Election series article # 4: The Maori Party under pressure

October 7, 2011

Mike Kay, Workers Party, Auckland. Originally published in the October issue of The Spark.

The Māori Party has not had a good year. While it may have breathed a collective sigh of relief when it parted ways with its only dissident, Hone Harawira, the euphoria must have been short-lived. It now faces intense pressure on its left flank since the formation of Mana. Seven years on from its inauguration, the Party will now struggle to continue to present itself as the authentic political voice of all Māori. In order to restore some of its radical credentials after three years of coalition with National and ACT, the Māori Party has recently been very vocal over the passage of the Policing (Storage of Youth Identifying Particulars) Amendment Bill.

The Party’s police spokesperson Rahui Katene rightly described the Bill as a “travesty” that would stigmatise Māori youth. The Bill, passed under urgency, enables the Police to keep the photographs and fingerprints of young people who are arrested but discharged without conviction. It also retrospectively validates the keeping of records collected since 1 October 2008, in breach of the law at the time.

So, obviously, a law worth opposing. However, civil liberties is one of the few policy areas where the Māori Party is able to differentiate itself from its right wing coalition partners, and even then, only insofar as it impacts on Māori.

Current polls point to National being able to govern on its own this November. But if the Māori Party has a role in a future National-led government, it is likely to be along the lines of recent comments made by Tukoroirangi Morgan of Waikato Tainui. Morgan wants to form a consortium of iwi, land trusts and incorporations to buy stakes in any state-owned enterprises that may be part-privatised in the event of a second term for National. He is proposing the formation of a consortium to buy a serious stake in Mighty River Power or Genesis Energy. Read the rest of this entry »


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