GUEST BLOG: Robin Aldridge-Sutton – Dont dismiss a possible Maori Party-Mana Movement alliance



A lot of people shared this article on my facebook feed recently, Behold, Māori politics’ great realignment. Or, don’t believe the hype.  Clickbait alert – Morgan Godfery suggests the latter option.  But I didn’t really like it.  

Morgan starts off listing all the naughty words Hone Harawira has ever said, which would certainly be serious offenses in any kindergarten.  Harawira is obviously no saint, and his decision to go with Dotcom is still a mystery to me, but most of what he’s said is pretty reasonable in context.  John Howard’s treatment of Aborigines was racist.  Phil Goff helped rip off the foreshore and seabed.  The tobacco lobby couldn’t be anything other than a bunch of pricks.  White people have been stealing land from Maori and exploiting it for centuries.  And John Key stopping Maori MPs attending a national Maori hui is patronizing and offensive.  

The media love reporting on Harawira’s language because it’s easy to get an emotional reaction from readers without taking any risks, or doing any journalistic work getting into the important issues that he is one of the few politicians who has the guts to talk about.  It’s a shame to see someone of Morgan’s status perpetuating it.  In fact Morgan obviously doesn’t get it because he goes on to say it’s puzzling why Harawira is so popular among Maori, and puts it down to his being a hard-worker.

Morgan displays an impressive knowledge of the interesting history of Maori support for the Labour party, in order to claim that a possible Maori Party-Mana Movement alliance doesn’t matter.  Most of that is irrelevant and smacks of that old irrational devotion so common in Labour party supporters who never acknowledged their party’s turning away from poor people in the 80s.  

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I guess another word for it is loyalty.  Morgan is a member of no party but worked for Parekura Horomia and Rino Tirikatene, who both certainly would have inspired it.

What are relevant are the numbers who voted for the relevant candidates in the Maori electorates in 2014.  I’ll put them at the bottom.  Ikaroa-Rawhiti, Tamaki Makaurau, Te Tai Hauauru, Te Tai Tokerau, and Te Tai Tonga, would all be pretty close, but a Maori-Mana alliance would have turned over three of them on those numbers.  

If Labour’s history with Maori didn’t win them more votes last election, why would it this time?  Have they promised to give back the foreshore and seabed, or compensate for it?  Have they unveiled any policies to get the atrocious numbers of Maori out of our prisons and into decent jobs?  Have they promised to chase up the billions in tax being avoided by rich white people, and stop the war on disproportionately nonwhite beneficiaries?  These are the arguments I’d love to hear Labour supporters like Morgan making, not the sadly faded history of a progressive Labour Party.

Obviously the numbers would and will be different.  But it is clear to an unbiased observer that the possibility of an alliance does matter.  In fact it has the potential to win 6 seats, which could make for a much more progressive government, as Martyn Bradbury recently pointed out.  Labour would get the same number of MPs because of MMP, and NZ First could be excluded from government.

So Morgan’s probably right that some people are blowing this out of proportion, but there is still plenty of hype worth getting excited about.

2014 Maori Electorate Candidate Votes


CULLEN, Susan MAOR 4,496

GREENSILL, Angeline Ngahina MANA 3,116

MAHUTA, Nanaia LAB 12,191



FOX, Marama MAOR 3,848

NIKORA, Te Hāmua MANA 5,080

WHAITIRI, Meka LAB 9,753


Tāmaki Makaurau

HENARE, Peeni LAB 7,533

McLEAN, Rangi MAOR 6,071

PENE, Kereama MANA 2,624


Te Tai Hauāuru

McKENZIE, Chris MAOR 6,535

RURAWHE, Adrian LAB 8,089

WINIATA, Jordan MANA 1,940


Te Tai Tokerau

DAVIS, Kelvin LAB 9,712


PAENGA, Te Hira MAOR 2,579


Te Tai Tonga

BEYER, Georgina MANA 1,996

BUTTON, Ngaire MAOR 4,891




FLAVELL, Te Ururoa James MAOR 9,726

SYKES, Annette MANA 5,482

WAITITI, Rawiri LAB 5,837


Robin Aldridge-Sutton recently returned to New Zealand to study data science after five years teaching English in South Korea.


  1. “Harawira is obviously no saint, and his decision to go with Dotcom is still a mystery to me”

    It’s not that mysterious. It’s called coalition-building. Harawira wanted National to lose. As well as winning in his own electorate, he had successfully pulled away half of the National-supporting Māori Party vote in 2011, but that still wasn’t enough to bring in another MP. Joining forces with other small parties that also wanted National to lose so he could bring in more MPs on his coat-tails made sense. I know of a number of small parties that decided not to run a party list, and encouraged their supporters to vote Internet-Mana or Greens to help defeat National and pull Labour back to the left.

    It would have worked too, if it wasn’t for that smug prick Kelvin Davis. He can cry all the crocodile tears he likes about the suffering of Māori in private prisons, but if he hadn’t joined in the NatACT-driven smearing of Harwira and DotCom, National would have lost, and a new government could have started the process of cancelling the private prison experiment. At the end of the day, like John Key, Davis did what was good for Kelvin Davis, not for his party, not for the country, for himself. I hope he’s learned his lesson and campaigns for the party vote only next year, because his winning the electorate in 2017 would be as bad for Labour’s chances of becoming government as they were in 2014.

    Oh, and as for Godfrey’s comment that “Dotcom is helping elect Donald Trump”, I presume he means that he didn’t support Clinton. But by wording it ambiguously enough to make it sound like DotCom actually supported Trump is a filthy smear. If DotCom helped sink Clinton in any way, along with Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, John Pilger and plenty of other principled activists and journalists, then I say good for him. Not because I like that egomaniac Trump, but because Clinton was a right-wing, Wall St-owned warmonger, who used dirty politics to manipulate the Democratic primary process, stopping a much better candidate from defeating Trump. She was the US equivalent of the Rogernomics Labour government, and she deserved to lose. That Godfrey is willing to smear people to defend her just shows how politically ignorant some of Labour’s Clark-era apparatchiks really are.

    • Another great comment Strypey. Agree with you on this analysis.

      Had a conversation with a friend a while ago about the use of swearing, which completely turns her off listening to content.

      Pointed out that some of the most violent phrases can be said politely sans swearing:
      “You can no longer see your friends and family”
      “Entitlements replaced with Jobseekers Allowance”
      “Pre-emptive strikes”

      Many people use swearing as adjectives and why not?

      Dismissing views because of vocabulary is a method of dismissing people from conversations.

    • Nice comment. I understand the motivations, it just seems to me like a big and fairly obvious blunder. They could have worked together without making a formal coalition and taking on a foreign capitalist as a patron, and losing Sue Bradford.

      • >> They could have worked together without making a formal coalition and taking on a foreign capitalist as a patron, and losing Sue Bradford. <<

        No, they couldn't. As I said, the strategic goal was to try to bring more anti-National MPs into Parliament. The two parties could only pool their vote to achieve that with a formal coalition.

        Labour have plenty of capitalists patrons, and so do the Greens, and NZ First (remember Owen Glenn?). Dissing Mana for doing the same thing, when they were in a much harder position, is a huge double standard. Besides, when you actually look at DotCom's history, and his positions on health and education, information freedom, surveillance etc, he is well to the left of Labour, and even the Greens (some of them voted for the Harmful Digital Censorship Act). Despite the mass media spin against Dotcom, which many on the left seem to have swallowed hook, line, and sinker, Internet was actually a good fit for a coalition with Mana.

        As for Sue Bradford, like Kelvin Davis, she did what was right for Sue Bradford. She could have stayed with Internet-Mana, and helped make sure the details of the coalition leaned in the right policy directions. Instead, she decided to protect her personal brand and handed the mass media a stick to beat Internet-Mana with, helping them present the new coalition as a desperate, unprincipled stitch-up (even while they presented National's accomodation with ACT in Epson as clever strategy and coalition building). I have a lot of respect for Sue, and I know she did what she thought was right at the time, but I still think she was wrong.

        • One option that comes to mind was dissolving the internet party and folding them into Mana, minus Dotcom. But perhaps it’s a matter of semantics.

          It still seems clear that the connection with Dotcom hurt Mana badly, and that this was quite foreseeable. I agree that he has been demonised and that he and the Internet party had a lot of good points. But I think that any real progressive working-people’s party, including Labour and the Greens, should reject donations from super-rich capitalists.

  2. Is the internet a bit slow in Korea? Posted a post ages ago and its still not up but others are?

    Is there as problem with democracy or the comment?

  3. “Have they promised to give back the foreshore and seabed”

    The Foreshore and Seabed was replaced by John key’s Marine and Coastal Act 2011, that the Maori party were happy to support. Many people, including Hone Harawira viewed it as an act of betrayal. It is the reason why Hone walked away from the Maori party.

    In an interview with Willy Jackson, Winston Peters was very informative about the Foreshore and Seabed bill. Peters said; “all the coastal iwi supported the coastal legislation because they were talked to beforehand and you all remember, people like Api Mahuika, the Ngati Porou leader saying that over and over again and then of course as I said the Maori party went silent. ”

    Waatea 5th Estate – Labour vs NZ First – the fight for Maori votes

    Winston Peters @ 11:49 sec

    Willy Jackson acknowledged it was a fair point.

  4. It will never happen:
    No. 1 The egos on both sides are too big.
    No. 2 The Maori party are in bed with National.

    End of story.

  5. Labour have for many years not deserved the support of Maori. In south Auckland they have had some pretty useless candidates who sat on their backsides and did nothing. That suited Labour, don’t rock the boat, that is the job of a backbencher.

    When it comes to the election there they are in those electorates, ensuring Maori and PI give them what they think they own, the votes, shame on them all.

  6. “Harawira is obviously no saint, and his decision to go with Dotcom is still a mystery to me”

    Wasn’t his decision. The Mana members decided. If you’re going to write a blog on this then do some simple research

Comments are closed.