When it comes to the Māori Party, it has become apparent just how deeply rooted the spin about the party is, and how blindly and uncritically it is propagated. The saddest thing is that the majority of spin is formulated in left-wing echo chambers that claim to support Māori while simultaneously attempting to actively deny Māori an independent space in political discourse. This post attempts to address the spin.
- The Māori Party are in coalition with the National Party
- The Māori Party are National Party stooges
- The Māori Party are in the pockets of National Party
The Māori Party (TMP) have a relationship accord with the National Party formalised through a Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Confidence means TMP must only support the Government on any motions of confidence raised in the House of Representatives (HoR).
Supply means TMP must only support the Government on any budgetary or procedural votes to have Bills heard in Parliament.
It does not mean that TMP must support any and all legislation the National Party put before the house. In fact, part of the C & S agreement required the National Party to adopt and implement a number of policies advanced by TMP, including Retention of the Māori Seats, Whānau Ora, Enabling Good Lives, a Ministerial Committee on Poverty and initiatives to urgently address the effects of poverty, a constitutional review, Māori economic strategy, housing, education, environmental policies, and revitalisation of Te Reo Māori.
Note: TMP voted with Labour more times than it voted with National.*
- TMP voted AGAINST National, inter alia, the MOM bill (asset sales), the GCSB bill, the 90-day employee trial, and the high seas protest ban, and supported the opposition on bills such as paid parental leave and a living wage.
Being at the table is not about propping up a government. It is about having the ability to participate in ways that achieve gains for our people.
- The Māori Party are a right-wing party
- The Māori Party are sell outs
- The Māori Party are corporate iwi lackeys
The Māori Party are a kaupapa Māori party founded on and operating under the principles of:
Manaakitanga, Rangatiratanga, Whanaungatanga, Kotahitanga, Wairuatanga, Mana Whenua, Kaitiakitanga, Mana Tupuna/Whakapapa, and Te Reo Rangatira
Kaupapa Māori is not just a system of values it is a methodology that informs every interaction, every decision and every action. These are distinctly Māori principles and practices that cannot be buried by euro-centric attitudes to and ignorance of Te Ao Māori.
The Māori Party do support iwi Māori and contrary to the spin this is not a negative attribute. Conceptualising iwi as vehicles of capitalism, is again an attitude formed by a wilful ignorance toward Te Ao Māori. Iwi connect our people through our whakapapa (ancestry), whānau and hapū are inseverable from those in iwi leadership roles. The strategic use of funds from settlements and investments operates on an ethic of investing for our people, not instead of our people. To presume that the State are the best vehicles for providing services for Māori is an affront to our tikanga and an insult to our tupuna.
There is absolutely no barrier to critiquing iwi leaders from our Māori perspective as to whether or not they are behaving consistently with our tikanga, but these disputes ought to be settled in our marae kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) in accordance with tikanga Māori NOT through the iron fists of the State. The involvement of the State should only ever occur where serious criminal offending is alleged, e.g. fraud or theft etc.
The ‘sell out’ meme has no basis in reality. It is only through the actions of TMP that the government signed up to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, when the previous Labour government had refused to affirm NZ’s commitment to the declaration . This year’s budget is also an example of the kinds of gains TMP have made for our people. Click here for the full details of the 2014 Budget. Some examples include the following:
- $90 million to provide free GP visits and prescriptions to children aged under 13 years
- $20 million additional funding over 4 years to expand Rheumatic Fever reduction programme (bringing total government investment to $65.3million over 6 years)
- $15 million over the next 3 years to support Whānau Ora Navigators work with whānau to increase capability and engagement
- $16 million over the next 4 years to support the repairs and rebuild of rural housing on the Chatham Islands and the development of social housing providers
- $10 million over next 4 years for Māori sporting and cultural activities and development of sporting and cultural bodies
- $6 million over next 4 years to NZSL to improve outcomes for deaf people
- $5 million over 2 years to create Te Mana o Te Wai which focuses on activities to improve water quality
On the above basis, TMP are hardly right-wing capitalists. Nor can it be claimed that they are lackey’s and sell outs.
- A vote for the Māori Party is a vote for the National Party
- The Māori Party have a preference for working with the National Party
A vote for the Māori Party is a vote for the Māori Party. TMP has committed to working with whoever is in a position to form a government following each election and will not rule out working with any party because the effect would be to potentially deprive Māori an independent and participatory voice in Parliament. That TMP are forced to justify why Māori have a right to participate no matter who is in government, is a sad indictment of the state of political discourse in NZ.
This post only barely touches on the spin hurled at TMP, from those one might normally expect to constitute friendly allies. In order to understand the Māori Party, however, you must also understand kaupapa Māori not just as an adopted set of values, but as it operates in practice.
* EDIT: It has been brought to my attention, that I misinterpreted a tweet and have since edited this sentence: “TMP voted against the National Party more often than the Labour Party voted against the National Party” out of the article.