Friday, July 13, 2012
Maori Party in Abusive Relationship
It always amuses me when people refer to "the Maori" as if they are a homogenous group that act and think alike. The Maori Party were always going to have trouble representing the breadth of Maori interests and iwi aspirations, and when they went into coalition with National the pressure placed on those supporting the left and environmental concerns became intolerable. Even Hone Harawira, who is the political face of this breakaway element (Mana), does not truly represent this group as a social conservative.
The Maori Party has always claimed they can achieve more for Maori by sharing a bed with the National Party than by not sleeping with them. If I continued with this analogy I would have to say that the Maori Party have endured an abusive relationship with their coalition partner. National have benefited the most from the relationship, the majority of their policies have a negative impact on Maori (who make up the majority of New Zealand's poor and disadvantaged) and having the Maori Party support these policies has limited potential protest.
This relationship has cost National very little, most of what they have given up has been symbolic. It cost nothing to have the Rangatiratanga flag fly from the Auckland harbor bridge or to sign the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. While these symbols may mean a lot to Maori they mean little to John Key and the National Party, whose base lines are legal rather than moral or ethical. John Key's statement after the signing of the United Nation's declaration made this clear:
"I think it is important to understand that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is just that—it is a declaration. It is not a treaty, it is not a covenant, and one does not actually sign up to it. It is an expression of aspiration; it will have no impact on New Zealand law and no impact on the constitutional framework."
Key's response to the Waitangi Tribunal deliberations on Maori water rights just continues his dismissive attitude towards Maori interests. He knows that the Maori Party will continue to lie between his blue sheets because Whanau Ora was conceived between those sheets. Whanau Ora is the most important initiative to come out of the relationship and if the Maori Party were to seek a divorce then its future cannot be guaranteed, and it is already struggling. The past four years of lying back and thinking of Aotearoa as National has had its way will only be worth it if Whanau Ora survives childhood.