June 26, 2011

The best tweets from Twitter during last nights by-election results.

1: Mihingarangi Forbes coming to the party a few hours late.

Mihi_Forbes Mihingarangi Forbes

Just testing twitter I’m new! Apparently #TTT is the rage. Tina wickcliffe started that.

2: The things journalists do for a story.

k8chap Kate Chapman

I want some dinner after the #TTT excitement, but the only thing open in Kaitaia is the liquor store. #don‘tdrinkdriveonworktime.

3: One of many messages of support for Hone.

preteentious ben rosamond
first good thing in nz politics since [a long time ago] just happened. tumeke. thank you #ttt, thank you hone. mana 2011.

4: Twitter, connecting politicians with the people through the media.

TinaWickliffe Tina Wickliffe

Just told Hone he’s trending, he reckons ‘am I the buzz?’. Yip, even the haters are tweeting his name. #TTT

5: The power of prediction markets, and John Key’s ability to call an election correctly.

jhartevelt John Hartevelt

Wonder if @johnkeypm lost any cash on i-Predict tonight… #TTT

6: Tipene hung out to dry?

babalonsister Katherine Curran

Feel appalled that Solomon Tipene didn’t have anyone supporting him when he conceded. Has his leadership run for the hills? #TTT#poorloosers

7: A somewhat mathematically flawed attempt to support a poll which was out by a massive margin.  You were out by 7% after predicting a 1% gap, deal with it.

julianwilcox Julian Wilcox

Oh…and Native Affairs said Hone up by 1% two weeks ago…Hone wins with an 8% majority.Margin of error means we were out by 2.5%. #TTT

8: Twitter, once again connecting politicians with the public via the media.

TinaWickliffe Tina Wickliffe

‘Hone hard’ is the catch cry here. Hone says he cant wait to come to Parly in Nov with more MPs. #GameOn #TTT

9: Ouch

julianwilcox Julian Wilcox

Solomon Tipene just broke a thousand #TTT

10: Counting got held up in some booths, more important issues to discuss.

cameronmorrisnz Cameron Morris

sorry for the slight delay folks. There was a foreshore and seabed debate on at booth no.125. ;-) #TTT

11: True, but the third horse was running lame 1500 metres from home.

n8tvaffairs Annabelle Lee-Harris

Solomon Tipene still insisting its was a 3 horse race. #TTT

12: I hope for his sake he backed Hone.

MeganCampbellNZ Megan Campbell

Just found out how much my lovely husband has “invested” on Ipredict #TTT

13: My personal favourite, election results not only easier to understand, but much tastier.

LewStoddart Lew

I propose we measure the #TTT margin in ‘hāngi’ — as in “It would take X hāngi to feed that many people”.

What Defeat Means for the Maori Party

June 23, 2011

It will probably come as no surprise to regular readers of this site that I am a supporter of the Maori Party.  That is why I am disheartened with the manner in which the Maori Party have approached the Te Tai Tokerau by-election.  From start to finish the entire campaign has been nothing short of shambolic, and the recent mea culpa by Tariana Turia should be a massive wake-up call to those running the Party that things need to change or they face the real possibility of political oblivion.

Every indication points towards a win for either Kelvin Davis or Hone Harawira and, as much as I want to be a cheerleader for the Maori Party, the realist in me recognises that it is a lost cause at this stage.  The party hierarchy and Solomon Tipene will continue to hold out hope, as you would expect them to, but I am sure that they know just as well as most supporters do that the Native Affairs Poll put an end to their chances of retaining the seat.

So what does a defeat mean for the Maori Party? And what needs to be done to bounce back from such a result?  Losing the seat will be a big blow to the party just 6 months out from a general election but it is not the end of the road by any means.  Hone Harawira and Kelvin Davis are two very strong, high-profile, candidates and it was always going to be difficult for a political novice like Solomon Tipene to win the seat.  As respected and knowledgable as he is, in the cut and thrust of politics he has been found wanting.

However, I do not believe that he was the wrong candidate.  To the contrary, he is exactly what the Maori Party needed for this by-election.  His age, experience and standing within the Maori community are such that he would represent the Party with dignity and with honour and provide a strong base for the party in the North.  My belief is that it was more important for the Maori Party to show the people of Te Tai Tokerau that it was not deserting them, and Tipene’s candidacy has shown that.  While not strong enough to win, he demonstrates a strong commitment to remain active in the seat and to continue fighting for the people of Te Tai Tokerau.

It is, therefore, this spirit which will carry the Maori Party through many successful years in Government – both with National and Labour as partners.  The Party seeks to represent the nationwide centre and centre-right Maori constituency while staying true to Kaupapa Maori and Tikanga Maori.  It has proven at times to be a difficult balance to achieve, although the ideal of Tino Rangatiratanga aligns itself more with the right-wing belief in the freedom of groups/individuals then it does with the left-wing attitudes towards Government regulation and intervention.  So long as the Maori Party remains true to itself, and continues to advocate for policies such as Whanau Ora and seeks to provide Maori solutions for Maori issues then it has the ability, unmatched currently by Te Mana, to reach Maori across the county.

How does the Maori Party respond?  There will no doubt be a lot of soul-searching going on within the Maori Party should they lose Te Tai Tokerau on Saturday.  Obviously a close result will be good news, even if Tipene comes in a distant third.  An electorate split between Harawira and Davis will mean that a national campaign by Te Mana might be a bridge too far, especially with their limited financial resources.  In any event, Te Ao Maori is not well-served by a direct Maori Party v. Te Mana battle.  Both parties seek to provide independent voices for Maori within Parliament and both speak to different portions of the Maori electorate.  A win for Davis, or a close win for Harawira will be enough to reassure the Maori Party that Te Mana will not be a national threat.  It is very likely that most of the support that Hone receives in the North is personal support rather than a firm belief in Te Mana and a reduced vote for him will come close to a rejection of Te Mana.

The personal rather than political support of Maori MP’s is also true of the other Maori electorates where all, with the possible exception of Te Tai Tonga, are held by MP’s with very strong followings within their electorate.  In fact, a close look at the Maori electorate MP’s reveals a group of politicians with more Mana, more experience, more knowledge, and more ability than many of the general electorate MP’s.  For this reason Turia, Sharples and Flavell are safe in their electorate seats.

Elsewhere, a rejuvenation is needed.  New candidates need to be promoted in Te Tai Tokerau, Waikato-Tainui and Ikaroa-Rawhiti who represent the next generation of Maori leaders.  The Party needs to get better at promoting Rangatahi Maori through to positions of leadership and into Parliament.  Every minor party in this country has had to deal with the problems of succession when the popular initial leaders step aside.  The Progressives will disappear when Jim Anderton retires, New Zealand First is struggling along with Winston Peters but its vote will collapse completely once he throws in the towel and the same goes for Peter Dunne and his United Future.  Only the Greens have successfully managed the transition from its inspirational ‘founders’ to survive with two fresh faces at the helm.  It is an approach that should be adopted by the Maori Party in the next term.

A two-term succession policy should be implemented prior to this election to ensure the long-term viability of the Maori Party.  If Rahui Katene can retain Te Tai Tonga then she is a very strong candidate to take over the Wahine leadership position during the next Parliamentary term.  A capable lawyer, and strong behind the scenes worker, she is well-placed to provide leadership from a Southern seat and an indication that she is next in line will also boost her campaign in Te Tai Tonga.

The most important action that the Maori Party needs to undertake is to get smarter when it comes to coalition negotiations.  The 2008 Agreement with the National Party was lacking in detail and breadth and left plenty of room for its rivals to attack.  With 4 or 5 MP’s after the November election, the Maori Party will once again be in a position to influence the next Government. And whether it be a National-led or Labour-led Government, the Party needs to set out very clearly in any Confidence and Supply Agreement the specific areas it will support and seek concessions in and the issues that it absolutely refuses to support.  This will be a strong statement to its supporters that its ideals will not be seen to be compromised.

By-Election Questions

June 19, 2011

1: Another debate, another win for Harawira. But how many people in the Electorate would have gotten up on a Sunday morning to watch it?

2: Are these also the same people who do not have landlines?

3: With Harawira’s main support coming from young people who for one do not vote in large numbers and two, are unlikely to be awake before midday on a Sunday – are these debates more about exciting the pundits then it is about the electorate?

4: The Maori Party to stick with Solomon Tipene? That will make a good Tui billboard.

5: Or is it as likely as Harawira sitting around a table with the other Maori MP’s for a full term?

6: Does Kelvin Davis have an original thought or have the Labour Party PR team surgically removed that ability from him?

7: If Harawira does win, will New Zealand then choose to elect a Labour/Green/NZ First/Mana Party Government in November?

8: How much fun would that be?

9: And in a battle of ego’s, who would win – Harawira or Peters?

10: Is that why the Greens are discussing the possibility of maybe thinking about considering entering into a stronger relationship with National?

11: Do Ratana really believe that Harawira is the new Messiah or are they simply trying to win the battle of the Churches?

12: If a Destiny endorsement can turn supporters off the Mana Party, imagine the damage that could be inflicted through the endorsements of Tuku Morgan and Mark Solomon.

13: Do the people of Te Tai Tokerau even care? Or is it simply a sideshow which will make very little difference to the struggles that they currently face?

Native Affairs Debate

June 13, 2011

As I am currently rocking life without a TV, I was unable to watch the Te Tai Tokerau by-election debate live.  By all accounts it was a good one and I hope Maori TV have the video up on the website soon so I can review it – so check back later in the week for my analysis.

In the meantime, I would be interested in your thoughts about the issues discussed and who you thought won the debate.

Is Harawira Failing the North?

June 11, 2011

Now that I have got your attention on this typically wet winter’s day, I want to reflect for a bit on the issue of youth unemployment and the Maori economy.  The New Zealand Herald today has an article about the huge difficulties faced by our Rangatahi in Te Tai Tokerau to find a job and notes that unemployment is a massive problem in the region:

Three years ago, when only 10 per cent of working-age New Zealanders were on benefits, the figure was already 16 per cent in Northland. It was 19 per cent for Northlanders aged 18 to 24, and 35 per cent for Northland Maori.

Today still only 12 per cent of working-age New Zealanders are on welfare. But in Northland it is 21 per cent, for Northlanders aged 18 to 24 it is 29 per cent, and for Northland Maori it is an extraordinary 48 per cent – roughly every second Maori person you meet.

This is a deeply depressing story regarding an issue that I hope all candidates in the up-coming by-election will start to really talk about what their parties will do to halt, and reverse, this crisis.

Addressing The Crisis

Obviously, the headline is hyperbolic.  One cannot hold an MP personally responsible for the economic failings of his electorate, even after representing them for 6 years, 2 of which were in Government.  There are bigger forces at play here.

One of which is the abolishment of the youth wage by the previous Labour Government and the refusal of the National Party to reinstate them.  Eric Crampton over at Offsetting Behaviour has discussed the abolishment of youth wages on several occasions recently, concluded that this has had a dramatic increase in the youth unemployment rate.  It is simple economics, when the price is higher people buy less – so when the price of labour is higher, less will be employed. The issue with a minimum wage is always a trade-off between reducing unemployment and providing workers with an honourable standard of living.  Young people will often be priced out of the market in times of recession primarily because business owners will seek to employ more experienced workers, or at least retain those workers with more experience.

None of the three by-election parties have really addressed the question of youth unemployment in Te Tai Tokerau.  We hear a lot of debate about the cost of living, asset sales, and racism – but very little ideas are coming through around addressing what has now become the most important issue in this month’s by-election.  The Maori Party achieved some new funding for Maori education in this years budget and over time this will benefit the Rangatahi in Te Tai Tokerau, but something more substantial is clearly needed.

What is needed are more trades training schemes, more iwi involvement in youth education and employment, a greater focus on continued education and the hope that the expected economic recovery during the second half of 2011 will materalise and serve to benefit the North as much (if not more) as it does the rest of Aotearoa/New Zealand. The Maori TV By-Election debate on Monday provides each of the three parties the opportunity to lay out their framework for addressing this crisis.  With the importance of this issue, it is crucially important that we start pressuring our political leaders to take action.

Anger over Destiny Support

June 7, 2011

The decision by leading Maori politicians to attend the Destiny Church Conference over the weekend is coming under increasing attack by many in the LGBT community.  Various excuses are being made by the politicians involved, mainly along the lines that it is election year and attendance was not about agreeing with the Church but to use the platform that the Church provided.

What these politicians are saying, however, is that they value their re-election more than they value Maori who are the target of homophobic vitriol.  The following press release was issued by Dr. Leonie Pihama and highlights the strength of feeling surrounding this controversy.

Māori Politicians placate homophobia for votes.

The recent attendance of a group of Māori male politicians at the Destiny Church annual conference and their advocacy for the supposed benefits of that church to Māori people highlights the political purgatory that Māori find ourselves in leading up to the November election.

The scenes of Pita Sharples, Hone Harawira, Tau Henare and Shane Jones lining up to be ‘blessed’ and to hear their platitudes of thanks to a homophobic and misogynist institution is not merely disturbing it is sickening. We should never forget the ‘enough is enough’ hate marches instigated by Destiny Church. We should never forget the kinds of hate speeches that Māori gay and lesbian whānau were bombarded with during the Civil Union debate, and the ongoing homophobia that Destiny Church leaders and members continue to openly express with both fervor and hatred.

So, who benefits from a group of heterosexual Māori male politicians standing on such a stage? Not one of those Māori men challenged the underpinning homophobia and misogyny that is espoused by Brian Tamaki. Rather it was avoided like the plague. What does that say to the many Māori gay and lesbian people within our whānau? It says that yet again we are easily sacrificed for 0.5% of the vote.

Dr Leonie Pihama
Māori And Indigenous Analysis Ltd.
Fulbright Scholar, Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, University of Seattle.

It is never ok to spread hatred towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation, and those who do should never receive the support (either explicitly or implicitly) of Maori politicians.  The Destiny Church should not be supported by Maori politicians, it should be criticised and ostracised from the Maori political debate.  We, as Maori men, need to realise that just as it is not ok to hit our partners or our children, nor is it ok to hate others because of their sexual orientation.  Sadly, our political leaders did not live up to that ideal over the weekend.

Northland Waitangi Tribunal Inquiry Redux

June 3, 2011

About a year ago I commented on the progress of the Waitangi Tribunal Hearings in Northland regarding the meaning and effect of He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti over at the Settler Colonial Studies Blog.  I have decided to repost that interview here to remind ourselves of these important issues.  What follows is the discussion I had with Edward Cavanagh about the hearings and the these important documents.

joshua hitchcock sets the record straight regarding ngapuhi, sovereignty, and legal pluralism in new zealand

I have been following the recent Ngapuhi case in NZ, and have made a few comments on this blog about the matter herehere and here. I admit that I have been stabbing in the dark quite a bit, and unsurprisingly, I have made a few errors in my coverage.

An experienced Maori lawyer, Joshua Hitchcock, was recently kind enough to offer some of his personal insights into the proceedings. These, along with a brief Q+A we shared, are reproduced here on the settler colonial studies blog with his permission, for the benefit of its readers and the wider media.

JH: The claim is not that He Whakaputanga (the declaration of independence) removes Ngapuhi from the scope of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, but rather that the two documents need to be read together.  He Whakaputanga did not create a Maori state, or a Ngapuhi state – it affirmed the independence of Maori from all other sovereign powers and put the world on notice that sovereignty over New Zealand belonged to Maori.  The British recognised our declaration of sovereignty in 1835.  Te Tiriti o Waitangi still extends over Ngapuhi regardless of the existence of He Whakaputanga – the common misconception is that Maori ceded sovereignty to the British under Te Tiriti.  This is not true.  What was ceded was kawanatanga – literally, the powers of governship over white settlers in New Zealand.  Maori retained the same sovereign rights that were declared in He Whakaputanga.  While this claim is being taken by the hapu of Ngapuhi, its implications will extend and cover all of Maoridom.  It is generally accepted that He Whakaputanga was an affirmation of an existing state – other iwi/hapu do not have a written document as such but they still exist in the same state.

EC: Is He Whakaputanga an exclusively Ngapuhi document?

JH: It is, and it is not.  The early contact between Maori and Pakeha predominately occured in the Northland region where Ngapuhi live, so it makes sense that the British sought to engage with the local Maori there – He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti are a consequence of this.  He Whakaputanga was prepared and signed by Ngapuhi chiefs (with two notable exceptions – one chief in the Waikato region and one in Hawkes Bay also signed).  The document itself, therefore, could be considered a Ngapuhi document – the point is, however, that the sentiment it expresses were those of Maori throughout New Zealand.

EC: How might the claim affect all Maori? Is there a chance, as I suspect there might be, that other iwi and hapu in NZ may regard the case as something of a bit of Ngapuhi separatism?

JH: At its core, He Whakaputanga declares to the world the authority of Maori over New Zealand.  It does not create this authority – Maori authority over New Zealand flows from time immemorial.  He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti are seen as important expressions of Maori rights, autonomy and authority and have almost universal acceptance amongst Maori.  A successful result for Ngapuhi will be welcomed by all Maori because it would amount to a recognition of the authority of Maori over all of New Zealand.

EC: You write that ‘It is generally accepted that He Whakaputanga was an affirmation of an existing state’, but you also write that ‘He Whakaputanga did not create a Maori state, or a Ngapuhi state’. Can you clear this up for me? It seems that this document offers solid proof of the ‘sovereign rights’ of a Maori polity (or polities affiliated). And if a historic, political community had sovereignty at one time in the past (like the Ngapuhi clearly did), and are lucky to possess a document which proves that these sovereign rights were recognised by the invaders (like the Ngapuhi now do), then shouldn’t we talk about the diplomacy of a legitimate Maori state with a claim to legitimate Maori rights? If it smells like a state, and looks like a state…

JH: Then it is a state.  The British recognised Maori as a sovereign people prior to the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840.  Every indication I have seen in the historical record is that the British considered that Maori were/are a legitimate state with legitimate rights (albeit a less ‘civilised’ state then the British).  Te Tiriti o Waitangi itself was between Queen Victoria and the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand (or, the chiefs of the hapu (tribes) of New Zealand acting in confederation).

EC: I guess what I find surprising is the divorce we sometimes make between state and sovereignty.

JH: Especially when we are talking 1800s society.  Even in Europe notions of ‘statehood’ were not clearly defined.  It was not until the rise of positivism in the late 19th century that the concept of a nation state as it know it today started to form.

EC: So the sooner we identify and weed out (de-codify?) all of the hidden Eurocentrism(s) embodied in legal-political concepts like ‘state’ and ‘sovereignty’ – in the courtroom and in the history books – I say, the better.

Getting back to the Ngapuhi case: It is well known that the Tiriti o Waitangi was crucially and regularly misinterpreted by lawyers and the settler state from the latter-nineteenth century right up to quite recently. Just to clarify: in law, relating specifically to the Ngapuhi, all the Treaty should have done was make the key amendment to their mandate of kawanatanga (i.e. the definitive removal of Pakeha subjects from their imperium). But this is not what happened in reality, was it? Can you summarise for me what the Tiriti o Waitangi, and subsequent (mis)interpretations, have actually done to Ngapuhi stateliness and sovereignty?

JH: You are correct, that is not what happened.  The key to answering your question is to understanding that Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Treaty of Waitangi are two separate documents.  Te Tiriti is a Maori text, signed by Maori and informed by comments made by representatives of the British Crown at Waitangi and elsewhere when Te Tiriti was signed.  The Treaty is the English language text that Te Tiriti was supposed to have been translated from.  However, The Treaty clearly stated that Maori ceded their sovereignty to the British – and it was under this misinterpretation of Te Tiriti that the British acted.  Maori action post-1840 demonstrate that they did not intend to cede sovereignty, yet the British acted as if they had acquired it.  In the end, the sheer weight of British settlers served to reinforce the imposition of British ‘sovereignty’.  Because of this, Maori (and this applies equally to Ngapuhi as every other hapu and iwi in New Zealand) lost our land and our ability to exercise our autonomy and authority over our people and our territory.

None of this, however, has done anything to destroy the Ngapuhi state or Ngapuhi sovereignty.  Despite the misinterpretations, and the continued assertion of Her Majesty’s Government that they (or She) are Sovereign, Ngapuhi continue to assert their sovereign rights.  In a strict Westminster legal analysis Ngapuhi are no longer sovereign – but there is more than one legal system operating in New Zealand.  Maori tikanga (law) will continue to exist as long as Maori exist and are part of this land.

EC: Then I guess the heart of the problem is the presence of co-existent (and unequal) sovereignties in the settler polity; or, more specifically, the trajectory of each in their voyage from the moment of contact towards present-day New Zealand society. Which brings me to my final question/comment. As with all Commonwealth native/aboriginal title claims, I am struck by the reference to Crown authority. Settler sovereignty, according to the courts, starts with the activity of Crown representatives: whether in Treaty, in conquest, or in total ignorance, it is the Crown who starts the contest, it is the Crown who makes sovereignty a zero-sum thing, and Indigenous sovereignty is changed forevermore. But surely the Crown is one player in this; the settler polity another altogether. And, historically (though here I generalise), as the sovereignty of the settler polity expands and becomes more formidable (and more destructive of indigenous sovereignty), the Crown gradually loses much of its authority over the organic politics and legal culture of settler society. I guess I am just surprised about the difference between law and history in this matter. It is not really the content of the Tiriti o Waitangi and the He Whakaputanga (and, potentially, countless other documents signed off by British administrators) that matter in the history of Maori rights so much as it is the fatal misreading and institutionalisation of these by the settler state; and yet, in law, in the jurisprudence of Maori rights, which follows a selective paper trail and becomes handcuffed into indicting (or supporting) only those sovereign entities that are cognisable (by precedents of legal interaction), it is so very, very different.

JH: Correct.  All the evidence indicates that the British Crown play only a minor role in the history of New Zealand.  The settlers very quickly took over and they were only interested in one thing – land.


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