How Powerful Is Labour’s Maori Caucus?


THAT LABOUR’S MAORI CAUCUS is potentially powerful cannot be doubted. It is large, has a strong leader in Willie Jackson, and is surrounded by well-meaning Pakeha progressives who struggle to say “No” to its demands. For Maori, it is difficult to imagine a more encouraging political environment.

The key metric, however, will be what the Maori Caucus is able to deliver. Creating Maori wards is not the same as creating jobs. Building support for profound constitutional change in Aotearoa-New Zealand is not the same as building houses. Labour reclaimed the Maori seats in 2017 by re-presenting itself as the party that cared about the basics: jobs, homes, education and health. In 2020 it started losing them again for not caring enough.

What, then, would a genuinely powerful Maori Caucus do? What policies would it insist upon? More importantly, since the single most important question in politics will always be: “Or you’ll what?”; does the Maori Caucus possess the wherewithal to enforce its demands?

In case you’re wondering what sort of threats a powerful Labour Party faction might make get its own way, here’s a story from Labour’s past.

Way back in 1988, when it began to look as though the Labour Left had acquired sufficient clout within the party organisation to start de-selecting the leading lights of the “Rogernomics” faction – starting with Richard Prebble in Auckland Central – the reaction was swift and brutal. According to Matt McCarten, upwards of 17 “Rogernomes” told the leadership of the party organisation that, faced with de-selections, they would quit the party altogether and collapse the government. The leaders of the trade unions were cowed by a different threat. They were told that unless they “persuaded” their younger activists (like Matt McCarten) to pull their heads in, then the crucial protection of compulsory membership would be legislated away. Not to be outdone, Prebble himself obtained a court injunction against the NZ Council of his own party which, essentially, secured the status-quo in the Auckland Central seat. Needless to say, the party caved-in to every one of the “Rogernomics” faction’s demands.

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That’s what a powerful faction looks like – that is what it can do.

Which raises the obvious questions: “Is the Maori Caucus that powerful?”, and, “Is it willing to go that far?”

On the evidence to date, the answer to both of those questions is “No.”

Were the Maori Caucus as absolutely determined to see their policies enacted as those ruthless Rogernomes, they would long ago have issued adémarche to Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson on the vexed questions of welfare and housing – issues of critical significance to Maori, and precisely the sort of issues that Labour candidates in the Maori seats had promised to address hard and early. They would have pointed out to their Pakeha colleagues the huge risks attached to not making progress quickly in both areas. Their people were suffering and Labour would be judged by how quickly and how comprehensively it tackled the closely related problems of poverty and homelessness.

Had any of their colleagues been foolhardy enough to put the question: “Or you’ll what?” The cold political logic of their position dictates a very obvious reply. “Or we’ll abandon the Labour Party and offer ourselves to the Maori Party. From a relatively powerless two MPs, the Maori Party’s parliamentary strength will swell to 15 MPs – without whose votes Jacinda’s government will hang by a thread – held by Marama Davidson.”

If Labour fails to deliver for Maori, then the Maori Party will be the prime beneficiary of the Maori Caucus’s inability to secure the assistance of their Pakeha colleagues. Labour’s Maori MPs will, accordingly, be replaced by politicians much more willing to exercise the leverage made possible by their party’s possession of the Maori seats. If the Maori Caucus can’t follow this logic, and if it is unwilling to act on it, then how powerful is it, really?

Sadly, the fact that none of the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) have been fully implemented; and that the necessary mobilisation of state resources required to get on top of a waiting-list for social housing which now exceeds 22,000 has not been ordered; strongly suggests that, when it comes to delivering the basics, the members of the Maori Caucus have proved to be no more effective than the Maori Party MPs who opted to throw in their lot with John Key’s National Party.

This conclusion is only strengthened when the Maori Caucus’s policy victories are analysed. Such budgetary successes as they have been able to rustle-up were modest: the sort of sums that will keep a programme or two going for a couple of years; nothing more. Unable to unlock the funds necessary for genuine transformation, Labour’s Maori MPs – just like the Maori Party MPs before them – have opted to settle for fiscally undemanding victories on the cultural front. The most obvious of these being the new, compulsory history curriculum, and the legislative facilitation of Maori wards in local government.

While these cultural “wins” may not be all that costly, fiscally-speaking, they have the potential to unleash an electorally expensive political backlash from aggrieved Pakeha voters. The tumult surrounding the foreshore and seabed legislation generated an electoral response that came perilously close to delivering power to a National Party leader pledged to diminish the Treaty of Waitangi, quash the whole notion of a Treaty “partnership” and abolish the Maori seats. That was a very big bullet for Maori to have dodged. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that conservative Pakeha are going to keep on missing.

If the Maori Caucus has set its sights on bringing forward some, or all, of the constitutional changes arising out of the consultation exercise headed-up by Moana Jackson, then it is likely to encounter the same polite refusals that John Key offered to Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples. Progressive Pakeha MPs are known to talk a good game when it comes to the Treaty and Te Reo, but they are also acutely aware that this is still the Crown’s country – and the Crown does not share power. Neither is a Labour government which owes its absolute parliamentary majority to the votes of “Middle New Zealand” – i.e. Middle-Class Pakeha New Zealand – likely to embrace policies radical enough to frighten them back to National.

Back in 1988, the Rogernomes were so convinced that their policies were what New Zealand needed that they were willing to abandon their party and destroy their government rather than see their achievements watered down or rolled back. How convinced is the Maori Caucus that its policies are what their people need? And how far are they willing to go to make sure that the bi-cultural future they’re seeking is not, once again, put on hold?



  1. I believe it is exactly the wealthy privileged people of New Zealand who should be fighting to serve justice and aid in human rights to uplift the poor and disadvantaged. How idiotic is it to expect poor people to save a $160,000 deposit for an $800,000 home or $600 per week rent just so they can live close enough to work to spend time on friends and family and not have to be a quarter of there working life sitting in traffic?

    The only conclusion that can be drawn is that The National Party is a more reliable protector of kiwi interests and the attitudes of refusal to move from The National Partys stand and now we have conservative petitions banned to get Maori wards across the line. This is no way to run a country. The big things should have been done before the cultural changes, before the outburst the two opposing points should have been done before the Maori wards. The housing, the jobs and so on. And that’s the principle the Maori caucus should not budge from and the National makes it very clear they’re not going to solve those things.

    I think the only thing a decent self-respecting politician would have done is take his plans back to the people and argue the point every 3 years.

    • @Sam, you write ;
      “I believe it is exactly the wealthy privileged people of New Zealand who should be fighting to serve justice and aid in human rights to uplift the poor and disadvantaged.”
      AO/NZ people don’t get rich by helping the poor and disadvantaged. They get rich by exploiting the poor and disadvantaged.
      You continue;
      “How idiotic is it to expect poor people… ”
      With respect @ Sam. It isn’t idiotic to expect poor people to do anything. That’s the point. ‘Poor’ people are, of and by themselves, a resource to be harvested once manipulated in to powerlessness where they must take what they’re given and they’re given only so much to keep them going so as they can be further exploited and manipulated on an on-going basis.
      That’s why the stunted sub human we know of as roger douglas and his cronies deregulated trade unions.
      Anyone can fight a Tiger once its teeth and claws have been removed.
      One of mine? What do you think?
      Here’s a house renovation metaphor for us?
      Once a house is built and we discover that the roof is 300 mm out at one end what must we do? Apart from swearing, howling, wailing, throwing the hammer along with the cat into the next door neighbours then getting drunk in a dark room while watching extremely violent movies on Netflix.
      We must start over again. We must deconstruct the house to the foundations then start again, and this time we must carefully measure up the project as we go.
      We must go back in time to just prior to douglas and reinvent the way things are done here.
      We AO/NZ’ers had an amazing future living on beautiful islands miles away from other fuckers and we made our money by exporting surplus foods and natural raw materials. We would have been the envy of the world.
      And now? We have poverty, homelessness, greed, psychopathy, sociopathy, exploitation and are manipulated daily by a bias MSM who shovel, by default, money into a few, literally one or two’s pockets.
      grahame heart made an additional 3.4 BILLION dollars during covid? How the fuck did he get away with that aye people living in door ways?
      Who cares about what some fuck reckons our houses are ‘worth’?
      We should care more for why we allow this shit to continue unabated.
      The four foreign banks make more out of us AO/NZ’ers than anywhere else in the world per head of pop’ so I read and please correct me if I’m wrong.
      How the fuck can we awesome AO/NZ’ers sit on our arses while four foreign owned banks take billions out of our economy while we have homelessness, poverty and hungry kids?
      That fucking rat jonky walked free and unchallenged while he headed up anz ( I assume it still does? ) while anz does its best to buckle our economy with a false sense of wealth while our farmers suicide because they got less than a $1 a kg for their sheep’s wool when it costs more than a $1 a kg to shear it off the animal?
      WTF? Springs to mind.
      Labour, like National are owned by the banks. Lets be clear on that. ( Yes they are. Look it up.) And so we don’t have a chance and our societal problems are only going to get much, much worse while the bankers dock our wages to pay for the oil they use on our treadmills.

      • Pakeha will never accept being a minority. That’s not an option. So we must move forward with formal proposals to subsidies housing and public transport so everyone can go on speedy superhighways and expanded transport options into a greater New Zealand society. I will not get caught up in irrelevant detail of oh this one is more terrible.

        I want to ensure demographic problems don’t overtake the building step by step, integrate the pacific isles without incurring the opposition of conservatives.

        • You obviously didn’t understand what ‘countryboy’ wrote.

          I’ll spell it out in simple words: Foreign banks own the system. The system is there to serve the shareholders of banks.

          If you know any history you will realise that New Zealand was only ever intended to be an offshoot of New South Wales, which itself was an offshoot of England.

          Dominion status and then ‘independence’ are a mere illusion, permitted to give the uninformed masses hope and to let them think they have a say in what happens via parliament. Sure, politicians are allowed to tinker with the little things. But when it comes to anything of real significance…no No NO!

          I don’t know whether this is above your head. I’d like to think not.

          A slave who is bound by iron chains will work reluctantly for the empire and will have notions of escape.

          A slave bound by invisible chains who thinks he/she is free will work enthusiastically for the empire. Maybe will even give up their life for the empire if propagandised enough in the correct manner.

          • Irrelevant. We live in a world of cultural traditions. It makes no difference what banks say. If the government wants to pour money into manicuring infrastructure whatever the banks have to say about that is totally irrelevant. It makes absolutely no difference to the national wealth pool so stop with the silly games.

            • Are you living in a raupo hut with no electricity, and growing your own food?

              If not, I think that to say the banks are irrelevant is the height of arrogance and stupidity.

              Where do you think the government gets money from?

              • All your models, theories, and history has been rendered irrelevant by corona.

                When Micheal Schumacker skied into a rock he broke the fundamental law of gravity rendering all his skills, models and theories irrelevant.

                It doesn’t matter where the government is going to get its money things have changed and we have to change with it.

                I could agree with a state like Zimbabwe replacing its money system because of hyperinflation but we don’t have that inflationary environment to justify MMT. We have corona.

                That doesn’t mean to say we don’t require a new store of value we do. A savings account should return 5% per annum so we have superannuation.

                People with serious amounts of money don’t care and that matters because the demand is excessive.

                The bottom line is I believe the fiat system is going to go on. If it was me I’d mortgage my house get a loan and buy Bitcoin. Borrow against that as bitcoin goes up 100x a year and plug it into a credit card, not sell the bitcoin and die owing fiat money. So we don’t need to bring down fiat.

                The point is there are new reasons why fiat does not need to collapse.

        • One day Pakeha will have no choice they will be another minority as Asians take over, perhaps then and only then they will understand what Maori have had to fight against and put up with!

          • That has absolutely no significance to the modern world of culture and social change. Its one type of change. A terrible one. Thats something.

  2. Yeah, ironically, if the Māori caucus were so courageous as to threaten to join the Māori Party over jobs and houses, most Pākehā would probably go along with it and say that it was about time we saw some action out of this Govt!

    • Given the two-thirds-plus of voters in favour of more support for the poor, registered by UMR in their latest omnibus opinion survey, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised, Chris.

      • But are the voters prepared to pay substantially more taxes to make this happen, beyond the existing commitments? I would say not.

        However the government could borrow more, say an extra $2 billion per year, to build more social housing. It would mean about an extra 3,000 houses built each year, which is double the current target. Over 3 to 5 years this would hugely reduce the numbers on the social housing waiting lists.

        The cost of the extra borrowing is not enough to require a change in tax rates. In any event fiscal drag will progressively act as a tax increase.

        • You’re utterly committed eh? @Wayne.
          Btw, not a bad attempt at doing your best to rehabilitate your credibility in wherever the hell ever it was – The Spinoff, or Stuff or RNZ or wherever the hell it was.
          There’s probably still a bit of mileage as a rent-a-voice yet to come. Do the decent thing old chap. Help a Boag out maybe -even as an act of atonement.
          While she’s rearranging her bloomers under that cloak of chiffon and silk, surely you could adjust your jockeys to give her a little helping hand.

        • Oh, btw (that’s by the way). if you need a little help, we’ve got a little Indian in this household, currently engaged in the g-g-g-gig economy who’d be happy enough to get out the Elna (ekshully it’s a Brother) to help at below minimum wage. He’s even got one or two tradie mates (plasterers and the like) who could help with the makeup

          • OnceWasTim: I’ve read both of your responses to Wayne. For the life of me, I can’t understand why you launched into insults and ad homs, instead of engaging with what Wayne has written.

            If you disagree with him, please tell the rest of us which bit of his comment you think is challengeable.

            In my view, he makes a lot of sense, though maybe many people are more willing than he thinks, to pay more tax.

            This slinging about of insults doesn’t reflect well on lefties. Many accuse righties of doing it: please don’t descend to that level. If you haven’t got a countervailing argument, it’s best to say nothing.

          • OnceWasTim: I’ve read both of your responses to Wayne. For the life of me, I can’t understand why you launched into insults and ad homs, instead of engaging with what Wayne has written.

            If you disagree with him, please tell the rest of us which bit of his comment you think is challengeable.

            In my view, he makes a lot of sense, though maybe many people are more willing than he thinks, to pay more tax.

            This slinging about of insults doesn’t reflect well on lefties. Many accuse righties of doing it: please don’t descend to that level. If you haven’t got a countervailing argument, it’s best to say nothing.

  3. Rubbish Mr Trotter, you know as well as most that almost ALL MPs have a group or faction of supporters that got them elected via door knocking or financially and if every MP then once elected asked the tresuary for cash to help their cause the country would be skint.
    Maori MPs, not unlike the Greens, just pay lip service when the cameras are rolling or when interviewed for print media.
    All roar and thunder, then…nothing….no delivery (sound familiar?)

    Maori MPs and Green MPs soon realise the salary and perks remain intact as long as you dont rock the boat too much, and god forbid enact radical change and lose said salary and perks!

  4. ‘If Labour fails to deliver for Maori’

    Failure to deliver for Maori is a foregone conclusion, Chris.

    Ultimately Labout will fail to deliver for EVERYONE (except politicians). But there is still a little wriggle room at the moment for the pretence to continue. Whether its weeks or months is difficult to gauge, and very much depends on events in the casino markets of America.

    On the matter of neoliberalism, it is interesting to read how how hollowing out of the electrical grid and failure to take the most rudimentary precautions in Texas by neoliberals directly led to the chaos and death witnessed there recently.

    FEBRUARY 22, 2021
    Who Messed with Texas?

    …But it would be disingenuous to think that somehow Texans had no idea what it means to get hit by ice and snow — and the problems it can cause for unprepared utilities, businesses and citizens.

    The simple truth is that a similar cold-weather incident wracked Texas in 2011. It was so bad the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission researched the fallout from the event and prepared a detailed report concerning the many problems it caused.

    In a nutshell, the problems in Texas are primarily caused by utility deregulation and a lack of insulation in the industrial, energy and domestic sectors. So why wouldn’t Texas’ coal and natural gas power plants — which produce by far the majority of the state’s electricity — take the simple measure of insulating the pipes that carry their process water? According to an article in the Texas Tribune, they don’t want to spend the money because in the deregulated Texas utility market, the cheapest power available is what gets pumped into the wires by the obviously misnamed “Electric Reliability Council of Texas.” In the deregulated energy market where “cheapest is best” there’s actually a financial disincentive to invest in prudent measures to ensure actual reliability for utility customers…..

    Here in Montana people are justifiably mystified why Texans are so unprepared. Thanks to prudent investments, our wind turbines don’t freeze up and the pipes at our water treatment plants, generation facilities, homes, schools and businesses are insulated.

    Having decided to be independent of federal regulation and the regional electricity grid that serves most of the West, Texas decided to go it alone. Unfortunately, now their people are paying a horrific price for foolish, ideologically-driven policies. And while Texas’ Republican politicians take no responsibility for their lack of preparation, they’re more than willing to ask for and take FEMA disaster relief from the federal government.

    Montana has its own experience with Texas-style deregulation brought to us by the Republican legislative majorities and then-governor Marc Racicot about 25 years ago. And we’re still paying the price for that policy disaster, having gone from the cheapest power in the northwest region to the most expensive, even though we re-regulated our utility sector. Mess with Texas? No thanks — their Republican politicians are doing a bang-up job of that already.

    I guess we can be thankful we have politicians and bureaucrats who are not completely nuts. Just detached from reality and in denial.

  5. Sam. Here’s another way of looking at it.

    At the bottom are the proles.
    Above them are the enforcers.
    Above them is the government.
    Above them are the banks and corporations.
    Above them are the owners of the banks and corporations.

    I hope that helps you understand why government will NEVER tackle the fundamental issue: the financial system. Creation of money out of thin air and the charging of interest on that money is what it’s all about. And raiding the commons to covert ‘resources’ into stuff and waste to keep teh system running.

    As ‘countryboy’ explained, ordinary folk are just a resource to be exploited. The bastards even changed the name of the Personnel Department to Human Resources. .

    By the time the bankers have finished fucking with the planet in pursuit of infinite-growth-on-a-finite-planet the planet will be largely (or completely) uninhabitable for humans.

    As long ago as the 1930s it was said: “There is a group of men whose activities must not be spoken of above a whisper” (or words to that effect). I’m too busy to look up the exact quote. You’ll find it if you do the research.

    Here’s a jolly good place to start:

    You might think the real world Money Masters would have had the documentary removed from YouTube. But they are not at all concerned about the truth being there for everyone to see. Only 40,000 views in two decades indicates the level of apathy amongst the masses.

    • You can play on youtube and show us something absurd but we live in a world where the banks create money. Fine. Big win. Yknow who else can print money? treasury. Could not care one iota how banks make their money. I just care about how governments make theres.

      • I remember once before trying to engage you in sensible discussion and getting inane responses from you.

        Thanks for reminding me not to bother.

        • First of all its better to be lucky than good. The second is the best time to get rid of fiat was pre corona. NZ just borrowed a hundred billion dollars, yes we can argue about the allocation of resources but the borrowing doesn’t mean anything. I’m just flushing it all down the toilet and starting again.

          We can talk about all the business problems but the truth of the matter is it’s of no consequence what so ever. After corona, everyone needed a big government. All of your experiences and models made irrelevant.

          Let me explain it a different way lets say the government borrows 500 billion instead of 200 billion that renders all your models irrelevant. We have to change our models.

          How many people wake up worrying about getting taken by a wolf? it’s irrelevant. Every time we engineer a new system it renders all other models irrelevant.

          We’ve moved into a new zone where trust is the new currency.

  6. I think they have lots of power, they simply don’t use it sufficiently as a block which they could do. it has always irked me that in South Auckland with the three poorest seats in the country, zilch happens, this is predominantly lived in by Pacific Islanders and Maori!

    This group should be going to Ardern and demanding that the benefits are increased and that low income workers receive more dosh from the Government!

    • No, this group should dump Ardern and replace her with Nanaia Mahuta, that’s the sort of revolution which could bring about the real change this country needs – that’s if I’m reading her right, which I think I am.
      Kelvin Davis is a good man, but he could be a little more circumspect with his criticisms of the clownish Maori Party leadership. There will be, or should be, some decent idealistic talent among the new members of Parliament who know that crucial issues like housing, poverty, marginalisation of the poor, and the buggering up of wee kids’ future lives, must be addressed, and this is the time to mobilise the new talent, before they sink out of sight.

      None of the present Labour bunch display Marama Davidson’s opportunistic racism or kookiness, and I disagree with those who think that Davidson doesn’t know exactly what she’s doing embracing USA identity politics with its destructive divisiveness, and agree with the inevitability of this becoming a Chinese country, possibly in my
      grandchildren’s life time, but why wait until then for a whole new concept of social justice ?

      Taxation needs to be better implemented, and increased; we know that won’t happen under PM Ardern, and Davidson warbling that tax is love sounds too much like Haight Ashbury flower power anti-property owning
      hippiedom – not that there weren’t some good ideas floating around back then.

      Mahuta has the mana and the stature to articulate ideas without the extremism of some Maori activists who are too divisive at a time when there are huge issues to be focused on, instead of running around like headless chooks wasting time on peripheral ephemera, and wailing about the past, neatly sidestepping what can be achieved in the present, for the future. Let’s do this.

      • Snow White: “No, this group should dump Ardern and replace her with Nanaia Mahuta, that’s the sort of revolution which could bring about the real change this country needs….”

        I don’t share your faith in Mahuta. There’s never been any indication that she has the competence and nous required for her current job, let alone that of PM. Her ethnicity is irrelevant.

        Though we did feel the faintest flickerings of optimism, when she indicated that perhaps she wouldn’t be as bellicose over China as some of her predecessors. However. It remains to be seen whether she’ll be able to stand firm against the bullying of the 5 eyes lobby. I’m not holding my breath.

        “There will be, or should be, some decent idealistic talent among the new members of Parliament…”

        I’m not hopeful of that. Many of them look like space-savers. Moreover, I’m not convinced that idealism is what NZ needs right now. Aren’t the Greens known for idealism? We surely don’t need more of their brand.

        A good dose of plain honesty would at least be a change. With regard to housing, I suspect that there’s no fix – quick or otherwise – for the desperate shortage, nor for the resulting high rents. Every move this government has made on housing since it came to power has led directly to the rent crisis we now face. It would be good if the PM would just admit this, without attempting to dodge responsibility. It might salvage some of the respect she’s comprehensively lost on this issue in the last few years.

        Labour made the colossal error of over-promising and under-delivering on housing. Many of us who have connections to the construction industry predicted this outcome. It was foreseeable, and government advisors at least ought to have foreseen it.

        “…poverty, marginalisation of the poor, and the buggering up of wee kids’ future lives…”

        These issues are being seen by the government through the lens of ethnicity: another colossal error. Ethnicity is irrelevant, and policies based on it being otherwise will fail. Just as such policies have already failed.

        “….the inevitability of this becoming a Chinese country….”

        Again: what has this to do with anything? NZ is a modern representative democracy: the ethnicity of its citizens isn’t – and cannot be – of moment. This was an ethnically diverse population, even by the time of the signing of the Treaty. Forty-ish years of neoliberalism has cemented that ethnic diversity in place. No going back now.

        “Taxation needs to be better implemented, and increased…”

        Tell that to the unfortunate ratepayers of Wellington, facing as we do an enormous rates increase. That’ll be a real burden on the many of us on low or fixed incomes.

        Up above on this thread, Wayne observes that the government could borrow more to fund the building of more housing. He also says the following:

        “The cost of the extra borrowing is not enough to require a change in tax rates. In any event fiscal drag will progressively act as a tax increase.”

        That sounds like common sense to me! Pity that he isn’t advising that useless lot currently in government.

        “…..Maori activists who are too divisive at a time when there are huge issues to be focused on….”

        Activists are banging the drum of ethnicity, which is pointless and irrelevant. It’ll achieve nothing, will fix none of the problems besetting Maori society. Because those problems don’t relate to ethnicity, which they’d realise if only they stopped seeing every issue in terms of skin colour.

        • As I get older, I tolerate fools less gladly – I can’t be bothered with them, chastise myself for valuable passed time wasted when I could have been enjoying myself – it’s taken me too long ! Mahuta presents as someone not bothered by idiots – genuinely not bothered, as, for example when some girl wrote dopey public comments about her moko. She’s fairly measured in her responses, especially for an ex-participant ( I think) in one of those indigenous studies courses, which can be very variable , and fuel the grievance industry in a socially counter-productive and damaging way. She may not be charismatic , but that’s fine by me – the charismatic Nat PM Key was a disaster; Ardern depends on charisma too, and that’s not enough when it comes to tackling big issues instead of just shining a torch over them.

          I’m probably prejudiced from having flatted with Nanaia’s mum, Liz Edmonds, for one full under-grad year. This was pre mixed flat days, all female, budgeting, shared cooking etc and it was a remarkably good student flat, and Liz also a very contained, grounded, and circumspect woman, and I see her in her daughter. Having said that, I am the first to admit that judging offspring by their parents can be a colossal mistake.

          As a firm supporter of the Treaty, I still get fed up with everything being manufactured into being a Treaty issue – little green men could appear here from some distant star, and some-body – maybe a tiresome WCC councillor – will
          hyperventilate and immediately clobber the alien visitor with a Treaty claim.

          The issue here is the clout of the Maori caucus, and Nanaia Mahuta identifies as a Maori woman. A Maori woman as leader of the Labour Party would make it difficult for anti-Pakeha zealots to continue denying that Maori have no political voice – and it wouldn’t hurt misogynistic Maori males who deny women a voice on the marae, to see a large chunk of the population rallying behind her. I quite like archetypes – and this could be a very nationally unifying one.

          Sure, the Greens used to be thought idealists, but as a former Green supporter since before some their current MP’s were even born, I no longer see them as an environmental party – it’s a party hijacked by a mish-mash of mediocre personal agendas which again, fail to get their teeth into hugely important issues – and if we are to be Chinese, it will be by attrition, and that could be quite interesting, when Chinese culture emanates from an ancient civilisation which at times surpassed that of both Treaty partners. The Confucian family relationship ethos still prevails in much of China and other Asian cultures, and that could also have a more constructive effect on Kiwis bashing their women and babies, than paying large sums of money to yet more people to sit around on committees talking about it, again and again and again. Ethnicities do differ.

          • Snow White: “As I get older, I tolerate fools less gladly…”

            Me too. And God knows there are plenty of them about to get on my wick, what with the idiots in government, and the ship of fools which is supposed to be running WCC! This is the latest development in the ongoing farce, if you haven’t already seen it:


            Really: you couldn’t make this stuff up, could you?

            “….those indigenous studies courses, which can be very variable , and fuel the grievance industry in a socially counter-productive and damaging way.”

            Back in the early noughties, Elizabeth Rata called out Kura Kaupapa for fomenting divisiveness and a sense of resentment. I have no doubt whatever that most of those indigenous studies courses have the same problem.

            At the time, I disagreed with her, but recent events have proved her right. She’s an academic with “chops” in this particular area: worth a read, if you haven’t yet encountered her:


            “She may not be charismatic….”

            As I’ve said before on this site, I’m suspicious of charisma, preferring pollies who are free of it. So that aspect of Mahuta wouldn’t bother me.

            My lack of enthusiasm for her is derived from the fact that I’ve seen no evidence that she has either the competence or the nous (maybe “instinct” is more apt) for the job she currently has. And Foreign Affairs is a portfolio of prime importance at present.

            I’ve seen nothing to suggest that she isn’t just another activist, whose views have been formed in the hotbeds of revisionism in the universities, and who is pursuing policies of separatism and divisiveness. She may even have been to a Kura Kaupapa, though she might be just a little too old.

            I note that she has driven through fast-tracked legislation to abolish ratepayers’ ability to veto Maori wards, a development about which – like many citizens – I’m very angry indeed.

            Yet she dithers about appointing a commissioner and statutory manager to WCC: an organisation that’s in dire need of such action. The cry here grows ever louder: the need is greater even than Tauranga, I’d have said.

            “The issue here is the clout of the Maori caucus, and Nanaia Mahuta identifies as a Maori woman.”

            As I said earlier, in my view ethnicity is irrelevant. Those in the Maori caucus either are or aren’t competent in the political process. Their being Maori isn’t – and most certainly ought not to be – of moment. To suggest otherwise is to buy into the separatism being peddled by them.

            This is a modern democracy: attempts at separatist strategies – Maori wards, by-Maori for-Maori services of various sorts – cannot be instituted without fatally undermining the democracy which we all value.

            I’d add that a Maori electoral system fits the definition of racism (what governments do, not what people think and say) which was accepted when I was young. And the separate schools and welfare services constitute apartheid. There’s no getting round this.

            “As a firm supporter of the Treaty…”

            Which one do you mean? The original? Or the revisionism foisted on all of us in the mid-80s? I remember that very well: the so-called “principles” were a post facto attempt to freight meanings on to the original that went far beyond what the text can bear, or the signatories could have imagined or intended. Geoff Palmer was largely responsible: I am among the many people who, at the time, heard him trying – and failing – to explain them. Winston Peters was one who called him out on it.

            My view of the Treaty is much more conditional now: I don’t accept the “principles”, nor do I accept the way in which they’ve been snuck into just about every aspect of NZ life. Our society is the poorer for it.

            “….difficult for anti-Pakeha zealots to continue denying that Maori have no political voice…”

            As anyone who’s done the research knows, Maori do indeed have a political “voice”. Maori wards in local government are a priori undemocratic. And they’re also completely unnecessary: Maori are already being elected in proportion to their numbers in the populace. Joe Public knows this full well. That’s why there’s been so much ratepayer opposition.

            “….and it wouldn’t hurt misogynistic Maori males….”

            I doubt that it would change that aspect of Maori culture. Mahuta is a member of the elite: women of that class are tolerated in positions of power, but they don’t change the situation for lower-class women. This is also true in other paternalistic societies worldwide.

            “The Confucian family relationship ethos still prevails in much of China and other Asian cultures, and that could also have a more constructive effect on Kiwis bashing their women and babies…”

            It’s interesting that Chinese have been here in some numbers since the gold rush days. And of course there’s been a flood of inward migration since the late 1980s. Yet Confucianism hasn’t really percolated into wider society here, in the way that might have been expected. Unfortunately, it’s also paternalistic.

            As to our awful violence stats, I doubt that anybody has the least idea of how to fix the situation. Certainly not the pollies, who mouth platitudes and make election promises they know very well they cannot keep.

            Setting up by-Maori for-Maori welfare services won’t help either. Aside from the fact that they’re apartheid, those of us who’ve observed the various iterations of child welfare services in NZ since the late 1980s are only too well aware that greater Maori involvement hasn’t made things better for the children. There’s no reason to suppose that a different organisation will make any difference.

            • D’Esterre – I haven’t followed the Maori wards issue – I asked someone to explain it to me today – they couldn’t, so that’s that.

              Which version of the Treaty ? Ah ha, you can’t trick me that easy ! I studied it in Public Law at Vic, and not under Mr Patriarch Palmer, but Andrew Ladley – former Alliance advisor I think – a good consensus teacher, and our group consistently out- performed Palmer’s and the two other chappies’ . Binned all my notes and handouts, but still have a reasonable library on the jurisprudence of the Treaty. There is outstanding discourse available, but at this stage, I prefer to regard it as contract law, and the Treaty as a legally binding contract, which legal experts and academics should be addressing – not MP’s who equate unwanted sex with borrowing a previously borrowed vacuum cleaner. (They should just sod off.)

              If, like me, you think that the Treaty is being tossed around spuriously, you may, understandably, see this as diminishing
              the significance of what it was all about; I have now changed my views on the integrity and intent of the British crown at the time, viewed in the wider context in which it was signed, but that does not change the fact that it was and is a legal contract.

              Elizabeth Kerekere MP’s postulant Parliamentary speech, seeming to me, to be blaming “colonialists” ( bad white men who you must NEVER lend your vacuum cleaner to) for curtailing the gender diversification apparently very widespread among Maori before the arrival of the missionary position, and cultural appropriation of voluminous Victorian dresses (which were a terrible chore to wash and to iron) had me querying her environmental priorities – and much more.

              I worked in Sth Korea, and spent different chunks of time in Singapore, lifelong Chinese friends, and they are enormously polite people, especially when one shows respect for their culture , and learns to address them in their own language – that includes Chinese in New Zealand, whom it is unrealistic to criticise for their lack of impact upon New Zealand society when they were historically treated abominably, scattered, and far too busy working possibly much harder than many.
              They also, like the Scots, respect education and learning, but I find them more refined – I’m a bit racist that way. (I don’t like Estonians either.)

              China, Japan,South Korea, are very safe places for NZ women to work in – street crime, apart from things like bag snatching, is still, I think, fairly rare. NZ’ers teaching ESOL, can walk the night streets safely – they’re more likely to be ripped off by an unscrupulous employer, than endangered by a stranger.

              Andy Foster is ok if you bail him up and talk to him – very open – which is more than some politicians are. I smiled at one Labour alphabet person in a shop, absent-mindedly thinking that I knew her, and she closed her eyes and looked away. Perhaps it was my colour. Foster has an impeccable record on local environment issues – we fought two hard battles on Town Belt issues, with talk back radio crucifying
              a rather nice group of people fighting to stop the commercial
              exploitation of a people area everyone takes for granted. One of the talk- back hosts was cosy with a developer.I think it’s fair to say that women lead the way on that, and we dragged the men along with us.

              Where persons of a specific ethnicity or vulnerability, are more likely to be susceptible to something like the coronavirus – or tuberculosis – or rheumatic fever – it is reasonable to prioritise them when allocating medical or similar services, and I can think of no good reason why this should not be so.

              Everything else is probably due to the chasm between the haves and have-nots which the pollies are too dumb, or too lazy, or both, to fix, and Countryboy explains it well.

          • Snow White: where I’ve used “paternalistic” in my response to you, read “patriarchal”, which is what I actually meant. In my defence, it was late, I was tired, and my mental lexicon refused to summon up the word I wanted. Grrr…..

  7. I have given up waiting for transformation. I am leaving for Australia as soon as they will let me in. The disappointment and arrogance of the likes of GR and JA has demoralized me. I need out for my mental health and lack of wealth. I am too poor to matter…

  8. The prospect of widespread unity in action between working class Māori and younger Pākehā is one thing that still turns the NZ ruling classes innards to water. There was a flicker of such power at Ihumātao when the Police were outflanked by supporters summoned online. I have seen it in regional occupations, and many union activities over the years.

    The Māori Caucus has much power already, if they choose to use it, and even more potential power if they could take non Māori residents of Aotearoa with them on a campaign for all those things we have talked about for years on The Daily Blog that need urgent attention.

    • Tiger Mountain…you really truelly believe if the followers/posters of TDB (a few dozen at most) and all the ‘young uns’ get together change will happen almost overnight.
      Awwww bless, you must dream at night of other fantasies too believing them to be true….martians, Labour keep its promises and Greens are really an environmental party LOL

      • And Nationals promises that they are better gatekeepers/ economic managers of our country.
        Our country is wrecked because of them.

  9. “…..on the vexed questions of welfare and housing – issues of critical significance to Maori, and precisely the sort of issues that Labour candidates in the Maori seats had promised to address hard and early.”

    The Maori caucus is irrelevant. The above issues have everything to do with class (conceived in NZ as income levels) and nothing to do with ethnicity. The fact that Maori are disproportionately affected is a result of how society is constituted now, and that is a consequence of the damage done by the Rogernomics bulldozer all those years ago, to the economy and to the fabric of working class society.

    Looking at solutions from the perspective of ethnicity is to come at the problems from the wrong angle. The resulting policies will fail. We’ve already seen the failure of Maori-targeted policies, for instance in attempts to reduce the Maori prison muster, and crime generally. And most notably in education. We’re about to see a similar failure in the restructure of OT.

    In a modern representative democracy, there is no place for policies and practices – especially in the electoral system – which focus on a particular ethnicity, even if such people are the descendants of the first settlers. NZ’s population has included people from all over the world, right from the time of the first European arrivals.

    There’s no going back: bi-culturalism cannot be made to work here without fatally undermining democracy.

    A large proportion of citizens – me included – want benefit levels raised, as recommended by that working group a few years back. Such an increase would allow people to live with some dignity; it would benefit children, and it’s never their fault.

    But we expect benefit increases to go to all people who need it, regardless of their ethnicity.

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