Don’t bet against Whata

Central Leader - - News -

You’re not alone if you’ve seen signs the Maori Party is not the Rolls Royce op­er­a­tion many of us would like it to be.

There’s been too much sput­ter­ing, stalling and back­fir­ing to con­vince us this is a high-tech po­lit­i­cal ma­chine.

First there was Tar­i­ana Turia chang­ing her mind about quit­ting pol­i­tics. Then Pita Sharples got in a tan­gle over emis­sions, got nowhere on Maori rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Auck­land’s su­percity, and be­came the vic­tim of dirty work by Na­tional’s back­room boys when Maori TV was set to get the Rugby World Cup rights.

Then at the an­nual meet­ing we had pres­i­dent Whata Wini­ata be­ing per­suaded that at 74 he should post­pone his re­tire­ment.

None of those ma­noeu­vres sug­gest the party is in any trou­ble. They’re more a re­minder of what great strides it’s quickly made.

The ex­pe­ri­ences re­mind us the Maori voice in Par­lia­ment is still small and that Nats pay at­ten­tion only when they have to – which is not of­ten, es­pe­cially when they see there are only five Maori MPs.

But that won’t al­ways be so and that’s why it was en­cour­ag­ing to see Whata stay at the helm.

Whata’s lead­er­ship has been a ma­jor rea­son why the Maori Party has been so suc­cess­ful.

He has been la­belled a ‘dreamer’ for want­ing too much in­stead of com­pro­mis­ing.

But his style of lead­er­ship – a com­bi­na­tion of calm­ness, con­fi­dence and great strength – has at­tracted le­gions of sup­port­ers over the years.

He’s done that in the Angli­can Church, in ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, where he es­tab­lished the first Maori Uni­ver­sity Te Wananga o Raukawa at Otaki, and as part of the team that went to court in sup­port of Maori lan­guage he’s one of the main rea­sons we have Maori TV.

Now he’s talk­ing of more Maori on the Maori roll, and the party winning all the Maori seats and list seats as well.

He’s sug­gest­ing that could all lead to there be­ing 18 Maori Party MPs af­ter the 2017 elec­tion and their be­ing a po­lit­i­cal force that can’t be ig­nored. Pie in the sky? Maybe. But you wouldn’t bet against Whata.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.