Gordon Campbell on the Mana-Maori Party deal

If the self-interest involved wasn’t so blatant, the electorate deal between the Maori Party and Hone Harawira would be kind of poignant. It’s a bit like seeing the remaining members of Guns’n’Roses or the Eagles back on the road touring the nostalgia circuit… playing all the old hits of Maori unity and kaupapa Maori politics. Can the two surviving Maori Party MPs (one electorate, one list) credibly work together with the old firebrand who split up the group years ago, and still hope to rekindle some of that same old magic?

To get back on the political stage, Harawira will need to creatively re-define many of the social justice issues that drove him out of the Maori Party in the first place, and into the arms of Internet Mana – exactly at the same time as the Maori Party will be trying to trade on Harawira’s reputation in order to put some juice back into their own pact with National. It looks like being the Use Your Illusion tour of 2017, with a vengeance.

Basically, the deal means that the Maori Party will not campaign in Te Tai Tokerau, thus enabling a head-to-head contest between Harawira and the Labour incumbent, Kelvin Davis. In return, the Mana Party will not campaign in the other Maori seats, thereby giving the Maori Party a clear run at Labour. (In passing, this electorate deal emphasizes just how much Mana is, and always has been, the Hone Party.)

Arguably, if he is re-elected on the back of this deal, it means that Harawira would not only be dependent on the Maori Party for his victory, but for his ongoing survival. In practice, it would be interesting to see how long that leash would be. Could Harawira really represent his electorate fearlessly without attacking the policies of the very government with whom his parliamentary sponsors are tucked up in bed? Clearly, it may be hard to maintain the façade of “ Maori unity.”

Obviously, early days yet on whether Harawira’s latest deal with the devil will be any more successful than the one he forged with Kim Dotcom. On the brute numbers from 2014, the deal’s likelihood of success is strongest in Te Tai Tokerau, where Labour’s Davis has a slim majority of 743 over Harawira, and where the Maori Party recorded 2,579 votes. In Tamaki-Makaurau, Labour’s majority is only 1,462 – and Mana won 2,624 votes there in 2014, and those votes will now be up for grabs.

In Te Tai Hauauru, things are also very close. The Labour majority is 1,554, and Mana won 1,940 votes there in 2014. The Green Party however won 3004 votes in Te Tai Hauauru in 2014, and if we’re talking about tactical voting, Labour could expect some Green voters may come to its aid in the context of a 2017 campaign where electing a centre-left government may induce voters to transcend party allegiances. Back in Tamaki-Makaurau for instance, the Greens’MP Marama Davidson won 3136 votes last time around, and some of those votes could also be deployed tactically to benefit Labour in the electorate this time around.

On the 2014 numbers, Labour has little to fear from the Mana/Maori collaboration in Hauraki-Waikato, where Labour’s majority (7695) was more than double Mana’s entire vote. Similarly in Te Tai Tonga, Labour’s majority of 3554 gives it a comfortable cushion against the 1,996 Mana vote last time around. Waiariki ended up being safe for Maori party leader Te Ururoa Flavell in 2014 despite the strong challenge by Mana’s Annette Sykes, who –significantly – appears to have endorsed the Mana/Maori Party electorate alliance.

Mrs Sykes could not be reached for comment but previously told the Rotorua Daily Post she was positive about the relationship between Mana and the Maori Party as they were answering a call from elders and shared a common goal to remove Labour from Maori seats.

So, there are potential gains in some areas for the Maori Party, and Hone Harawira has an obvious personal gain in the offing. What will be decisive is whether the Maori Party can successfully portray this non-aggression pact as a genuine revival of the Maori Party’s foundation principles. Or, will the deal be seen as reflecting merely the self-interests of the failed and the discredited? In Waiariki, Labour candidate Tamati Coffey has already been working hard on that theme, even as he makes a respectful pitch for the votes that went to Sykes and to Mana last time around :

Mr Coffey said in his view the deal didn’t mean Mana voters would vote for the Maori Party. “After nine years in power the Maori Party has gone from ‘independent voice’ to a nodding head dog on the dashboard of the National Party….Ineffective and ornamental, they have overseen our people becoming the stars for child obesity, mental health and education statistics for all the wrong reasons, while being locked out of dreams of home ownership and left to face rising medical costs, rents and rates of homelessness.

“I respect Annette Sykes, and her calls last election for a change in Government that will deliver for all Maori. For voters in the Waiariki who tautoko [support] that, it’s officially a two-horse race. Labour is the only alternative…

It is a wedding of convenience, but on the second time around, thousands of Maori voters may well put hope over experience and give this alliance a second chance.

Soul Classics

Talking about authenticity…Even now, 40 to 50 years down the track from the golden age of soul music, treasures from that era are still being re-discovered. Almost anything by Wendy Rene, Lee Moses, Doris Allen and Debbie Taylor for instance, is well worth your time …as is this cut by Zilla Mayes, written by New Orleans maestro Allen Toussaint and released in the late 1960s on his Tou-Sea label.

Then there’s the shambolic but vital Lee Moses track “Bad Girl”

And I love this Doris Allen track“ Kiss Yourself For Me’