Pita Bread & Circuses?

datePosted on 06:23, January 10th, 2009 by Jafapete

“I want the flag up there,” Dr Sharples said. “I think it’s a symbol of the new direction this Government is taking by inviting the Maori Party to be part of it.”

Seems the big issue weighing on the mind of Minister of Maori Affairs and MP for Tamaki Makaurau Pita Sharples is the urgent need for the Tino Rangatiratanga/Maori flag to be flown above the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day. I’ve no problems with that. It would be a symbolic gesture of recognition of the special place the Tangata Whenua have in New Zealand/Aotearoa.

But, “New direction”? You’ve got to be kidding, Pita!

I guess we should expect this from the man who voted to abolish Labour’s legislated tax-cuts for the lower paid in favour of tax cuts for the rich, to reduce protections against arbitrary employer actions at work for (disproportionately Maori) highly mobile workers in small workplaces, etc. I just can’t see how flying the Maori flag on the Auckland Harbour Bridge captures this “new direction.” Or why he’d even want to talk about it.

5 Responses to “Pita Bread & Circuses?”

  1. Lee - MWT on January 10th, 2009 at 06:45

    Good link – I lked this:
    But Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira launched a stinging retaliation, saying Labour was “poncing about in pious and sanctimonious rage about mana-enhancement and the perceived failings of the Maori Party”.

    He said the Maori Party – formed over the foreshore and seabed law – had been “born out of the betrayal of 50 years of blind loyalty to a regime which took the Maori vote and spat on the Maori hand that offered it willingly”.

    “The Maori Party will remain forever a party in this House and a player in the governance of this country, thanks to the treachery, the duplicity and the seditious betrayal of the Maori people.”

    Perhaps this better qualifies the ‘new Direction’ to which Sharples refers?

    I don’t know Lee. Whose treachery is he referring to? The Maori Party’s? I can’t see how he expects to stay in Parliament “forever” on that basis.

    I was opposed to the foreshore and seabed law myself, and could understand the anger, but snuggling up to the kiwi/iwi party seems like, er, cutting off your nose to spite Labour’s face. Don’t you think that Harawira’s rhetoric has a desperate quality, even for a Harawira? JP

  2. Lew on January 10th, 2009 at 09:11

    (To the anonymous commenter below Lee): Whose treachery is he referring to?

    Let’s see – to which party have Māori been `blindly’ loyal for half a century, whose next-to-last government legislated away the rights of hapū to test their legal claim to customary areas of the foreshore and seabed with due process through the courts?

    snuggling up to the kiwi/iwi party seems like, er, cutting off your nose to spite Labour’s face

    The Nats are in with a chance to prove that they’re not the iwi/kiwi party any more. The māori party are taking that chance, and with ministerial roles in it they have the opportunity to help prove that.

    Don’t you think that Harawira’s rhetoric has a desperate quality, even for a Harawira?

    I do think this is grandstanding – but I think the māori party’s stance is much more strategically important than it is tactically. They’re now punishing Labour (rhetorically) for their taking Māori for granted, and that demonstrates that actions beget consequences. Three years of working with National, if they can manage it, will mean the start of a bidding war for the māori party’s support after 2011, and that can only be a good thing for their constituency.

    Normally, at this time of year, I’d be in the wharekōrero at Parihaka, and I’ll be most interested to hear what the māori party have to say for themselves in that forum.

    (For what it’s worth, I’d prefer as a participant in this site if posters would use the comment function themselves for direct responses like this, rather than (anonymously or not) editing their replies into the comments of others, per The Standard and KB. But it’s not a major thing.)

    L

  3. Jafapete on January 10th, 2009 at 10:05

    Lew, ‘Twas me, and I have corrected my comment to make that explicit. I was, as you say, following DPF’s lead, as he seems to know the blogging protocols.

    Let’s see – under which party did Maori make the greatest advances in economic and social terms for many decades, perhaps ever?

    And while I didn’t agree with the legal solution to the seabed and foreshore issue, I can’t help wondering what the iwi/kiwi party would have done. As it is there have been some settlements under Labour’s legislation that would probably never have been countenanced by any National/ACT government.

    The Maori Party, and you, may think that Maori were taken for granted by Labour, but that was not the case. Had it been, the then leader of the very party that Pita et al. are now canoodling with would never have been able to make so much political capital out of dogwhistling the rednecks, would he? “Closing the Gaps” was a major priority of the Labour-led government, no?

    Perhaps someone could hang some flags off the harbour bridge with “No tax cuts for low income NZers” and “No employment protections for low-end workers” to better illustrate the “new direction” for so many Maori. Right next to the National Party logo.

  4. Lew on January 10th, 2009 at 12:05

    JP: Let’s see – under which party did Maori make the greatest advances in economic and social terms for many decades, perhaps ever?

    I’m the last person to argue that the Māori-Labour alliance has been an unmitigated bad for either party. But it sounds like you’re arguing that they should just suck it up and not be so ungrateful when they don’t get their way. Māori (rightly, in my view) consider the gains which have accrued to them under Labour to be a fairly small part of what a similarly-sized voting bloc might otherwise have gained from such a long and loyal alliance. The right to test the FSA in court required no action, no concession on Labour’s part, but the government took positive action to prevent hapū exercising their legal rights.

    And while I didn’t agree with the legal solution to the seabed and foreshore issue, I can’t help wondering what the iwi/kiwi party would have done. As it is there have been some settlements under Labour’s legislation that would probably never have been countenanced by any National/ACT government.

    The `half a loaf is better than no bread’ line of argument. That’s valid, but it presents a moral hazard. Should it not be those who might end up with the bread who choose whether they want a guaranteed half (or in this case, maybe a single slice) or the chance of a whole loaf?

    The Maori Party, and you, may think that Maori were taken for granted by Labour, but that was not the case.

    Well, that’s also a matter for Māori to decide for themselves, and clearly the māori party beg to differ with you on this point. I think Labour took Māori for granted on some issues, Foreshore and Seabed being one of them – but again, my opinion doesn’t matter very much to them, either. As far as I’m concerned, Māori are the best judges of their own needs.

    This sort of white-man’s-burden mentality, the paternalism which says `we’re doing this for your own good’ is the bigger problem between Māori and Labour. This was manifest in the repeal of the FSA, where Parekura, as late as the pre-election Ikaroa-Rawhiti debate with Derek Fox, was saying they were safeguarding the F&S against the possibility of a loss in court. Fundamentally my critique is with this idea that Māori should do what other people think is right for them, rather than what they themselves think is right for them,. In that light I think the māori party’s decision to partner with National is a bold strategic move – if they can make it work, it will mean great things. If not, the challenge is to walk away with their mana and independence intact.

    Had it been, the then leader of the very party that Pita et al. are now canoodling with would never have been able to make so much political capital out of dogwhistling the rednecks, would he?

    While I agree with your premise (that Labour by and large did good things for Māori) this argument doesn’t hold. The nature of such campaigns is that they’re not rational – there’s no need for actual fire to produce the smoke, as it were. This is very clearly exemplified by the `Iwi/Kiwi’ billboard: it refers to the FSA which stripped Māori of their rights rather than granting them more. The rhetoric is entirely at odds with the reality, but that didn’t stop it working.

    Perhaps someone could hang some flags off the harbour bridge with “No tax cuts for low income NZers” and “No employment protections for low-end workers” to better illustrate the “new direction” for so many Maori. Right next to the National Party logo.

    Perhaps someone could. But the question is: would it look like principled opposition, or like sour grapes?

    If you’ll permit me a subprime metaphor, it seems that by coalescing with National, the māori party have gone into debt with their constituency on the promise that they’ll be able to make enough progress to eventually come out ahead. The nature of being a minor party in a largely hostile coalition is going into ideological debt first and paying it back later, whereas National and ACT have begun to pay back their constituencies first. It is churlish to criticise the māori party too harshly before they have had a chance to reap any rewards from their good faith – the time for criticism will come if the payback is too late, or does not adequately fulfil the debt incurred and the expectation of profit held by the constituency.

    L

  5. Lee - MWT on January 10th, 2009 at 22:27

    Forgive me, I would have responded earlier, but work intervened.
    Anyway.

    What Lew said.

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