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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hooten talks up Maori chances

Political commentator Matthew Hooton says overtures by the new National government to the Maori party to come inside the tent present a huge opportunity for Maori.

Matthew Hooton, a former National party strategist says the Maori party made much of the fact that it wanted to be a treaty partner in Parliament.

“I think the Maori Party has an incredible opportunity. I think it’s got an opportunity to take control of a very large portfolio if it wants it. I’m not talking about minister of Maori affairs, which is an unimportant portfolio in the scheme of things. It doesn’t have much power. I’m talking about someone like Pita Sharples perhaps almost calling John Key’s bluff and saying ‘right pal, you want to work with us, we want the social welfare portfolio.’ And if John Key then says no, well the Maori Party can say he was never sincere. But if the Maori Party doesn’t want to play ball, then the same charge can be put to them,” Mr Hooton says.

He says controlling the $10 billion social welfare budget would give the Maori party a real opportunity to prove its ability.

Maori party leaders are meeting with Prime Minister elect John Key and his advisors today to discuss possible arrangements with the government.


Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says she's disappointed at the way Maori have voted.

The Maori Party won five of the seven Maori seats but failed to capture Ikaroa Rawhiti from Parekura Horomia and Hauraki Waikato from Nanaia Mahuta.

“We were very disappointed to think that in Ikaroa Rawhiti and in Hauraki Waikato, the people there couldn’t see beyond the immediate. They could have voted the other way and they would have had four members in. They chose to keep all their eggs in that basket, and we know now they are in Opposition,” Mrs Turia says.

She says the Maori Party is planning now to capture those seats in the 2011 election.


For descendants of the Takitimu waka, all roads head to the Hawkes Bay this week as they join thousands of others united by the ancestral canoe of the Ngati Kahungunu people.

Iwi leader Ngahiwi Tomoana says up to 30,000 people are expected at the inaugural three-day festival which starts on Thursday at the Hawkes Bay Showgrounds.

He says the festival fulfils a dream by elders 20 years ago, to celebrate the history the Takitimu waka, not just in Aotearoa, but right throughout the Pacific.

“We discovered that the Takitimu was made in Samoa and journeyed to Fiji and then Tonga, the Cooks and Rangiatea before it arrived here, so we have been looking back at our history but we never looked at our pre-history. So it’s pulling together all the far flung societies of Takitimu for the first time since Takitimu left Samoa around 800 AD,” Mr Tomoana says.


More than 250 Maori business leaders meeting over the weekend had a positive view on the change of government according to a leading business authority.

Emeritus Professor of business at Massey University and former chief executive of the Ministry for Maori Affairs Dr Ngatata Love says those attending the Federation of Maori Authorities annual conference in Rotorua over the weekend saw little to worry about as the election night results came through on Saturday night.

“I would think they were more worried about how Scotland was going to do against the All Blacks at that stage. I think the mood was look government’s come and go. This is a government of business coming in, so there was a positive view quite frankly,” Dr Love says.

He says the new business-friendly government is about employment and raising productivity to better the failing economy.

He says one strong message from National is its willingness to work with Maori.


National’s co-spokesperson on Maori affairs is predicting a bright future for the new MP for Tauranga.

Simon Bridges, a lawyer with whakapapa into Ngati Maniapoto, convincingly defeated Winston Peters to secure the Bay of Plenty electorate for National in Saturday’s election.

Tau Henare says the Tauranga MP is an emerging political talent, and bolsters the number of Maori in the National Party ranks.

“I think he's going to be round for a while and I think he’s got the sort of nous to carry him through to some high positions. National now has more Maori MPs in the party than the Maori Party and also than the Labour Party,” Mr Henare says.


Taranaki based Paraninihi ki Waitiotara Incorporation is optimistic about the future despite a multi million dollar loss on an overseas investment.

The organisation that manages vast tracts of Maori land held its annual meeting in New Plymouth over the weekend.

General manager, Dion Tuuta says shareholders were told of a $31 million loss this year, due to a failed investment in a Brisbane apartment and retail project that was placed into receivership midway through the year.

He says the Maori incorporation intends refocusing on its core strengths.

“Dairy farming is our core asset base, is our core business and our core focus, and the incorporation is consolidating all its activities back to Taranaki and concentrating on what we do well, which is dairy farming,” Mr Tuuta says.

It was the incorporation's first foray into offshore investment, and despite the loss the balance sheet is still strong with assets of $255 million.


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