GRAHAM ADAMS:  Labour’s disarray is music to National’s ears

Meka Whaitiri’s defection to Te Pāti Māori is a watershed.

  • Graham Adams writes –

Political punditry is always fraught with the risk of being quickly undone by events. You have to feel for NZ Herald senior writer Simon Wilson who, in the first of the newspaper’s election year debates on May 1, emphatically asserted — twice — that Labour was “united”. He scoffed at Barry Soper’s comment that there were similarities between Hipkins’ government and the last year of the Lange-Douglas government when it was “falling apart”. “That’s just nonsense!” Wilson said.

When Soper pointed out that Labour had “just lost a Prime Minister”, Wilson replied: “They’re stronger than ever before!”

Who could have guessed that the very next day a ministerial wheel would fall off Labour’s wagon? On May 2, news broke that Meka Whaitiri was defecting to Te Pāti Māori.

The full implications of her shift to another party are quickly becoming apparent. Most obviously, it has made it clear the Labour government is hardly stable given that Chris Hipkins has been obliged to yet again reshuffle his ministerial line-up, this time to fill the gaps Whaitiri had left. It was just four weeks ago he undertook a similar exercise after Stuart Nash was relieved of his portfolios for leaking confidential Cabinet information to two party donors. Continue reading “GRAHAM ADAMS:  Labour’s disarray is music to National’s ears”

CHRIS TROTTER:  Te Pāti Māori’s uncompromising threat to the status quo

  • Chris Trotter writes –

The Crown is a fickle friend. Any political movement deemed to be colourful but inconsequential is generally permitted to go about its business unmolested. The Crown’s media, RNZ and TVNZ, may even “celebrate” its existence (presumably as proof of Democracy’s broad-minded acceptance of diversity).

Should the movement’s leader(s) demonstrate a newsworthy eccentricity, then they may even find themselves transformed into political celebrities. The moment a political movement makes the transition from inconsequentiality to significance, however, then all bets are off – especially if that significance is born of a decisive rise in its parliamentary representation.

Te Pāti Māori (TPM) is currently on the cusp of making that crucial transition from political novelty to political threat. The decision of the former MP for Waiariki, Labour’s Tamati Coffey, to step away from his parliamentary career at the end of the current term will be welcome news to TPM’s male co-leader, Rawiri Waititi, who took the seat from Coffey in 2020. There is a good chance, now, for Waititi to turn the Māori seat of Waiariki into TPM’s anchor electorate.

Continue reading “CHRIS TROTTER:  Te Pāti Māori’s uncompromising threat to the status quo”

Genetic strength, insults against Māori MPs (on one side of the House) and an analysis of the critical doctrinal divide

The Māori Party, without any apparent blush, makes a provocative claim about the genetic superiority of Māori on its website.

The claim is to be found in a section which sets out the party’s sports policy:

 “It is a known fact that Māori genetic makeup is stronger than others.”

This genetic strength perhaps attenuates when Māori join the ACT or National Parties and express opinions that challenge the Government line on what must be done in partnership with Maori because of obligations supposedly demanded by the Treaty of Waitangi.

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson earlier this year said ACT leader David Seymour, of Ngāpuhi descent, claimed to be Māori – but “he’s just a useless Māori, that’s all”.

“Absolutely [he’s] Māori but maybe just the most useless advocate for Māori we’ve ever seen.”

He subsequently told Morning Report he did not regret his comment because Seymour was a “dangerous politician” whose views must be challenged. Continue reading “Genetic strength, insults against Māori MPs (on one side of the House) and an analysis of the critical doctrinal divide”

The polls look promising for the Nats and ACT – but it’s too soon for them to be counting on an election victory

The latest political  polling   shows  the  centre-right parties  pulling  ahead of  the centre-left—but  it  may  be  too soon  for  the  leaders  of  the National and ACT parties to  be thinking they  will  be  forming  the next  government.  The mood  of  the  country has  seldom been  as  dark, chastened  as  it has been  by Covid, the cost-of-living crisis, and  a string of  Rugby test disasters, which  not  even  the golden  glow  from the Commonwealth Games  could  erase.

Some  commentators  have  seized  on  the  One  News  Kantar poll to suggest that the  parties of the  right would be  able  to  form  a  government for  the  first  time without  the Maori  Party,

The poll results nevertheless  contained  a  warning  signal for  both  National  and  ACT — the  former  because   it  was  down  two points  from the  previous poll, and ACT  because it  may  have  experienced a  one-off bounce in its  four-point  rise.

National   currently has  its  own  troubles, notably  with its  new  Tauranga  MP Sam Uffindell becoming the centre of a controversy about how much his electorate should have been apprised of something he did as a 16-year-old schoolboy.  Besides,  the Nats have yet  to  find  the  threads  which  they could  stitch into  a  coherent policy with  broad  appeal. Continue reading “The polls look promising for the Nats and ACT – but it’s too soon for them to be counting on an election victory”

PM traces shift in our independent foreign policy under Labour – and rails against ‘morally bankrupt’ United Nations

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, enjoying her  global celebrity  status  in Australia,  has  also succeeded in  clawing back  her  poll  ratings  in New Zealand.   According  to the  Roy Morgan  poll,  Labour has  risen  a  couple  of  points  to   33.5%  while  National has  edged  back a  point  to 39% since  May.

On the  Roy Morgan  sampling, the  Maori Party  would  hold  the balance  of  power.   Given the  apparent distaste of that party’s two members  in Parliament  for  parties  of the  Right, this could ensure  Labour  has  another term .

Ardern brushed off  a  question on the  ABC  about her  global celebrity  status, saying  her  total  focus  was  at  home.

“That  is  what matters  to  me”.

Nevertheless  her major  speech  in  Australia, to  the  Lowy Institute,  centred on  NZ’s  foreign  policy  and  traced  how  far   NZ  has moved since  Labour  took office in 2017. Continue reading “PM traces shift in our independent foreign policy under Labour – and rails against ‘morally bankrupt’ United Nations”

The Nats need to diversify – and if they don’t know what this requires, the Greens and Maori Party can show them the way

Now that the Nats might muster enough votes to forge a right-leaning coalition partnership and oust  the Ardern government at the next election, the commentariate has become agitated on the “diversity” issue. 

Issue?  Newsroom’s Joe Moir calls it a “crisis”.  

National’s just had its first opportunity to deal with its diversity crisis and its response was four white men contesting the Tauranga by-election

There are now more Christophers than there are Māori in the National Party.

This isn’t a new problem for National but Simon Bridges’ exit from politics this week only makes it even more profound.

Moir reports that Bridges’ departure means there are now just two Māori left in the caucus – Shane Reti and Harete Hipango – and the only other ethnic representation amongst National MPs is Korean-born Melissa Lee.

The headline sums this up as Luxon’s big white problem.

Diversity is more vital than ability in the media mindset, it seems, although concerns about an obvious lack of ethnic diversity in the ranks of the Maori Party is unlikely to result in headlines drawing attention to Rawiri Waititi’s big brown problem. 

The Nats shortcomings in the diversity department have been reflected in a raft of media reports over the past year or so.  Among them –

12 October 2020 

How well do political parties represent NZ’s ethnically diverse communities?

The National Party came under fire this year for its lack of diversity after it reshuffled its caucus several times following two leadership changes.

But one of its candidates Christopher Luxon, who is the former Air New Zealand CEO now running in Botany, has taken a bolder stance on the issue in contrast to what his party’s leaders have said this year….

Luxon is standing in the most diverse electorate in the country and he said while the party has a diverse range of experience and skill, diversity of representation matters a lot as well.

May 2 2021

National MPs admit ‘we’ve got some work to do’ on diversity

National MPs admit the party’s “got some work to do” in terms of increasing diversity.

It comes after a review revealed on Wednesday highlighted the need for National to commit to diversity, with a stronger focus on Māori.

The election review panel recommended making Māori a priority area, and suggested they “develop a diversity plan” and “embed diversity across the party’s membership, caucus, candidate and Board”. 

December 6 2021

National ‘has work to do’ on diversity after caucus announced

The National Party has “got work to do” to better its ethnic diversity and gender representation, new leader Christopher Luxon says, following his caucus reshuffle.

Only two Māori and four women now sit on its 12-member front bench, while not a single MP in the 33-member caucus is of Pasifika descent. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who Luxon will face for the first time as National’s new leader on Tuesday, leads one of the most diverse caucuses in history.

But concerns about ethnic diversity don’t necessarily amount to concerns about all ethnicities.  When Simon Bridges announced his retirement, he was asked about how he’d served Māori.

He quite rightly said he was MP for Tauranga, not a Māori seat, and he aimed to offer the best service to whoever walked in as a constituent. But he was proud to have been the first Māori leader of one of the two major parties.

Bridges was elected the party’s first Maori leader in 2018. His deputy leader was Paula Bennett who also is Maori.

The Labour Party has never elected a Maori leader.

But the headline on an article by political analyst Bryce Edwards raised a curious question.  

Political Roundup: Who gets to decide if Simon Bridges is ‘Maori enough?’

Edwards wrote:

There are legitimate and complex questions about the significance of this achievement, including how important it is for Maori voters and for advancing Maori interests, and what impact it might have on politics.

Unfortunately, much of the questioning so far has been along the lines of: How Maori is Simon Bridges really? Is he Maori enough?

I raised this on TVNZ’s Breakfast today, saying “There’s been a lot of people suggesting he’s not really a ‘proper’ Maori, questioning his Maori-ness and I think that won’t go down well with the public and I think it will backfire because it’s becoming increasingly unacceptable really to question whether someone is Maori or not”.

Fair to say, Edwards further noted that most of the questioning of Bridge’s Maori “authenticity” had taken place on social media, especially by some on the political left.  

Paula Bennett was challenged three years ago for not being Maori enough, too.

National’s Paula Bennett says comments calling into question her Māori heritage were ‘racist’

The contretemps in her case was instigated by Labour’s Willie Jackson.

Yesterday, in a speech during Parliament’s general debate, Minister of Employment and Associate Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson took aim at the Māori members of the National Party and called them “useless”.

He outlined a few Māori who he said were “the good ones” but said that “the rest were useless”.

“Paula Bennett – well, she doesn’t know if she’s a Māori. Some days she does and some days she doesn’t. Dan Bidois – he needs to go back to Italy. And Jo Hayes – Jo wouldn’t have a clue,” Jackson said.

Bennett said those remarks “without a doubt” were racist.

“It’s kind of like saying if we’re not like you, and fully entrenched and able to speak the language, then in your mind, we’re lesser Māori – I don’t think that’s necessary,” she told media after question time.

“It’s Parliament, it can get pretty robust. But I think to be calling in if you like, whether we’re Māori enough is just really unnecessary.”

While the National Party grapples with its diversity challenge, the Greens have signalled what diversity means to them  by changing their constitution to abandon its requirement for one male co-leader and one woman co-leader.  The requirement now is one woman and one person of any gender, plus a requirement that one must be Māori.

Co-leader Marama Davidson this afternoon said they were pleased with the changes which focused on a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“And proud that the party, the members, have voted in support of constitutional change which upholds Te Tiriti, which centres a framework on Te Tiriti, and far more inclusive representation including that leadership.

“The whole point though is about better representation, more inclusive expectations for leadership and upholding Te Tiriti.”

University of Auckland public policy lecturer Lara Greaves (Ngāti Kuri, Ngāpuhi) told Midday Report the move seemed like a logical next step for the party.

“This kind of just aligns with their values and the direction the party’s heading in.”

“I can see that this is a really important symbolic step for them to go in that direction of trying to pull more of the Māori vote … I can see they’re more moving in that ‘yes we are pro-Te Tiriti, we’re pro-co-governance, we’re pro-Māori’ direction.”

Greaves said it could also pave the way for a change in leadership, with suggestions someone like Chloe Swarbrick could be better in the role, and there had been disquiet about co-leader James Shaw not aligning so well with some of the party’s kaupapa.

Kiwiblog headed its report  

Green Party says it was racist to have Jeanette and Rod as leaders

David Farrar referenced a Herald report on the constitutional change:

The two co-leaders now need to constitute one woman, and one person of any gender (providing leadership pathways for non-binary and intersex). One co-leader also needs to be Māori.

He commented:

So under this new rule, you would never have had Jeanette Fitzsimons and Rod Donald as co-leaders.

It also means that Chloe Swarbrick can’t replace Marama Davidson as a co-leader as Chloe is not Maori. She could replace James though.

Farrar challenged a claim that politics had never provided a “level playing field” for Māori and Pasifika peoples, people of different genders, rainbow communities, and women.


21% of Parliament is Maori – much higher than their share of the adult population.

8% of Parliament is Pasifika – slightly higher than their 7% share of the adult population.

49% of Parliament is female, marginally below their 50.4% share of the adult population.

11% of Parliament is LGBT – much higher than their share of the adult population.

But for now, let’s wait and see what the Tauranga electorate makes of National’s candidate, team and programme.  


ACT makes commitment to a referendum on co-governance – but maybe it was too late for the capital’s morning newspaper

The Stuff team didn’t bring out the big headline type to report on a party political commitment of profound importance to anyone who cares about how and by whom we are governed. That – of course – should be everyone.

Stuff didn’t mention this commitment in the Dominion-Post (flagship of the Stuff fleet) – at least, Point of Order failed to find an account of it in our copy this morning, but maybe it was tucked away somewhere between some ads.  Or maybe the press release around 7:09 last night was too late.

An online Stuff report did report it but its headline brought the Maori Party’s highly predictable response into the reckoning:  New ACT Party policy branded ‘divisive’ and ‘bigoted’ by Māori Party

The online report opened:

A new ACT Party policy calling for “a referendum on co-governance” has been branded “divisive”, “bigoted” and “appealing to racists” by the Māori Party.

Thus the emphasis was heaped not on ACT’s announcement of a commitment to strengthening our democracy and to enabling voters to determine how we are governed.

Stuff opted, rather, to highlight the hostile position of a party whose leadership does not enthusiastically champion democracy.  

According to Newshub, Maori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi has declared:

“We need to start looking at how Maori can participate more equally and equitably in that particular space in a tiriti-centric Aotearoa. Not in a democracy, because… democracy is majority rules, and indigenous peoples – especially Maori at 16 percent of the population in this country – will lose out, and we’ll sit in second-place again.” Continue reading “ACT makes commitment to a referendum on co-governance – but maybe it was too late for the capital’s morning newspaper”

Curia political poll is grim news for the Nats – but its measure of enthusiasm for “Aotearoa” will be vexing for Maori Party, too

The New Zealand Herald was not alone in reporting on the discomforting results for National in the latest Curia opinion poll and the petition mounted by Maori Party leaders to have the name of this country officially changed to Aotearoa.

The first matter was headlined The National Party’s polling company has the party crashing to within six points of Act

The writer of the report beneath this headline seemed to delight in noting who had conducted this poll.  

The National Party’s historic pollster has the party’s support crashing to historic lows, while Act is on the verge of overtaking it.

A Curia poll, conducted for the Taxpayer’s Union, has National on just 21.2 per cent, with Act close behind on 14.9 per cent.

The result is only a whisker above National’s worst-ever election result, 20.93 per cent in 2002. It is the closest National and Act have ever been in the poll.

Labour is at 45.9 per cent with the Greens on 9.6. Te Paati Māori is on 1.2 per cent. Continue reading “Curia political poll is grim news for the Nats – but its measure of enthusiasm for “Aotearoa” will be vexing for Maori Party, too”

Police and their Minister duck Maori Party question which drew attention to something troubling about children and the cops

Yes, we are aware of the Maori Party’s aversion to Parliamentary questions from Opposition MPs which aim to flush the PM and her government into the open on their programme of incorporating the “Treaty partnership” in their reform programme.

The Maori Party insists those questions are racist and has pressed the Speaker to rule them out of order.

It has also challenged the Speaker and Parliamentary protocol through expressions of dissent which culminated in one co-leader being ordered from the House for performing a defiant haka and the other walking out to show her support for her colleague.

This has won headlines around the world.

Not bad for an outfit which won 1.2 per cent of the party vote at the 2020 general election.

Māori Party co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi have also won publicity this week by declaring their intent to fight the Government’s proposed laws targeting gangs. Continue reading “Police and their Minister duck Maori Party question which drew attention to something troubling about children and the cops”

Free speech in Parliament challenged: Maori Party MPs press the Speaker to bar questions they regard as “racist”

The Speaker was reprimanded by the PM yesterday, in the aftermath of the furore generated when he accused a former parliamentary staffer – to whom he had previously apologised for claiming he was a rapist – of sexual assault.

Then he was chided by Maori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer for failing to stop “racist” questions being asked in Parliament.

Other than Hansard, the only account of this attempt to curb MPs’ right to speak freely in Parliament was a Newshub report headed Rawiri Waititi lashes out at ‘Māori bashing’ in Parliament as Jacinda Ardern challenges Judith Collins to say ‘partnership’

But to whom – we wonder – is the Speaker accountable?

To Members of Parliament, we would have thought, because they vote to elect the Speaker at the start of each new Parliament (after every general election).

 This is the first task of every new Parliament once members have been sworn in.
Candidates are nominated by another member and, after the election vote, the Speaker-Elect visits the Governor-General to be confirmed in office.
Continue reading “Free speech in Parliament challenged: Maori Party MPs press the Speaker to bar questions they regard as “racist””