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 »

Queer Our Schools: tomorrow

October 5, 2011

Facebook event

Election series article # 3 : The Nature of National

October 5, 2011

This article by Jared Phillips and Josh Glue is concerned with characterising the type of National Party that is in government today. Originally published in the October issue of The Spark.

In a 2007 Agenda interview with then-new National Party leader John Key, Lisa Owen asked him about the difference in leadership style between himself and his predecessor, now-Act leader, Don Brash. Key’s reply was:

Well I think leadership’s always a very personal thing, it’s the way that you approach the issues, the image that you put off, the things that maybe you want to discuss, I mean fundamentally Don and I share the same view which is that we think New Zealand under-performs and we think that the future can be much brighter with a National government with the policies that we want to invoke, so I don’t think our fundamental aim was different, we may choose to focus on - in the very short term some different issues and you’ve possibly seen that in my approach since I’ve taken over as the leader.

This is an interesting reply as it draws out one of the key issues surrounding the nature of the National Party. Is National fundamentally a neo-liberal party, playing a strong public relations (PR) game, with the Act party playing a role as its most neo-liberal flank? Or is National a centrist party eager not to alienate its apparent support from echelons of the working class?

Read the rest of this entry »

Queer Our Schools

October 4, 2011
“it’s about human rights, stupid” - Oscar WildeThe Queer Avengers is launching its “Queer our Schools” campaign on 6 October with a march from the Ministry of Education at 45-47 Pipitea St, Thorndon, Wellington. We will be marching to Midland Park on Lambton Quay for speeches and entertainment.

Our youth-focused campaign is our first of three campaigns. Our other two campaigns on gender variants and older queers are still b…eing formulated.

Below is the list of demands for our youth-focused campaign and our immediate goals for this march.

Demands to the Ministry of Education:

1. Government resourcing for the formation of student-led, community supported queer-straight alliances in every secondary school in the country.
2. Incorporating sexuality and gender variance diversity into all relevant subjects, including history, health, science and English.
3. Making schools accessible and safe for gender variant students

A. Gender neutral bathrooms/private changing facilities

B. Non-gendered dress codes

C. Resources and education which fits the needs of gender variant students

D. Trans affirming spaces and role models

4. Zero-tolerance of homophobic & transphobic bullying and requiring professional development of staff to model queer positive spaces.

Our demands shouldn’t come as a surprise to the Ministry of Education. For years they have flaunted their legal care-of-duty to provide a safe mental and physical environment for students. It has known since at least the last 2007 Youth Report that schools are not safe places for queer youth. 33% of GLB youth reported being bullied at school on the basis of their sexual identity. We know that schools are not sites where queer identities are affirmed, where queer people can learn about their history and where they are encouraged to explore their queerness. If schools were affirming sites, the statistics on GLB youth making an actual attempt at suicide would not be five times higher than that for heterosexual students (20% as opposed to 4%). Further, the Ministry has also known since the 2008 Human Rights Commission’s report “To Be Who I Am” that schools remain simply inaccessible to many gender-variant youth. Education is a human right, yet the Ministry has done nothing to remove the barriers which make simply going to school a herculean task for youth who either don’t fit into the gender binary or are transitioning somewhere else along the spectrum.

We know that these statistics are not just numbers but real people. For years the Ministry has known these problems have existed yet have managed not to take any action to either making schools safe places for queers or simply accessible for gender-variant students. It’s time to hold them to account. It’s time to say that enough lives have been hurt due to their inaction.

If you want to get involved, contact us at thequeeravengers@gmail.com

Election series article # 2: Breaking with the Labour Party

October 3, 2011

By Ian Anderson, Workers Party member. Originally published in the October Spark.

As leftists call for an end to the oppressive National Party government, we must also understand what the alternatives are. A Labour-led government remains the most immediate possibility. This leads us to consider the opportunities and threats a Labour government would pose for the left, and what other roads we might take.

The Labour Party is committed to maintaining the capitalist order. While in their early days they made reference to socialism, their history since their first election is one of antagonism  with the militant sections of the working class, especially at junctures where class contradictions are sharpened; the repression of watersiders in the 1930s, through to the devastating application of Rogernomics. This history is well and accurately detailed in the pamphlet The Truth About Labour. This article will aim to describe the Labour Party in its current form. Read the rest of this entry »

Election series article # 1: Mana Party pushes working class issues this election

October 2, 2011

Drawn from our experiences in Mana this article by Jared Phillips puts forward a socialist appraisal of the party so far. Originally published in the October issue of the Spark.

Formation of the Mana Party
The Maori Party, after going into government with the National and Act parties fell into line and became supportive of anti-working class policies such as increasing GST (a consumer tax). As Maori Party MP for Te Tai Tokerau (the Northern-most Maori electorate) Hone Harawira opposed this and he wrote publically against the direction of the Maori Party. This is one example of how Hone stood out by not conforming to political pressure. It led to an internal dispute within the Maori Party in which Hone – in parliamentary terms – was in a minority.

Essentially the Maori Party was a cross-class party, meaning it had no defined orientation to the working class and little orientation to working class or poor Maori in contrast to layers of Maori bourgeoisie. Our own socialist group was clear about this in relation to the Maori Party. However, we lacked the long-term political foresight to see that the class differences in the Maori Party would likely result in a rupture on class and social justice lines.

A further important catalyst for the formation of the Mana Party was the introduction of the Marine and Coastal (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 by the National/Act/Maori parliamentary majority. The Takutai Moana Act repealed Labour’s Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 (F&S Act). Labour’s F&S Act had dispossessed Maori of the right to take a case regarding title over foreshore and seabed areas to the Maori Land Court, a right which had been won in a Court of Appeal case. Whilst the F&S Act brought all such areas under Crown ownership (aside from areas with private title), the Takutaimoana Act brings such areas under ‘common ownership’ meaning such areas cannot be owned. Therefore there is still no right for Maori to claim title over such areas, although there is a right to make claims for protected custody rights. Maori-led criticism of the Act is also based on the extraordinarily high threshold of proof showing customary use dating back to 1840 that is required in order to acquire protected custody under the Act. This led to a significant support and membership departure from the Maori Party to the Mana Party and to a more forceful insistence on Treaty-based rights.

Separate to the above-described process, and on a smaller scale, another process had been taking place since October 2010 involving leftists. There were some discussions amongst leftists – of both the far-left and of left-social democratic persuasion – about the idea of forming a new left party. There were media rumours about a new party being formed by Sue Bradford and Matt McCarten. The most formal of these discussions took place at a left dialogue meeting at the end of Unite Union’s first national conference in November 2011. Generally there was an apprehension about the formation of a new left party because of the low level of class struggle in New Zealand. Matt McCarten of Unite and Joe Carolan of Socialist Aotearoa were amongst the strongest in favour of proceeding with such a project.

When the contradiction between the Maori Party and Harawira came to a conclusion, many of those who had participated in the ‘new left party’ discussion, and others from active left tendencies, took an open approach to Mana and most soon decided to participate, help build, and make a contribution to shape the Mana Party. Read the rest of this entry »

Pure Advantage: “When we say climate, we mean business”

October 1, 2011

Entry into the Pure Advantage “Green Growth” campaign by Climate Justice Aotearoa.


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