The reverberations and ramifications of what has happened this election will be felt in many places, but most acutely I believe within Maori politics.
Labour’s 7 seat sweep of the Maori electorates is one thing, but add in the enormous jump in party vote in those electorates plus in the general seats where Maori are a dominant population and the Labour Party owes Maoridom an enormous debt.
13 new Maori MPs inside Labour is the first down payment of that debt and as the largest faction within Labour, the Labour Maori Caucus carry an enormous amount of power. How far Winston will allow them to carry out that power remains to be seen but with such strong personal relationships between Winston, Kelvin, Peeni and Willie, that should be a lot further than Winston’s anti-Maori electorate rhetoric would suggest.
The first thing a Labour Maori Caucus should do is call for the full implementation of Green Party Social Welfare policy that would see benefits immediately lifted $180 while dumping the punitive punishment culture that has arisen within our social welfare agencies.
Maori are the ones most dependent on those welfare payments, nothing would reward their faith in change like a $180 per week lift in their weekly income.
Marama Davidson from the Greens can explain how achievable that all is.
People in poverty need immediate change now, they can not wait for a select committee meeting process that might do something in 18months, people at breaking point before the election are still at breaking point now.
The people need aid yesterday, not vague promises about tomorrow.
Nothing would respect Metiria’s courageous act of honesty more than implementing the policy that would stop making criminals of the poor the way it did to her.
Why does this obligation to make an immediate gesture to the poorest amongst us fall so heavily upon the Labour Maori Caucus? Because by wiping out the Maori Party as the political voice of Maoridom, all the responsibility to invoke real and measurable change falls upon their shoulders to carry.
The loss of Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell was a painful one. No one can be happy to see such titans of Maori Politics kicked out of Parliament, but the crumbs obtained from National’s table never justified the loss of mana by sitting at that table.
In the end the rock star economy played no song for Maori to dance to, 9 years of National saw many Maori go backwards, not forwards and the few successes never outweighed the losses.
Sadness too at the way Hone Harawira was left outside Parliament. Another righteous voice for the poor removed from representation.
We’ve lost Metiria, Marama, Te Ururoa and Hone as voices for the most vulnerable, Labour’s Maori Caucus must now become that.