Did Gareth Morgan At Ratana Just Demonstrate Political Nous?


Having witnessed yesterday’s excitement at Ratana, I am starting to wonder whether Gareth Morgan may actually be a surprisingly good political strategist.

Consider this: year in and year out, New Zealand First manages to cobble together an impressively diverse coalition of opinion ranging from rednecks to Rangatiratanga enthusiasts. Proof of this can be seen in the fact that the Party’s strongest performing electorate seats are in fact the Maori Seats [seriously – look it up], while simultaneously the Hobson’s Pledge organization offers us money.

It’s not always easy keeping these two sectors of voter opinion on-side and moving in the same direction – particularly when the rhetoric required to wrangle them can wind up being fairly diametrically opposed [consider, for instance, Winston Peters angrily pointing to his personal record fighting against what he called the largest government confiscation of Maori land in history … and then juxtapose that against his customary advocacy for going back to the legislative situation of the 2004 Foreshore & Seabed legislation – which, perhaps ironically, has *also* been called the largest Crown confiscation of Maori land in history, thanks to a legislative provision written by Winston himself].

I believe that Morgan has realized that there is an ‘exploitable’ fault-line here. Hence his references in his Ratana speech today to Winston and NZF’s previous record.

The objective he must have in mind by drawing attention to NZF’s “Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Deletion Bill” effort from yesteryear – particularly at one of the highest political pilgrimage sites in Maoridom – must surely be to attempt to back Winston into a corner. Forcing Winston to either choose to double down upon his previous rhetoric and stances in opposition to Maori politics (with the consequent risk of alienating Maori support from NZF) – or to ameliorate his anti-‘Separatism’ (or “Apartheid” to use Winston’s own somewhat hyperbolic wording) positioning in order to keep Maoridom on-side.

It will be interesting to see whether Morgan continues along this present line of attack for the rest of the Treaty Politics summer season. And, for that matter, in what direction (if any) this bears fruit – certainly with MANA looking to be back in contention this year, there is a possibility of NZF losing votes in other directions.

Although one could argue that Morgan’s attack may represent a fundamental misreading of what we’re about here in NZ First – and, for that matter, why we’ve continued to prove so undeniably popular to so many Maori voters and communities regardless of some of our previous actions and rhetoric.

New Zealand First stands for a unitary nationalism. Its very Caucus and membership embodies this concept (with the former being about 50% Maori, and the latter representing possibly the greatest concentration of Maori parliamentary-political activism in the recent MMP era outside of the Maori Party at its founding – seriously, attending an NZ First Convention is an exercise in applied biculturalism in more ways than one). And, as Morgan pointed out today, one in five NZ First voters are Maori. This would appear to suggest that there is a rather significant current out there in Maoridom who empathize quite strongly with what we’re about.

With this in mind, it is possible that Morgan’s efforts will have perhaps less impact upon NZF and our actual support base than he might anticipate – instead reprsenting something of a pantomime performance to project values to other parts of the electorate.

Besides, if the sympathetic media coverage (gosh, there’s an odd phrase to be associating with Winston) from today is anything to go by – Winston may be “too big to fail” as he continues to snowball towards the Election; with intriguing points of scrutiny being as molotovs against Poseidon.


  1. “New Zealand First stands for a unitary nationalism.”

    “An NZ First Convention is an exercise in applied biculturalism in more ways than one”

    Maori and non-Maori working together in a political party to stop any application of the principle of Maori being a separate entity that is one party to a Treaty between them and non-Maori is not bi-culturalism in action. It is mono-culturalism based on the notion that there is no separation between Maori and non-Maori.

    There are definitely plenty of mostly older Maori who subscribe to the idea of one New Zealand just like a lot of non-Maori in the same age group. Both were brought up and educated on the notion, while the Treaty of Waitangi gathered dust.

  2. White mans burden and all that. Not a vote winner. It’s one thing for someone like myself to come on here laying out my beef with the Maori Party…but to publicly question Maori on their support for another Maori is quite bizarre. Calling someone an Uncle Tom..nope.

    The shame of it is this carry on is getting the headlines, while Gareths policies directed at Maori are being ignored. This article and this comment being perfect examples.

  3. What will happen to all the unproductive maori owned land, unsuitable for development, but escalating out of control in value thanks to our policy of offering everything for sale to the wealthy elite of the world, when Gareth’s capital gains tax kicks in?

  4. Not a smart move bagging Winston he is quite well liked by the average Maori voter, Winston is not anti the TOW, he is anti the Treaty Gravy Train.

    Winston is pro Maori but wants Maori to lift themselves out of the mire as well, as per usual the media frame Winston in a bad light.

    Is Gareth Morgan sponsored by ACT or the National Party, even Winston was gobsmacked at Ratana by Morgan’s outburst?

    • Disagree.

      Winston gets a free ride from all sides. He tells story’s and has created a Cult of Personality around himself. No one even dares to call him out for his hypocrisy (nearly 40 years on the tax payers teat, yet ‘does not covet the baubles of power’) because both sides know deep down they’ll probably have to suck a lemon and make a coalition with him if they want to rule the cheque book.

      I have no time for Gareth and even less for Winston, but good to see someone at last giving it to him. Gareth didn’t land a clean hit, but the media were talking about him so that’s pretty good for a political rookie.

      BTW was Andrew even there??

    • Jack. You are onto it. Morgan is patronising to Maori and he was plain downright insulting to Rt.Hon.Winston Peters. The man cannot even observe protocol as an aspirant politician, by his dress code and lack of a tie. He probably voted for a flag change.

      CAR must be switching again.

  5. Gareth Morgan actually went down in my estimation with his performance at Ratana. Now I see him as just another pakeha who thinks Maori need his wisdom to be saved.

  6. Gareth and Winston are actually very similar in their politics ,they are both experts at the art of political “dog whistles” .if you are putting your faith in either of these two to improve our country you will be disappointed,Gareth is a bored multi millionaire ,and winston is a bored pensioner,hardly the sorts of people needed to make changes to benefit all of the people of our great country.

  7. Rolinson. Your writing in this article meets my expectations again. Your articles are too often random , disjointed, inconsistent and irritating embued with an arrogance by way of subliminal suggestion. Do not assume your observations and opinion are those of mine or other subscribers to ‘ the daily blog ‘.
    Where do your loyalties lie CR??? You run with the hares and run with the hounds.
    I suggest you show me your hand and declare your long term commitment with your aspirations.

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