Keep­ing Maori seats

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

Imag­ine if Maori Party MP Hone Harawira stood for the gen­eral seat in Whangarei. What chance do you think he’d have?

Most Maori would prob­a­bly think he’d win given his na­tional pro­file and be­cause he’s one of the stars of the Maori Party.

His op­po­si­tion would come from Na­tional Party MP Phil Heat­ley, who de­spite be­ing in Par­lia­ment for nine years, has made lit­tle im­pres­sion on the na­tional scene and has the charisma of a brick!

So would Hone win? Not on your life! The re­al­ity is that Heat­ley would win hands down. But not be­cause he’s the bet­ter MP. Heat­ley would win be­cause most vot­ers are Pakeha and they are less in­clined to vote for some­one they per­ceive to be a stroppy Maori.

That doesn’t mean that Pakeha peo­ple wouldn’t vote for a Maori. They would if you put the right type of Maori in, ie, some­one who would de­nounce the treaty, call the Maori seats racist and sell us out.

Those strate­gies how­ever would never be adopted by Hone Harawira or the Maori Party candidates. So the seats pro­vide the se­cu­rity and op­por­tu­nity for them to be to­tally pro Maori. There­fore it should be no sur­prise that the Maori Party is so in­sis­tent on re­tain­ing them.

The ar­gu­ments for get­ting rid of the Maori seats might read well on pa­per, eg, ‘it’s time for an egal­i­tar­ian so­ci­ety’ and ‘all the votes – ap­prox­i­mately 220,000 on the Maori roll –would make a huge im­pact if trans­ferred to the gen­eral roll’.

But per­son­ally I couldn’t give a damn. Maori his­tor­i­cally have been be­trayed by Par­lia­ment and through the years gov­ern­ment has passed some dis­grace­ful laws to rid Maori of their rights; an ex­am­ple be­ing the Fore­shore and Seabed Act.

How­ever Maori may fi­nally have a chance to re­dress the bal­ance cour­tesy of the Maori seats and the Maori Party. The Maori Party is poised to be the King­maker for the next gov­ern­ment and could of­fer Maori their best chance ever of ex­er­cis­ing real power. If that hap­pens, the abo­li­tion of the Maori seats pol­icy will dis­ap­pear from all par­ties’ agen­das and New Zealan­ders will have to get their heads around hav­ing stroppy Maori de­cide on their next gov­ern­ment.

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