Kia ora and happy new year. After a long and relaxing holiday, I have picked up the electronic pen again and today bring you the first weekly political review focussing on Māori politics. Each edition will go live on Friday morning, and will cover the main political issues of the week, insights and blog articles on Māori politics by other Māori and non-Māori writers, and links to interesting korero on Māori and indigenous issues.
With the General Election only 11 months away, 2014 promises to be a fascinating year in Māori politics. By compiling a weekly review, I am aiming to bring together a wealth of information to inform Māori voters and to shed light on the many major questions waiting to be answered this year:
- Will we see the end of the National led government and, if so, what does this mean for Māori?
- Will Te Ureroa and Hone be successful in adding to their parliamentary caucuses or will Labour reclaim the remaining Māori electorates?
- Will the water rights issue continue to court controversy, or will an even bigger issue take centre stage?
- And, perhaps more cynically, which politician (Winston excepted) will be the first to play the race card in 2014?
This Week in review
As I am still in the final days of my holiday over here in London, this week will be a truncated review of the going-ons in Māori politics. One issue appears to have dominated all others, and that was the decision by the Speaker of the House, David Carter to review Parliamentary protocols regarding powhiri and “modernise” them. Modernisation in this context relates to the position of wahine during powhiri. The sacred, and specific, roles of tane and wahine in powhiri are often misunderstood by pākehā, and thus what they consider to be modernisation is often nothing more than cultural insensitivity.
Modernisation in this context is an inappropriate turn of phrase, and the Speaker should have known better than to frame his review in this way. Of course, it is appropriate for parliament to review it’s own protocols, including how powhiri are conducted in its own Whare Nui, so long as it does not presuppose that it has the right to criticise those hapū who do continue to have a strict delineation of tane and wahine roles during powhiri.
He aha tō whakaro? Should Parliament reconsider the role of wahine in powhiri conducted on their grounds? Or is this a simple case of cultural insensitivity?