The PM’s Waitangi challenge: delivering enough transformation to ensure the Maori Party is not re-energised

Even though the  general election is  seven  months distant, this  may be a    week   which  offers  a  pointer  to  the mood   in a  critical  element in Labour’s support base.

The cameras  will be   focused  on   PM  Jacinda Ardern   and daughter  Neve  at  Waitangi Day celebrations.  But  will  the message her government is  delivering – transformational  change   for Maori – ring true  with  her  audiences?

Two years  ago  she  said at  Waitangi  she wanted to  be held to  account   each  year for the performance of her  government.

A  year  ago  she talked of  how  her government   would reduce  unemployment, strengthen  education,  and eliminate   inequality between  Maori and  Pakeha.

And this  week  there  has been  a  series  of announcements  involving  millions of   dollars  for  projects  in  Northland. 

At  the  same  time   speculation  that  the  government   has  a  proposal  in the works  on the  Ihumatao  land  dispute  underlines again  how  Labour   ministers  think   any  issue    involving  Maori  can be  resolved  by  another   dollop  of  government  money.

The  Maori   Labour  caucus  may cheer  as  taxpayers  are  called  on   to  fund  these moves  but  there  is  a very  different  reaction in other elements  of  NZ  society, particularly  those  who identify   as  working class.

The  divisions  in   NZ  society   are  accentuated   by    the  uglier  aspects  of    gang  culture,  especially where it  clashes  with  the placid  lifestyle of suburban  NZ.

The  risk  for  Labour  is that  it  appears  soft  on   law and  order,  as  it  seeks  to overcome    the  disproportionate  imbalance  in the  prison  population  between  Maori  and Pakeha.

Compounding  racial  tensions  has been the  performance  of  Oranga  Tamariki staff,  accused of  snatching  Maori babies  from  their   mothers,  and labeled  “racists”.

Don’t  expect  the  PM  to  be  elucidating  fresh   government  policy  on issues   like this  in her  Waitangi   pronouncements.

The  question  some  commentators  are asking is whether the  Ardern  government  perceives that   what  might  satisfy   Labour’s  Maori caucus  does not  necessarily  meet what  other  Maori  leaders  are demanding.

For  example a group of prominent  Maori  women  led by Dame  Tariana Turia  recently   charged the  Ardern  government with trying  to diminish the  Whanau   Ora programme  into  one delivered  not by  Maori, but  by the Wellington  bureaucracy. This, they alleged,  had meant $20m  for Maori well-being  had been swallowed  by the  state.

This  is  a fundamental  problem  for  any  government.  On the  one hand  it  must meet  its own standards  in disbursing public money,  but at the  same time  Maori leaders  are  demanding tino rangatiratanga  to be  expressed in social  policy.

Expect  Ardern   to  glide   gracefully    past    such  issues.  There is  no  way  she  wants to  give    the  Maori  Party  the  oxygen it needs  for a political resurgence.


2 thoughts on “The PM’s Waitangi challenge: delivering enough transformation to ensure the Maori Party is not re-energised

  1. Why is Neve taken to this event? I believe it is to stop any form of protest against our esteemed PM. After all, most are unlikely to want to upset a toddler by abusing her mother.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The PM has **already** “delivered transformation” for Maori, albeit negative.

    She axed the **charter schools**, and the students in them who were making the greatest gains were Maori and Pasifika students.

    So, when everyone sees her waffling on at Waitangi this year, I hope they remember that. She is full of hot air and nothing else.

    Liked by 2 people

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