Hiding He Puapua From Winston May Cost Labour Dearly.

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IF (OR SHOULD THAT BE ‘WHEN’) Winston Peters hits the comeback trail, Labour should look to its defences. Having transformed their erstwhile NZ First ally into a sworn enemy, Labour’s leadership will likely be forced to rely on the Greens to keep them in office. That reliance may end up costing Labour much more than anything NZ First ever asked it to pay.

The “crime” for which Peters and his party will be seeking vengeance is the deliberate suppression of the He Puapua Report. I must confess to missing this aspect of the He Puapua story. I’d simply assumed there were still enough people around Jacinda Ardern with the political smarts to spot the report’s enormous potential for inflicting electoral damage, and that is why it was kept under wraps until the 2020 general election was safely out of the way.

It took a journalist of Richard Harman’s insight and experience to identify the real reason. Writing on his Politik website, Harman put it like this:

“[S]ources close to NZ First believe the decision to keep He Puapua from Cabinet was deliberate. Once it had gone to Cabinet it would have been seen by NZ First’s four Cabinet Ministers and they would have been able to campaign on it; veto it and thus kill it. But now, NZ First are out of Parliament and the document is public.”

Like all shrewd observations, when you see it written down in black and white Harman’s conclusion seems obvious. Had Peters known of its existence, he would have fallen upon He Puapua as a gift from God. No one has a more fearsome reputation for “fighting Maori separatism” than Winston. He Puapua, and all it represents, could have been sold to the electorate as the best possible reason for keeping the NZ First “handbrake” in place. Peters would have had little difficulty in painting a Labour-Green majority as both unable and unwilling to prevent the report’s “Maori separatist agenda” from being rolled out in its entirety. NZ First could have billed itself as the Kiwi voter’s insurance policy against extremism.

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It is important to remember the time-line here. He Puapua was presented to the then Minister of Maori Development, Nanaia Mahuta, in November 2019. Had it gone to Cabinet, Peters and his fellow NZ First ministers would have had close to a year to position it at the centre of their 2020 election campaign strategy. Even with the Covid-19 wind at its back, Labour was unable to prevent the nationalist and conspiratorial Right from amassing over 6 percent of the 2020 Party Vote. Had Winston had He Puapua to play with, there is every chance he would have claimed the lion’s share of that vote (and quite possibly a bonus sliver of National’s) to take him safely over the 5 percent MMP threshold.

Ironically, such a result may have served Labour’s long-term interests a great deal better than NZ First’s failure to be returned to Parliament. In retrospect, Winston’s judicious application of the conservative handbrake, looks suspiciously like a plus, not a minus, for Jacinda Ardern’s coalition government. It arguably prevented her from making a number of deeply unpopular decisions – as well as providing her with a handy excuse for not keeping her promises.

No chance of that now. All the major players in NZ First have been made aware of Labour’s deadly sin of omission. If they’re clever (and they can be) they will turn the suppression of He Puapua into a dark betrayal myth: a fundamental gesture of bad faith and ingratitude which cries out for vengeance.

Two years from now, the howling Covid gale that blew Labour into an absolute parliamentary majority will (hopefully) have sunk to a gentle zephyr. With “normalcy” restored, the electorate will be much less disposed to accept excuses for abject government failure, and much more willing to listen to alternative and harshly critical voices. Chances are that in 2023 National and Act will still have the biggest sound systems, but, as has happened three times before under MMP, it may prove to be Winston’s little loud-hailer that contributes the decisive voice.

And the inspiration for the song he’ll be singing will be He Puapua – but not in a good way.

 

 

43 COMMENTS

  1. We’ve left behind the idea of hollowing out the middle class. So there has to be greater employment opportunities. So people on the WINZ has to start working in health or what ever.

  2. Yet another example of the Labour Governments lack of transparency, bad faith.
    Same as their wage freeze.What happened to good faith bargaining?

    • Aww fuck. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Poor little neoliberals got a Lil fright, awww. Poor things. How sad.

    • Don’t worry John, I’m certain Judith will bring out tax cuts for all and the Exclusive Brethren pamphlets to win a few votes to add to Maori bashing. It’s an oldie but a goodie!

  3. ‘Two years from now, the howling Covid gale that blew Labour into an absolute parliamentary majority will (hopefully) have sunk to a gentle zephyr. With “normalcy” restored, the electorate will be much less disposed to accept excuses for abject government failure, and much more willing to listen to alternative and harshly critical voices.’

    There is no return to the ‘normalcy’ of pre-Covid because it was not normalcy; it was the last phase of the gross aberration that characterised the period following the Second World War, when oil was cheap and easily extracted.

    The lack of easily-extracted oil is one of the main factors driving the downward trajectory of all nations in the world, and also one of the factors (along with massive population overshoot that is a product of the oil economy) that is causing the Covid epidemic to get out of hand throughout most of the world: the resources needed to stem the epidemic (all derived from oil) are not available and the energy needed to deliver them is not available.

    Winston Peters is a political dinosaur with absolutely nothing to offer, other than yet more of the politics of division and empty rhetoric, as is the case with National and ACT.

    As for LINO, well they happen to be in government at the moment -more by accident than design, and certainly not a product of competence or having ANY workable plans for the future. LINO’s lack of planning and lack of competence will be no match for the further unravelling of everything people have taken for granted for decades, an unravelling which will occur with a gathering pace between now and the next [rigged] election -rigged by those who still have money and power and can tell TVNZ and RadioNZ etc. what to mention and what not to mention.

    Tim Watkins ‘nails it’ yet again in his latest commentary on the rapidly declining state of Britain.

    https://consciousnessofsheep.co.uk/2021/05/06/a-crisis-of-profitability/

    But compared to much of the world, rapidly declining Britain is doing quite well. The US is unlikely to exist at all as a unified collection of states two years from now, and the globalised US-dollar-based financial system is unlikely to exist either.

    The Greeds continue to be an embarrassment, so off-the-planet one has to wonder what is going in in their minds as we continue to plod the path that leads directly to extinction of the human species, and they focus on wokism and other absurdities.

    • Afewknowthetruth: yes, we know your views on the environment. But what do you think of the contents of Chris Trotter’s post?

      • ‘what do you think of the contents of Chris Trotter’s post?’

        It is irrelevant to our predicament and offers no suggestions to reduce the suffering that is coming soon. That’s what I think.

        By inference, Chris should be spending time and energy writing stuff that IS relevant to our predicament, rather than spending time and energy on distraction.

    • With all due respect Esopineapples, I feel your comment comes from what appears to be a woke race obsession (forgive me if I’m wrong). Most of the people I discuss this issue with do not see race in the equation at all, it is about democracy. Is ANY one group of people so important that they require unelected representation in local councils, and special education, health, welfare, policing institutions, even governance with veto power over Parliament? Now many in NZ would say “yes this is our ToW obligation”. Fair enough. But once the precedent is set, what is to stop future Governments instituting a similar sytem for another class of people? Is it possible there might in future be a special set of rules for another class of people, perhaps a special un-elected group of lesbians of Indian ethnic background who have political control? Or maybe a radical new church group might arise that makes Destiny look like childsplay, who develop enough political clout to introduce special rules for themselves (anyone ever read ‘The Handmaids Tale’?).

      The point is once we change our existing democratic institutions and constitutional arrangements the precedent is set for all kinds of things to go wrong in future. We need to think extremely carefully about the consequences. And it needs to be absolutley out in the open, the “clear and transparent” governance our PM promised us which is so sadly lacking. Everyone I have discussed this with is scared of a well intentioned woke revolution creating a massive impenetrable consititional mess for the future.

      I want to live in a liberal democracy, I do not want to live in a dictatorship whereby one group of unelected people have veto rights over democratically elected parliament. The fact that in this instance the group being offered these rights by the He Puapua concept are NZ citizens of Maori descent is actually irrelevant. I would not want the local church, or the local golf team, or the local skinheads, or the local shooters association to control my life any more than the local Marae.

      It is a question of democracy, not of racism.

      • Ben Waimata: “It is a question of democracy, not of racism.”

        Exactly: it’s about democracy.

        Racism rears its head when legal and societal arrangements are designed to discriminate, either in favour of, or against, particular ethnic groups. The stellar example in this polity is of course, the Maori electoral system. Now, we can add to this the local authority Maori wards, and the iwi representatives on Council committees, as per WCC. These people are paid and have voting rights, but are unelected.

        That is racism: what governments and local authorities do.

        What people think and say isn’t racism: nobody can change what people think. But we can change what governments and local authorities do.

      • Ben Waimata: “It is a question of democracy, not of racism.”

        Exactly: it’s about democracy.

        Racism rears its head when legal and societal arrangements are designed to discriminate, either in favour of, or against, particular ethnic groups. The stellar example in this polity is of course, the Maori electoral system. Now, we can add to this the local authority Maori wards, and the iwi representatives on Council committees, as per WCC. These people are paid and have voting rights, but are unelected.

        That is racism: what governments and local authorities do.

        What people think and say isn’t racism: nobody can change what people think. But we can change what governments and local authorities do.

        • Ben Waimata and D’Esterre. Agree, the issue is democracy, and the erosion of democracy. The legal positioning of the Treaty in this is debatable, but the constitutional implications are considerable.

      • But democracy enabled colonial confiscations and land alienation and laws banning one specific language. Please dont go on about democracy it still has victims like any other form of govt. If democracy were such a great system people would be complaining about the application of law regarding compensation for stolen lands. Iwi Maori have to be happy with 1-2% value. Democracy works for the majority not the victim and not for justice.

        This is not about democracy or racism its about supporting the poorest sector in society and the need to try a different method because existing ones have not worked for the last 150 years

    • Ok the, let’s have separate policy and authority for Chinese. And for Indians…or Poms. Is it still all about ‘white antagonism towards Maori’ at the end of the day? Maybe not.

  4. Chris’ supreme “boogeyman”–justice for Māori–seems to be spooking him more frequently these days! Turn on the computer–Boo! check out the news–Boo! talk to the network in the little notebook–Boo!

    Mr Trotter’s persistent warning is of a white voter backlash. But surely chances for such a bite back fade with each conservative reactionary’s funeral. Pro Māori policies are concerning the boomer replacement generation voters less and less. Local Govt. Māori wards are spreading, the Reo is spreading among non Māori. There is a hardcore of racists and dark kiwis for certain–I encounter them daily in the provinces–but they are not as strong or numerous as they once were. By 2030 they will likely be a confirmed minority, all bark and little bite.

    • I strongly suggest, Tiger, that you make a study of the demographics underpinning populism worldwide.

      That the elderly constitute the electoral base of right-wing populism is indisputable. Their support for the UK Conservative Party (and UKIP/Brexit Party) ranges from three-quarters to four-fifths. The best efforts of Covid-19 notwithstanding, these folk are not about to disappear overnight.

      My fear – as you rightly say above – is that this phenomenon will be repeated in New Zealand. If I am right, then you will need to be 100 percent correct. Because practically every voter under the age of 55 years will be required to vote for the ideas contained in He Puapua in order to prevent right-wing populist MPs holding the swing-vote in Parliament.

      If even a third of under-55 voters share the views of their parents and grandparents, then your confidence in a progressive, bi-cultural future will have been proved to be misplaced.

      We will discover which one of us possesses the most accurate assessment of the New Zealand electorate in two years time. Then we’ll know exactly who has said “Boo!” to who.

      • That is why I said 2030 Chris. 2023 is liable to be quite volatile given the current Government’s obstinate timidity on delivering for the working class on housing with a state mega build, raising benefits and winding back neo liberal hegemony.

        Back when people talked of the “missing million” the point was often made that if these recalcitrants (more like alienated and low info) could be persuaded to participate, it should not be assumed they would vote in a certain way.

        My argument rests on critical mass I guess–smoking cigarettes anywhere, driving a car while trolleyed, gay marriage, MMP, were not countenanced until enough people went there.

  5. Do the moderate (white) aging centrists who find the evolution towards Maori self determination outside their comfort zone now need NZF and Winston Peters back to kick it all to touch for a generation?

    What do they fear exactly – is it National going full on white race nation Trumpian and winning where they failed back in 2005 (abolishing Maori seats etc), so that Maori Lives Matter protests ring out around the world while Greens pointed in disgust at that mandate to National’s farmers to continue their pollution of waterways and methane contribution to GW?

    Living in such a white majority ruled nation under the quad plus 1 leadership of USA – colonial imperialism blundering into confrontation with China is all a bit 1970’s Cold War era.

    Bringing us back to the times of Winnie of Hunua (when the man with Chinese ancestors first arrrived across the oceans to our political shores) – bring back, oh bring back Winnie. Dick and Barry should get a room with Mr Magoo.

  6. “It took a journalist of Richard Harman’s insight and experience…”

    It took a journalist of Harman’s experience to know that you can write stuff like, “[S]ources close to NZ First believe…” and say whatever you like after that and you control the narrative.

    And therein a good discussion for a media studies class.

    • aom: “Wasn’t Peters the one who was sold on Ka Awatea in about 1992?”

      It looks as if you’ve read neither He Puapua nor Ka Awatea. They’re not the same at all.

      I recommend that you read both documents, as I have.

      • Who, apart from yourself said He Puapua and Ka Awatea were the same? Do you really think there hasn’t been any developmental thinking and change in social attitudes in 30 years? The point was that in the past, Peters wasn’t averse to considering radical Maori views as having validity. who knows where his flexible principles may lay tomorrow.

        • aom: again: read Ka Awatea. It’s very clear that you haven’t. I doubt that you’ve read He Puapua, or its predecessor Matike Mai, either. And you surely need to.

          • Sorry, but please stop being obtuse and make your point. It sure as hell can’t be whether one has read the same documents as you. Obviously, with such documents, it is how one interprets what is read, and one’s life experiences that determine one’s positions. I won’t deign to be presumptuous as to your motivations but perhaps others have adequately summed up your attitudes quite well on various sites you have frequented to espouse your constricted views on democracy.

            By the way, you never did answer the question, “Wasn’t Peters the one who was sold on Ka Awatea in about 1992?”, before beating around the bush.

      • It would be quite wrong to overlook the downside of majoritarianism, aom.

        Indeed, I can’t think of anything more telling against the democratic ideal – apart from the prospect of a majority of the people being made subject to the will of a minority.

  7. Gee sorry Sam I’m all for Maori getting assistance the statistics prove there is great need for improvement.

  8. Chris Trotter: “I must confess to missing this aspect of the He Puapua story.”

    You and most of the rest of us. But we ought to have realised that he hadn’t seen it. Had he done so, NZ First would certainly have campaigned on it. And it did not. Nobody at all mentioned it during the last election campaign, as far as I recall, and I paid attention.

    Without any doubt at all, had word of this report got out during 2020, Labour would have been walloped in that election, virus or no virus.

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