Waatea News Column: A potato, a broken gold watch, a pounamu hei-tiki, and a huia feather: Does Labour need a new Rātana alliance with Māori Party?


The shockwave of naked racism that emboldened so much race baiting this election highlights how the Right wil always use Māori as a political punching bag for votes.

As New Zealand faces the absurdity of a referendum to redefine the principles of the Treaty and is about to have the Māori Health Authority disbanded, the question for the Left is how to work together strategically and tactically to stop the Right from winning by race baiting.

I believe the answer lies in our existing MMP system and requires a new Rātana alliance.

The Rātana movement into politics in 1923 helped seal gains for Māori and Pakeha with Michael Savage in 1936.

Savage was gifted a potato, a broken gold watch, a pounamu hei-tiki, and a huia feather as symbols of the new alliance.

The potato represented loss of Māori land and means of sustenance, the broken watch represented the broken promises of the Treaty of Waitangi, and the pounamu represented the mana of the Māori people, if Savage was able to restore those 3, he would earn the right to wear the huia feather.

It is time for Labour to earn the right to wear that feather.

What was fascinating about the Māori electorates this election was how tactical Māori voters were, once again proving why they are one of the smartest tactical voters each and every election.

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Overwhelmingly Māori in the Māori electorates voted Labour Party vote and Māori Patry candidate vote and this has generated the focus on the power of the MMP Overhang the Māori Electorates generate.

If there was a Rātana 2, the Labour Party and Māori Party could strategically work together and push a tactical voting plan that calls for voters in the Māori electorate to all give their candidate vote to the Māori Party candidate and their Party vote to Labour.

This would end up creating up to 7 overhang seats in the Parliament which would cement an enormous block that could (with support from the Greens) become an unbeatable tactic that would ensure victory.

If this new alliance could demand better material conditions for those on the socio-economic bottom, working class aspirations and Māori aspirations could combine to finally deliver the promise to Rātana made in 1936.

If Labour want to wear that huia feather, they must rethink their MMP tactics and strategy.


First published on Waatea News.


  1. No major re-think required, just some honest reflection and an apology for the last 40 years of a neo liberal state!

    Then, simply retire Rogernomics and adopt the pro working class policies that have been listed here many, many times. NZ Labour needs rules rewrites that vest power in the ordinary members rather than the ‘Parliamentary Wing’ i.e Caucus. Captains Calls? no more–democratic decision making is the way forward.

    Anyway that is up to Labour, I’ll be supporting Greens and Te Pāti Māori while they make their mind up whether to rebuild or fade out. There will be a new political movement–not necessarily party–for 2026 once everyone has had the shit kicked out them by Natzos, Act and NZ First.

  2. You need a Labour Party worth voting for if your scheme is going to work. Unless they can muster this basic skill of being competent at representing the people who voted for them they are goneburger.

  3. Problem is Labour don’t listen to good ideas.For them to do so they need first to decide who they are and what they stand for,who do they represent.

  4. Savage is the answer – NZ needs rebuilding for all NZers – that’s what he did, and the rightwing prospered along with the rest.

    The Treaty is a complicated issue, and in some quarters rather more seems to have been read into it than it contains. The co-governance model Labour seem to have envisaged is not without problems, not least of which is a dilution of our existing democracy, a system already rendered almost farcical by the covert dictatorship of a sociopathic market model and special pleading by any number of undeserving causes.

    Somewhere to live, someone to love, something to hope for – it’s not much to ask. But NZers have not been getting it since Roger Douglas betrayed his party, stole assets belonging to all NZers, and corrupted his colleagues to the point they no longer understood what he was doing wrong. Judas was better human being.

  5. The discussion about a potential alliance between the Labour Party and the Maori Party is an interesting one. Collaboration and cooperation between political parties can lead to positive changes for communities, including the Maori. However, it’s important for such alliances to be based on a shared vision and values rather than opportunism. The focus should be on addressing the unique needs and concerns of the Maori community and working towards a more inclusive and equitable New Zealand. Any political alliance should be a genuine commitment to bettering the lives of all New Zealanders and respecting the rights and aspirations of the Maori people.

  6. Good stuff Maori news headlines but Labour don’t have a vision,well certainly not one they have shared with the public.

  7. An iconic story and a cool picture. It would be nice to dream that by 2026 we could raise our heads above the electromagnetic smog and repurpose all those unwanted ev’s. I have seen nice looking geodesic domes built from car panels. That would be a start to housing the dispossessed gang members and futures traders no longer employed by the defunct wef.


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