Ron’s a top Mark – and Maori

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

When you look back on the po­lit­i­cal scene over the past 10 years or so, you don’t come to the con­clu­sion that New Zealand First is lead­ing the strug­gle for Maori rights.

In fact, Win­ston Peters won much of his sup­port from the blue rinse bri­gade and be­yond by pre­sent­ing him­self as a bold, brave op­po­nent of Maori rights cam­paign­ers.

He knew, just as Don Brash quickly came to un­der­stand, that there can be a huge elec­toral ad­van­tage in putting the boot into Maori when many Pakeha vot­ers sus­pect – for no good rea­son at all – that Maori lead a priv­i­leged life.

So you don’t turn to Win­ston’s New Zealand First team ex­pect­ing to see an MP who’s proud and un­flinch­ing about his Maori her­itage. But that’s what you get with Ron Mark.

He’s a long way short of de­serv­ing the la­bel of Mr Tino Ran­gati­ratanga.

You don’t hear him push­ing Maori rights as keenly as Tar­i­ana Turia or Hone Harawira do in the Maori Party, or even as oth­ers such as Me­tiria Turei in the Greens and Ge­orgina te Heuheu among the Nats.

Ron has been more in­clined to catch our at­ten­tion when he’s been mak­ing a fuss about the need for a harder line on law and or­der.

And, al­though his per­sis­tence on that kau­papa has been un­der­stand­able, he’s been in­clined to go over the top with his idea of jail­ing crim­i­nal kids as young as 12, out­law­ing gangs and us­ing ter­ror­ism laws where they prob­a­bly have no place.

But Ron isn’t the sort of bloke to hide his Maori iden­tity, even though it wasn’t a part of his early life.

And that was a tough life.

He was a ward of the state and might eas­ily have gone off the rails. A brother, in fact, did just that and be­came a prom­i­nent gang mem­ber.

Th­ese days, though, Ron is a solid, re­li­able par­lia­men­tar­ian. Confi and ex­pe­ri­enced too. Loyal to Win­ston, but comfortable on Maori is­sues, ei­ther as an ad­vo­cate or as a critic.

And one con­se­quence of his record is that he might very well nail the Rimu­taka seat for New Zealand First. If so, that would be a sig­nif­i­cant step in New Zealand pol­i­tics.

Vot­ers in gen­eral seats have never shown much in­ter­est in Maori candidates un­less they down­play their Maori her­itage.

But don’t be sur­prised if the Rimu­taka vot­ers opt for Ron.

Lis­ten to Wil­lie Jack­son on Mon­day at 10am on Ra­dio Waatea 603AM

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