GUEST BLOG: Willie Jackson – Wrong move from the Maori Party


The move from the Maori Party to have Tainui King Tuheitia endorse their candidate Rahui Papa in the Hauraki-Waikato seat is one of the most selfish and saddest political strategies I have ever witnessed in Maori politics.

Now that’s not because Rahui isn’t a good candidate, we all know he is an exceptional person who has served his King and tribe well. However, the strategy is selfish and sad because it has split the kingitanga movement right down the middle forcing supporters to choose between two of their most popular leaders. There is no doubt that many kingitanga supporters are furious with the Maori party so the endorsement strategy from the King looks like it could backfire badly.

Also, you have to wonder if Tuku Morgan and his team have thought this out properly. You see, when Rahui loses this election, what does that say about the King’s word? Don’t they realise that this is 2017 and not 1917?

Maori no longer live on the marae – they live in townships and in the city, and they cannot be directed to vote by anyone.

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Does Rahui’s team know how many votes they have to take off Nanaia? She beat the Maori party candidate Susan Cullen by 7,695 votes last time. So for him to win the seat, he needs to firstly retain the 4,498 votes they won, then take all 3,116 people who voted for Mana, then hope that Nanaia’s supporters abandon her in their thousands.

That’s how tough it is for Rahui Papa to win, when you analyse the numbers needed to beat Nanaia it really looks like Mission Impossible.

So it stuns me when I hear so-called experts say that Nanaia Mahuta will lose the seat. Any fool can see that the seat is not marginal, in fact I would bet that King Tuheitia himself would not be able to beat Nanaia – that’s how strong she is.

So you’ve got to ask the question, how stupid are the Maori Party and what have they said to Rahui, one of Maoridom’s most prominent tribal leaders, to make him think that he could possibly beat Nanaia?

Obviously, he is hoping that Tuheitia’s endorsement will be enough to get him over the line, but I think it’s very optimistic of him to think that voters would be so naïve to follow the King’s directions. I mean, why would they? There are numerous examples in recent times of Tainui members directly opposing the King’s recommendations and this political endorsement won’t be any different.

In fact it is a huge risk from Rahui to put the mana of Kingitanga on the line. Or in simple terms, the mana of his King. It’s also particularly saddening the way that the King has chosen to portray Nanaia as a woman who has lost mana by being with the Labour Party.

No amount of back-tracking and spin from Rahui and his supporters can deny the fact that they indeed have questioned the mana of Nanaia. And as for all the waffle and spin that the Kingitanga has always been political, this is simply untrue.

The most famous monarch of our lifetime, Tuheitia’s mum, the great Te Atairangikaahu, made her mark by being absolutely apolitical. In her forty years as Queen which made her the longest serving monarch, she worked closely with the National and Labour parties, as well as having special relationships with people like Parekura Horomia, Jim Bolger, Winston Peters and of course with her niece, Nanaia Mahuta.

We never knew who she voted for and kingitanga’s popularity soared, particularly in her last decade as the Queen. That is all in jeopardy now as Kingitanga supporters wonder what on earth they are going to do after the King’s sad decision to abandon his cousin Nanaia and endorse his Chairman, Rahui Papa.

I have a lot of respect for Nanaia however, it is no secret that she and I have been political rivals.

In 2002 I ran against her in a sometimes acrimonious campaign, and I have been critical of her in my time as a political commentator. So there has been no love lost between us over the years but Nanaia always gave as good as she got.

She is a sharp and tough cookie and has inherited many of the skills of her brilliant father, the former chief negotiator for Tainui, the late Bob Mahuta.

She is my tribal negotiator for Ngati Maniapoto so as my advocate, and now as a new Labour party member, she has my full support.

I have already communicated that support to her and given that a quarter of the vote is in South Auckland, I look forward to mobilising that vote and ensuring that she stays as the Member of Parliament for the Hauraki-Waikato.


  1. Good piece from Willie.

    Nanaia Mahuta has more strength, class and presence than the whole of Parliament and possibly kingitanga put together. She is a born leader and it’s always been my hope that one day she will lead the Labour party. I know folk in her electorate and they speak very highly of her.

    Mana comes naturally to Nanaia, it’s in her DNA, something the present king seems to be lacking, much to his detriment.

    As for the king, I feel he could be in the clutches of his PR man Tuku Morgan, who is chairman of the Maori Party. Some influence there perhaps?

    The king’s late mother must be turning in her grave at his present behaviour of not remaining politically neutral!

  2. I just wish we had a Nanaia Mahuta living up here in this area. She’d get my vote hands down.

    Probably one of the most sensible, no nonsense politicians we currently have in NZ. Labours lucky to have her.

    Dunno about you though Willy ….

    Mwhahaha !!!!


    Just kidding mate.

    …. oops….

  3. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it, Willie. It immediately made me wonder about the credibility and value of the Kingitana.

    Yes, I am a pakeha and readily admit I see things through pakeha eyes and my knowledge of things Maori is wobbly at best (though I try to keep up with current affairs).

    In our pakeha Kingitanga (the British Monarchy stuff) there is a long tradition of the Monarch being strictly apolitical. There is a very good reason for that. The Monarch is seen as the ultimate ruler of the realm who is above political shenanigans and interference. It’s quaint and strange BUT IT WORKS!

    The wonderfully wise and compassionate Te Atairangikaahu, as you point out, was absolutely apolitical. Because of that my pakeha brain saw her as a true Monarch (and a delightful character) and incredibly important to Maori and pakeha alike.

    Tuheitia’s ghastly inappropriate political comments are not just horrible for Nanaia Mahuta (who strikes me as a good MP) but bring great disrespect on the Kingitanga itself. What kind of a King would make such a comment? Not a proper one anyway.

    My pakeha political mind has always seen the Maori Party as National Party supporters. Judge ’em by their actions; how many years of Tory government have they enabled?

    It’s such a tragedy that they have now sunk so low as to bring the whole Kingitanga into disrepute. I really hope some way is found to sort this out because it affects all Kiwis, brown and grey…

  4. I do not think that Tuku Morgan has ever represented poorer Maori,
    his arrogance shows. It is sad that the Maori King does not see this.

  5. the Maori King has been very sick maybe he is vulnerable and his whanaunga is taking advantage. I am very sadden as we are splitting our Maori votes. However if our people vote strategically as I have always tried to do we can get two Maori in parliament. For example I normally vote for Hone but he is gonna be gifted the seat so he doesnt need my party vote he needs to win his electorate. I’m in the maori electorate and I voted for Whaitiri I think she has been working hard for our people and the people from her area she deserves to get back in but I cant say the same for some of the men in her party haven’t heard much of many of them while our people and some of our Pakeha whanau have been suffering unnecessary.

  6. It’s a bad move for the Labour Party!

    Let’s face it – she’s useless: Sat in parliament for years and done basically nothing. So it’s time for a change.

    Labour seems to think it owns the brown vote but clearly it doesn’t. In addition to the above there is a growing number of aspirational Pacifica in South Auckland who are realising the Labour just seeks to keep them in the ghetto, passive and voting for Labour.

    • I think about a year ago we’ve already covered the demographic who has suffered the most under Key and then English’s neo liberal fanaticism, Andrew.

      From wages to state houses to suicide and prison statistics , to the homeless , the unemployed and those locked into the poverty cycle whether they be in the rural or urban sector.

      Its time we dropped the Labour v National narrative and get real.

      • ECE participation rate gone from 93.6% in 2008 to 96.7% in 2016

        Maori ECE participation rate gone from 88.7% in 2008 to 95.0% in 2016

        Pasifika ECE participation rate gone from 84.4% in 2008 to 92.9% in 2016

        8 month old immunisation rate gone from 64% in 2009 to 93.3% in 2016

        Rheumatic fever rates gone from 4.0 per 100,000 in 2009 to 3.0 in 2016

        Maori Rheumatic fever rates gone from 12.4 per 100,000 in 2009 to 6.9 in 2016

        NCEA Level 2 achievement rates gone from 74.3% in 2011 to 85.2% in 2016

        Maori NCEA Level 2 achievement rates gone from 57.1% in 2011 to 74.7% in 2016

    • ” Sat in parliament for years and done basically nothing. So it’s time for a change.”

      Sums National up perfectly!

  7. The Maori King can only pull this particular lever once before his credibility and mana is permanently hurt by sinking to the status of mere political pawn.

    I am not surprised by the “more in sorrow than in anger” tone of Willie Jackson’s piece.

  8. I would like to know exactly what Nanaia Mahuta has done for Maori in her entire career with Labour apart from stitch up Tariana in the 3rd reading of the Foreshore and Seabed vote.

    Any thing would be good

    • Okay she may not have achieved anything but at least she hasn’t created the demise of Maori. What exactly has National and the Maori Party achieved?

      Anything would be good.

        • “Halved the teen pregnancy rate.”

          They had too, to cover the record number of immigrants National have allowed to rampantly arrive in our under resourced and under funded infrastructured country.

  9. I agree that an institution like the Kingitanga serves its own interests best by being non-partison when it comes to parliamentary politics, but I would point out that this is by no means the same as being “apolitical”. On the contrary, the Māori King or Queen should do everything they can to hold the government of the day to account on behalf of their supporters, whoever happens to be sitting on the Treasury benches at the time.

    I have to say though that I think Willie’s crocodile tears about the effect this will have on the Kingitanga are unconvincing. If he was genuinely concerned about the mana of the Kingitanga, he would be taking this matter up directly with Tuheitia and his advisors, instead of splashing it all over a prominent national political blog site.

  10. ” you have to wonder if Tuku Morgan and his team have thought this out properly”

    and go on from there.

    If they have – what are the benefits and consequences for them? Who stands to gain?

    It may all be done with the highest of motives. A genuine desire to make advances and help others.

    On the other hand – those underpants. A warning precedent, perhaps.

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