[lg policy] New Zealand:

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 24 15:46:23 UTC 2011

Maori affairs policies: Support hinges on Whanau Ora
By Yvonne Tahana
5:30 AM Thursday Nov 24, 2011

National and the Maori Party look to be singing from the same song
sheet when it comes to significant Maori policies. However, some
academics believe the Maori Party has more to lose as both parties
defend the situation as mutually beneficial. Whanau Ora's
implementation remains the cornerstone of both parties' Maori policy,
and language sector revision plans also feature.

National's Maori affairs spokeswoman, Hekia Parata, would not say what
needs to change in the latter but papers from National's three-year
partner proposes the adoption of Sir Tamati Reedy's Te Paepae Motuhake
research recommendations, which advocate a major shake-up of the
sector, including scrapping the Maori Language Commission.

Maori Party co-leader Dr Pita Sharples said he was delighted to
discover National's policy on Whanau Ora mirrored his own party's
election material. "I think it's a very good thing. We're in there to
get wins for our people and we have to fight a lot of their policy
because our philosophical base is quite different."

It makes the party "fair game", for criticism that the party is
National "lite", Dr Sharples said. But it is a cost he is willing to
bear to be close to government power. "I look at it as a win in terms
of our influence on the National Party." Victoria University political
scientist Dr Maria Bargh said if the Maori Party did work with
National again it had to drive a much harder bargain by ticking off
more of its wishlist in any agreement.

She mooted a radical idea for the party - to sit in opposition - which
she believed needed to strengthen its brand after Hone Harawira's
departure and Mana's arrival.

"In terms of their survivability I don't think it will actually hurt
them. I know they're running the line that we're at the cabinet table,
etc, but if you look at the history of small parties that go into
government, they get wiped out. [Opposition] would allow them to
strengthen over the next term," Dr Bargh said.

Ms Parata said her party was not along for the free ride by allowing
the Maori Party to essentially develop all Maori policy.

"I think that's the nature of coalition. You can be criticised by
other parts of the political spectrum for being too close and then
criticised for not being close enough. The whole benefit of a
coalition relationship is to get the value of good ideas and get them
funded and implemented."

Academic Rawiri Taonui praised the Green Party, which had been
successful in pushing three big-picture policies: clean rivers,
"greening" the economy and lifting children out of poverty.

During candidate debates on Maori Television's Native Affairs, Green
Party members have hardly mentioned their specific Maori policies but
have pushed its broader position.

"The Greens have done a good job on unemployment and poverty by
linking those to environmental issues. They're saying 'hey we're
cleaning up rivers but we'll also get more jobs' and I think that's
resonating with younger Maori voters."

Although Labour has a more extensive list of election promises it
lacks the same coherence, he said."It lacks coherence because it looks
like it's been thought up on the spot. The other thing is people will
have in the back of their minds is John Key's criticism that all
Labour is doing is talking about spending money.

"Everyone knows that poverty is a major issue in this election but
also there is a limited budget. Labour is not answering both
questions: they're saying (a), 'we're going to do all these things'
but (b), they're not very convincing about where the money is going to
come from."

Mana is alone on its proposals in the Treaty sector - all three
outlined would have far-reaching impacts and are unlikely to be
politically workable for either National or Labour.
By Yvonne Tahana | Email Yvonne


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