For several elections now I have been publicly stating my voting intentions. As a political commentator I believe that it is important that my views are clearly stated as these do inform my commentary. Regular readers will know that I am a member of the Māori Party and I have also provided a financial donation this year to both the Māori Party and the Mana Party. However, that does not necessarily guarantee that I will always vote for the Māori Party. In today’s one-off post I set out my prior voting record, my voting intentions for this years election, and an analysis of how I see the Māori Electorates voting on Saturday.
The first election I was eligible to vote in was 2005. I had just turned 20, was studying at the University of Auckland, and the confiscation of the Foreshore and Seabed was fresh in the mind. I grew up in one of the most conservative electorates in the country. Taranaki, later Taranaki-King Country. Jim Bolger was my MP. He had friends on our road and we would occasionally see the Prime Ministerial motorcade whip down our normally serene country road. I met Jenny Shipley in 1998 when she was canvassing for Shane Arden in the 1998 By-Election. I was sure that blue ran through my veins. By 2005, my natural instinct was to vote National. Labour was out. After the foreshore and seabed controversy I vowed to never vote for Labour. I could never give my support to a party that would betray the people they were meant to stand up for. But 2005 was also the Don Brash election. The race-baiting, Orewa, Iwi versus Kiwi election. I stayed home on election day. No one had earned my vote. It would not be the last time I stayed home on election day.
By 2008 I was even more consumed with hatred towards Labour. Added to their crimes in their 3rd term was the Urewera raids and the inhumane treatment of the people of Tuhoe. Don Brash was gone, the country was gripped by recession, and the GFC was starting to bite. I was part of the mood for change. I looked at National, but there was no clear plan to steer us clear of the financial mess we were in. I went further right. Yes, my first party vote was for ACT. Now, ACT in 2008 was a different party to the David Seymour vanity project that it is today. It was principled. It had a rigorous economic plan. It remained liberal on social issues. It received 3.5% of the vote.
Rodney Hide very quickly lost my support. Shuffled off to making a mess out of the Auckland Super City, their economic plans ignored by a conservative government focusing on incremental change. Now, for the first time, the Māori Party were gaining prominence. A foothold in the Māori electorates, a seat at the table, a start in ensuring more progressive policies for Māori. Whānau ora for starters. I was a convert. In 2011 I was still on the general role and so it was one vote for Nikki Kaye in Auckland Central and one vote for the Māori Party.
I would sit out the 2014 election. I had become disillusioned with the Māori Party. The response to the asset sales policy was weak, and I have always been critical of their lack of rigorous economic policy. More crucially, I was not in a good personal space. For several months in 2014 I wanted to hide away from the world and that is what I did. I spent election day with a close friend in Wellington. Instead of watching the results come in, we went to a movie.
Because of a quirk in UK election law, as a resident in the UK I was eligible to vote in both the Brexit decision and the 2017 UK election. I was not registered in time to vote remain, but was able to cast my vote in this years general election. While I am in a solidly Labour electorate under a FPP environment I voted for UK Labour. At least the NZ version of the Conservatives have some compassionate streak.
My Voting Intentions
Which now brings us to 2017. I have gone back and forward on this all year. Labour are still out. They need to earn back my trust before I would consider voting for them. If I am being honest, I think that my conservative roots may mean I never truly would have backed them anyway. There are good signs though. Several amazing candidates I’ve worked with through Te Hunga Roia are likely to be elected. A more conciliatory tone towards Māori issues are being talked about. But it is too soon for me. My choice has come down to National or the Māori Party. On balance, I remain broadly supportive of the National Government. Our economy is performing well, unemployment continues to track downwards, and inequality has stayed fairly stagnant. They have done what you expect a conservative government to do. And, quite frankly, New Zealand has not seen the aspirational oppositional politics of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party that would mean that a vote for NZ Labour would result in much change.
What my decision has come down to is people. I have the upmost adoration and respect for both Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell. They are the exact type of people we want as MPs. Strong, passionate, and an advocate for kaupapa Māori politics. For these reasons, I am going to vote for the Māori Party this year. Having the Māori Party as the potential King or Queen maker is a much better position than having Winston Peters maintain the balance of power again.
The Māori Electorates
How will the Māori electorates vote? I have not been paying much attention to this election, the distance and time zones make that too difficult. So my highly uninformed reckons on how the Māori seats will fall are as follows.
Hone will regain Te Tai Tokelau (update: I wrote this before seeing the poll results which show Kelvin Davis well ahead); Tāmaki Makaurau looks tight, but I would expect Peeni Henare to retain his seat. Nanaia will win Hauraki-Waikato comfortably; as will Flavell in Waiariki. Marama Fox has put up a strong fight in Ikaora-Rāwhiti but it will not be enough to see off Meka Whaitiri who has been the strongest performing Labour Māori MP over the past term. Across to my home electorate of Te Tai Hauāuru where I believe that Howie Tamiti will win the seat back for the Māori Party, while Rino Tirikatene will retain Te Tai Tonga.