relationship was political camouflage that would always wear off once the credibility of the Maori Party had been worn through.

The problem for National is that they watch another coalition partner grow weaker and increasingly have to consider NZ First or throwing Colin Craig a cup of tea in Rodney to form a majority post 2014.

Pita stepping down is a realization of how corrosive the National Party relationship has been. You can’t stand for the people on the bottom of the heap when you are sitting at the table with the agents of that oppression.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I hope there is a peaceful transfer of allegiance from the Maori party to the Mana party and no one throws their toys because that would play right into labours hands. I don’t see an agreement working where Mana and Maori coexist the only solution is for Maori Party to become part of Mana and create a powerful political machine that can challenge labour.

    • …except of course that Mana and the Maori Party are vastly different.
      Perhaps the Maori Party should team up with United Future, both of them have more in common (and I’m not referring to the fact that both are disappearing).
      Mana share more similarities with the Greens – politically, ideologically, economically and culturally. Why else do you think Hone attached his parliamentary votes to the Greens when he was not in Wellington?
      Some Maori Party voters will move to Mana.
      As for those crumb-snatching Maori Party MPs, well, they can join the beneficiaries that they have kicked during the past 2 terms…and if they do get a new job, I hope they get fired within the first 90 days

      • I think both political parties don’t align with Mainstream party’s they are more interested in each other as they both have ambitions of Maori self-determination that United future and Greens are no interested in the slightest.

        • I don’t see how.
          Here’s the Green’s policies regarding Maori issues here. Add to that the Greens’ economic, social, educational policies, and you will see the similarities with Mana. Plus Mana’s environmental policies are similar to the Greens – you can download Mana’s environmental policies here.

          As for United Future and the Maori Party, I’d admit that their Maori Policies differ, but I’d also argue that in the end, both party’s centre-right position offers nothing more than a perpetuation of our Pakeha-defined biculturalism.
          The Maori Party and United Future both believe in centre-right ‘third way’ policies as a way to decentralise welfare (e.g. United Future – NGOs, Maori Party – Whanau Ora). Both are ways of privatising welfare, and furthering the concept of individual responsibility.
          Bryce Edwards gives a deeper explanation of how our current versions of Maori self-determination and neoliberalism are one in the same.
          Mana and the Maori Party are just not comparable. The Maori Party are far more mainstream than they are portrayed, especially in their outcome.

  2. As I see it the boundary between the Maori and Mana parties is precisely on the question of working with NatACT. Mana will never do so, and would probably only work grudgingly with the current Labour at arm’s length, to get rid of the Key regime. Māori Party, like United Dunne or Winston First, will prop up any coalition that will have them. An accomodation of any kind between Mana and Māori Party seems impossible, as they represent fundamentally different ideas about how Māori can benefit from representation in parliament.

    I think the bi-election result, Sharples falling on his sword, and the fact that Flavell is could be left as another caucus of one (assuming he can keep his seat), in a party which at its height had 5 electorate MPs, shows quite clearly which of the two parties is in growth, and which is in decline.

  3. For a short time the Maori Party were talking sense -peak oil, genuine progress index, real protection of the environment- but then the leadership decided to sell out for a few trinkets.

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