The latest Maori Party i-Panui is out, and it is a very interesting read – much for what is left out than what is included. Predictably, effort has been placed on refuting the oppositions claims that the Maori Party have turned their back on Te Whanau a Apanui and Ngati Porou in relation to the offshore exploration currently being undertaken by Petrobas. Going on the offensive, the Maori Party have reminded everyone of Te Ururoa Flavell’s vocal opposition to the grant of the exploratory permit by the Government last June. The problem for the party is that in politics, explaining is losing.
What did disappoint me was the complete absence of any discussion on the issue of land development, following the release of two reports in April on this subject. As I blogged about here, unlocking the potential of Maori land is the most important issue facing Maori today because of its power to transform the Maori economy.
One thing that is certain, is that the Maori Party have a clear idea of who they are and what their core policies are:
- Upholding Maori kaitiaki over our natural environment;
- Promoting social welfare through Whanau Ora and addressing the rising living costs;
- The reduction of social harm caused by such activities as smoking and gambling; and
- The elimination of child poverty by 2025.
I acknowledge that many within Te Ao Maori will argue that the Maori Party has not gone far enough, and that they have allowed the National Party to further denigrate the rights of Maori. That is the nature of politics: You can either stick fundamentally to your ideals and forever find yourself sitting on the sidelines (look at how the Greens have performed over the past 20 years); or you can work constructive with the Government of the day and take as many small wins as you can. Either way, any Maori-based party will have to deal with a Labour-led or a National-led Government. We as Maori are fools if we think Labour will prove to be any different from National when it comes to Maori Tino Rangatiratanga.
Hone Harawira perhaps said it best when he agreed to support the current National Government with the statement that “the difference between National and Labour is that National stab you in the front.” The choice for Maori this year is simple. Support a Hone Harawira led party who will have no influence whatsoever over a National Government; or continue to back a party which in three years has managed several small, but important wins, in progressing Maori rights.