A left libertarian and the Māori Party

Foreshore and Seabed Hikoi 2004 

(essentially the birth of the Māori Party)

[Image credit: www.teara.govt.nz/files/p-21121-nzh.jpg]

Following my previous post, some people have asked what motivated me to become a member of the Māori Party. This is a very fair question, especially given my strong advocacy for left libertarianism and market anarchism. I have often stated my aversion to party politics and my dislike of the hierarchical structures of the State. I still hold those ideological positions.

I can understand why the Māori Party would not seem like my natural fit in ideological terms. That was my view too until very recently. I now think that view is mistaken although not entirely untrue. I consider the Māori Party an indigenous party that happens to have values consistent with both sides of the political spectrum. The Māori Party have core social justice values and are open to economic development strategies as part of their ongoing evolution to bring about the economic rights of Māori at the local, national and global  level.

I am not comfortable with the close relationship the Māori Party has with the National Party. However, despite my ideological differences with the National Party, I respect the choice of the Māori Party to work across the political spectrum to ensure that they can make gains for Māori no matter who is in government. This tells me that the concern is not about saving face, but that Māori concerns come first. Afterall, the purpose of the party has always been as an independent voice for Māori in parliament.

The confidence and supply agreement between the Māori Party and National did limit the independence of the Māori voice in certain circumstances. However, this is not unique to the Māori Party & National. The same would be true for any minor party entering a confidence and supply agreement with any major party, especially if they held ministerial portfolios.

For clarity, I did not join the Māori Party because I was impressed with their record in parliament or even necessarily the current direction of the Party. Although, I will acknowledge that the Māori Party have made many small gains over their past two terms in parliament.

I joined for precisely the opposite reason, i.e. I was largely unimpressed but I could see the great potential of the Māori Party as a vehicle for advancing a culture of self-determination (tino rangatiratanga) precisely because of their willingness to work across the political spectrum.

It was not a decision I made lightly. I knew the moment I became a member of any ‘party’ the independence of my voice would be compromised, or at least perceived to be compromised. My membership does not mean that I will silence my opinions. Criticism will be cast where criticism is due.

I had considered joining the New Economics Party [NEP] (an unregistered party) because I am fascinated by their bio-mimicry philosophy, the deep respect for the relationships between the environment and economies and the core role that humanity plays in their politics, and of course the heavy Georgist influence. I note here that NEP have some tools in their kete that I believe the Māori Party could benefit from in creating affordable self-sustaining communities, and that the Māori Party have tools in their kete to help NEP ensure that indigenous concerns are appropriately addressed in this kind of new economic paradigm. So my ideal would be to see both parties come together and share ideas at some point.

I opted for the Māori Party firstly, because I felt compelled to pursue the indigenous path so that I could connect to and participate in the kaupapa Māori political framework. Secondly, I wanted to be able to participate/contribute as a member in helping to craft the party’s future direction. I wanted to be part of what was going on, so I could see where and how idea’s were formed and agreed to and who was making the decisions and whether the spread of ideas were coming from just a portion of the members or the membership as a whole.

The Māori Party kauapapa revolves around creating self-sufficient communities and removing Māori from the arms of the State through mutual cooperation between whānau, hapū and iwi, in effect, decentralising power in areas that they believe are better managed at a local level. This is ideal to avoid risks associated with political instability, global scarcity of resources or extreme austerity measures that threaten the economic security of communities. My personal philosophy extends further than this, but because the Māori Party focus is the people not the State then as a  Māori left libertarian, I am willing to throw my support behind that kaupapa.