Tuesday 9 May 2023

Don’t Need A Weatherman: Is New Zealand about to experience storm-force winds from a radicalised Māori electorate?

Coming Home: Very few commentators were willing to call Chris Hipkins’ decisions what any reasonable observer could hardly avoid calling them: the ruthless reassertion of Pakeha power and control. What Meka Whaitiri’s defection to Te Pāti Māori made clear, however, was that Hipkins’ “bread-and-buttering” of Maoridom would not be cost-free.

THE EXTRAORDINARY MUDDLE into which the Labour Government manoeuvred itself over “Three Waters” was entirely avoidable. At its heart lay the all-too-common failing manifested over-and-over again by the senior Pakeha politicians of both major parties. Unconsciously, for the most part, Pakeha political leaders consign “all that Māori stuff” to the agenda space reserved for non-urgent and/or too-difficult-to-explain issues.

This Pakeha failure to treat Māori issues with the same seriousness as those referred to them by Treasury, MFAT, MBIE, Health, Education and Social Development is made a lot easier when Māori colleagues are willing to take responsibility for their own advancement. In the case of Three Waters, Labour’s leadership was quite happy to leave pretty much the whole thing to Nanaia Mahuta. Until it all started turning to custard.

When that happened, the response of Labour’s Pakeha leadership was instructive. First, the person in charge when everything started to go wrong, Jacinda Ardern, decided it was time to go and do something else. Second, Ardern’s successor, Chris Hipkins, took the whole Three Waters project away from Mahuta, demoted her, and then sent her into what looked suspiciously like near-permanent exile. Third, Mahuta’s replacement, at the helm of the now renamed “Affordable Water Reform”, was that emphatically Pakeha Kiwi bloke, Kieran McAnulty.

The political meaning of these decisions was not at all difficult to understand. In the words of Bob Dylan: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

“You” may not, but a surprisingly large fraction of the New Zealand news media found it well-nigh impossible to feel (let alone explain) the wind-shift. Very few commentators were willing to call Hipkins’ decisions what any reasonable observer could hardly avoid calling them: the ruthless reassertion of Pakeha power and control. Nor was there much discernible enthusiasm for reporting on the ramifications of the Labour Māori Caucus’s successful defence of the co-governance elements of Three Waters. A more hands-on style of Pakeha leadership had clearly come at the price of keeping co-governance in play. How else to explain McAnulty becoming a more eloquent defender of tino rangatiratanga than Willie Jackson?

There was a similar failure on the part of many journalists to link the defection of the Labour MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, Meka Whaitiri, with the Government’s arguably racist “bread-and-buttering” of Māori policy. A gleeful John Tamihere might hail Labour’s loss of Whaitiri as Te Pāti Māori’s gain, but he forbore from explaining her departure in terms of the Labour leadership’s unconscious prejudices concerning the responsibility – or otherwise – of their Māori colleagues. Hipkins’ refusal to reinstate Whaitiri as a full member of Cabinet may, or may not, have been justified, but the Māori woman who leap-frogged the Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP into Cabinet, Northland MP Willow-Jean Prime, presents as a very different sort of Māori politician to the woman who preserved the flax-roots nurtured by her kaiako, Parekua Horomia.

The defenestration of Elizabeth Kerekere raises some very similar questions about just how far down the road that leads to “transformation” Pakeha politicians – even Green politicians – are prepared to go with their Māori colleagues. It’s one thing to blithely swear fealty to the “principles” of te Tiriti o Waitangi, quite another to put those principles into practice in ways that ruffle the feathers of the status quo. Blaming the world’s ills on “Cis White Males” has a revolutionary ring to it, but it is not at all the same as promising te iwi Māori control over Aotearoa’s water, or restoring “stolen” Māori land to its rightful custodians.

While the polls continue to identify Te Pāti Māori as the holder of the votes necessary to keep Labour and the Greens on the Treasury benches, however, the contemplation of revolutionary demands is something the centre-left will find extremely difficult to avoid.

Of course, contemplation and implementation are two very different things. Jacinda Ardern contemplated a revolutionary anti-capitalist transformation in the early days of her prime-ministership. More than that, she went to Waitangi and instructed Māori to hold her government accountable for how faithfully it upheld the principles of the Treaty. Ardern soon discovered, however, that implementing Labour’s promises was a lot harder than making them. This was serious, because nothing is more likely to cause a revolution than raising the expectations of the poor and the marginalised – and then failing to meet them.

Ultimately, the management of expectations may turn out to be as big a problem for Te Pāti Māori as it is for Labour and the Greens. If Whaitiri is going to win Ikaroa-Rawhiti for her new party, then she is going to have to paint her former Māori colleagues as politicians who talk big, but, whenever the Pakeha majority shows signs of restiveness, allow their colleagues to slam on the policy brakes and throw Labour’s political vehicle into reverse.

It is vital that Te Pāti Māori does not do the same. Its promises of transformation must be unequivocal and non-negotiable. Either, Labour and the Greens embrace the revolution, or, they shuffle-off to the Opposition benches. Regardless of the centre-left’s choice, Te Pāti Māori must not loosen its grip on the radical bunting.

It is difficult to see the Labour Party that abandoned the transformational policy agenda of its Māori caucus for a “bread-and-butter” manifesto being willing to radicalise itself in sympathy with the Greens and Te Pāti Māori. Frankly, it is easier to see Labour quietly reconciling itself to electoral defeat. Sitting back and watching National and Act attempting to solve New Zealand’s rapidly growing list of intractable problems must, surely, have its attractions?

But, what if the New Zealand electorate refuses to let Labour throw the electoral fight? What if Te Pāti Māori mobilises younger voters in unprecedented numbers? What if the Greens do the same? What if, in spite of Labour’s best efforts, the electorate swings sharply to the left? What if, when all the votes are counted, National and Act simply do not have enough to form a government? What then?

One answer is that Labour and National might suddenly discover that they have more in common with one another than they do with the parties representing the extremes, and agree to form a Grand Coalition. Such a solution would, however, offer only a short-term respite, since the processes of radicalisation on both the right and the left would, almost certainly, intensify.

The choice facing voters in three years’ time might not even include Labour and National. “All that Māori stuff” may no longer permit the reassertion of Pakeha power and control. It is even possible that Pakeha may no longer want it.

This essay was originally posted on the Interest.co.nz website on Monday, 8 May 2023.


Shane McDowall said...

The Maori MPs and the Maori commintariate make me laugh.

They are all bourgeois Maori earning good money by being professional Maoris.

I cannot think of one Maori MP who has, in my lifetime, made a blind bit of difference to the sociologists paradise that is contemporary Maori society.

Thirty years ago, about 90% of children bashed to death, and 90% of the perpetrators, were Maori. 2023 and nothing has changed.

I contacted the Maori Party to tell me what their Maori solution to this Maori problem is.

I have yet to get a reply.

As for 'cis white males', I note that 'transgender activist', Shaneel Lal, is a refugee from the intolerance of his own culture.

If it were not for cis white male colonists, he would be stuck in the living hell that was his life prior to fleeing to New Zealand.

'New Zealander of the Year' my arse. More like 'Woke New Zealander of the Year'.

The Barron said...

There is a cringe factor every four years. England bring out campaigns and songs for the World (football) Cup. The cry is - "Its coming home". Sadly for them, they won it once in 1966 - even Uruguay has more title. If they couldn't get more sad, they extended "its coming home" to the European Cup, which England has never won - "home"??.

I was reminded of this delusional behaviour when Rawiri Waititi celebrated Ikaroa-Rāwhiti's forced marriage with Te Pati Maori. The actual electorate of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti had not mandated this, and the speaker later ruled that Meka Whaitiri could not represent Te Pati Maori in Parliament. But the idea that all Maori should be subordinate and subsumed by a single political identity and leadership remains the view of Waititi and the emphasis of explaining Whaitiri's political movement.

Whaitiri herself has been clear, it was not about policy. It seems she was not wishing for her 'emancipation' when she was a full cabinet member. It is difficult at that stage to suggest she did not have the support of her party as she had been given elevation over many of her contemporaries. Labour had acknowledged and enhanced her mana. Then she is found to have bullied a Maori staff member. The Parliamentary Labour Party has an absolute legal industrial obligation to protect the staff member, that the person is Maori brings a specific obligation to protect that person's mana. Because of her own abhorrent actions, Whaitiri was stood down as a cabinet member. Her mana may have been affected, but as a result of reasonable adjudication of her behaviour. The fact that there was a damaged Maori staff member seems to have been overlooked by Te Pati Maori naturalising itself as the only voice of Maori.

Whaitiri remained co-chair of the Labour Maori caucus. Part of that role is ensuring Maori empowering policy gets traction, and that members of that caucus are promoted. She has stated it was not policy that was the problem. Many insider commentators have suggested that the promotion of other members of the Maori caucus, Kiri Allan and Willow-Jean Prime most cited. How can you trust your caucus chair when her aim is self-promotion not the empowerment of others in the caucus? It Te Pati Maori which to promote whanaungatanga and Maori consensus politics, they are absorbing egocentric values with Whaitiri.

I should note a couple of other things. Thank you Chris for you Dylanesque headline. It is a good reminder that the poorly drafted "waka-jumping" legislation was a direct ham-fisted reaction of Winston Peters to the defection of the former weatherman (literal, not urban terrorist) Brendon Horan.

Final comment is Dr Kerekere. Gone and already forgotten.

Gary Peters said...

"I cannot think of one Maori MP who has, in my lifetime, made a blind bit of difference to the sociologists paradise that is contemporary Maori society."

Sir Apirana Ngata

"Sir Āpirana Turupa Ngata was a prominent New Zealand statesman. He has often been described as the foremost Māori politician to have served in parliament in the mid-20th century, and is also known for his work in promoting and protecting Māori culture and language"

Sir Peter Tapsell.

Even Winston Peters has made a difference by showing maori that they are able to reach as near to the top as is possible. If you don't think that doesn't impact many then you are not thinking!

David George said...

The defenestrations, defections and demotions are more the result of some pretty offensive behaviour I suspect Chris. What the hell is it with the Maori MPs? Arrogance? Complete contempt for the law, parliament and anyone, even their own party colleagues not fully on board with their racist fantasies?

I think the people are pretty disgusted to see Waititi & Co straight out "misleading" the Speaker and having a right tantrum when they're called out on their BS, or Kiri Allen and Willy Jackson lecturing the State broadcasters. To say nothing of the odious greed apparent in claims for racial and tribal ownership of the commons. So where will their support come from? What possible motivation would anyone not part of this, that is to say 95% of us, have to support them. People aren't that stupid. Are they?

David George said...

It's all starting to look very like a re-run of the French revolution - not just the "radicalised Maori" factor; the whole thing. Will the people just stand by and let it happen or fight?

"A counterrevolution is building, not just because people are angry at what has become of their country, but because they now are learning that if they do nothing, they will have no country—and soon."

This is from an American perspective but the same things are surely happening here:

David George said...

Well that's that then, National have now made it clear they won't deal with TMP after the election. What took them so long?

How could anyone, the desperate and deluded aside, be comfortable forming an alliance with blatant racists?
Here's just one example of what you're really dealing with, from their website: "It is a known fact that Maori genetic makeup is stronger than others". Ethno nationalist racial supremacists is who they are.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Gary – Winston Peters had quite good policy when he was Minister of Maori affairs. It was years ago and I was studying it for a politics paper. Of course it was knocked on the head by those in the National party who don't like people they consider to be beneath them getting "something for nothing". And of course Winston was allegedly "no good under the high ball". You might like to note that David if you're collecting racisms.

Gerrit said...

Mr Trotter;

Is it not time that you substituted Pakeha for New Zealanders? There are other races here and who are, like many other New Zealanders, "Born Of This Land".

This constant Pakeha versus Maori overlooks all other New Zealanders' opinion.

You make it sound they (the non Pakeha or Maori) dont have a voice. They do and marginalising them only adds to your now very narrow terms of reference to any article you write.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Radicalism doesn't spring out of nothing. If Maori had been radicalised, it might be as well to look at the reasons – and they're not all contained within Maori. The political system which hasn't really delivered for them since the decades following the 1930s should bear some of the blame. It should be a chance for reflection, but I doubt somehow that there will be much reflecting.


From an American perspective? You seem to think there is only one, David. And this one seems to have very low journalistic standards.

"In 2021, the website published an unsubstantiated story based on anonymous sourcing alleging that South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) was having an extramarital affair with former Trump campaign advisor Corey Lewandowski. 11 Noem denied the claims, for which other journalists had found no solid evidence. 12

American Greatness published articles challenging the mainstream media’s account of the January 6, 2021, riot in which Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 Electoral College win. 13 One article raised questions about whether an FBI sting operation played a role in the riot. 14 The outlet has also covered the alleged mistreatment of prisoners charged with crimes allegedly related to the riot. 15:

"This is the Capitalist Pentecost
Submit to the modernist’s spirit of avarice
Defer now to the mocha-skinned Lazarus
Know this, you are more rich than him
If not in cash, then in your white skin
The worm is possessed by cool-kid perception
Considers himself a great exception
To all those evil, racist whites
Whose recalcitrance impedes his rights
To trample on their spirit more
To profit from the endless wars
And from the labor multiplied
And from the masses demoralized
Who still turn to the worm for guidance because
For America, he professes love
Not for her people (those, he hates)
They are but low-life reprobates
But for what nation she could be
If she increased her liberty
And turned her unscathed, generous face
Toward parasites that “earn their place”
And spread her ample, gentle thighs
For those who come and tribalize
And offered her abundant breast
To those who maybe pass a test
And even those who don’t "

And they publish racist poetry. 😇

Shane McDowall said...


Ngata died before I was born. Well before.

Frankly I don't think much of him. He was a philanderer.

Bruce McLaren should be on the $50 note. Katherine Mansfield on the $10.

Peter Tapsell was a conservative bourgeois who properly belonged in the National Party. He was a second rate surgeon and a third rate politician.

Winston Peters made his political bones by being the Maori MP who did Maori bashing.You may remember the Hawaiian loan 'scandal'. Like Tapsell, he is a conservative bourgeois and his following is overwhelmingly white bourgeois conservatives.

And I stand by my claim that none of the Maori MPs have made a blind bit of difference to Maori dysfunction.

hesiod said...

I have read the RULES for posting however I find the assertions and asssumptions about TPM becoming a force to be nit wit nonsense. Marvin Harris in his nifty little exposition on the effects of post modernism on angthropology and the social sciences illuminates a pathology he calls ethnomania where societal groups invent histories and cultural activities for themselves that have no basis in reality of which the Maori Party is a prime example. In my opinion they will never hold the balance of power and are destined for oblivion at the election and any speculation regarding the demise of the left and the Labour party in particular is obscurantist literary criticism that deserves no consideration whatsoever

Gary Peters said...

I stand by my assertion that there are many maori politicians that have made a beneficial difference to all New Zealanders and the assertions against both Peter Tapsell and Apirana Ngata betray ignorance in my opinion.

I do not subscribe to Winston Peters' politics generally nor his methods but in 2017 NZ First received more votes from maori than the maori party I believe.

In 2020 there were approx 450,000 voters registered as maori but the maori party only gained 35,000 voted so I don't class them as "speaking for maori" in any way at all.

John Hurley said...

The elephant in the room is water ownership.
It's time to look back at the parliamentary debates.
The Ontologies of Water Ownership (and power plant levies)

sumsuch said...

Boy, democracy is short-term, much like our species. We share that with our fellow animals. 2027 for the 1.5 degree temp increase now.

It's laughable, from the only species that laughs much.

This process is silly. I'd prefer Lee Kuan Yew on the job.

That I'm on a blog comment section complaining about reality, not effectually, is a strange thing. Reality is secondary to our drowsy self-obsessed culture. Our crisis is 1000 times that of WW ll.

It's so silly, Chris.