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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, June 27, 2011

Party rift will take more than cosmetic patch

Former Cabinet Minister Sandra Lee says a deep rift between Hone Harawira and the Maori Party leadership means prospects of his new Mana Party working with his old party are slim.

The Mana Party has given the re-elected the Te Tai Tokerau MP a month to see if he can make an deal with the Maori Party not to stand candidates against each other in the Maori seats.

Mrs Lee says Mr Harawira left because of what he denounced as a move by the party to the right ... and that's unlikely to change.

“They're cabinet ministers, they’re comfortable working with National, they’re comfortable working with John Key, and they feel they are making inroads and achieving things at the table by virtue of that so I don’t see how the fundamental ideological rift is going to be mended simply for campaign purposes,” she says.

Mrs Lee says Saturday's narrow loss in the Te Tai Tokerau by-election could inspire Labour into campaigning harder to win back other Maori seats in the general election.


And Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says as far as he's concerned, the party will stand a candidate against Hone Harawira come November.

He says Solomon Tipene's 1026-vote third placing was acceptable given the circumstances.

“You know it was a big ask for us, three and a half weeks to bring in someone brand new. We thought we had some infrastructure up north but of course they were all Hone’s branches so we had very little apart from some leaders asking us to stand up there. We did, we got 10 percent of the vote, and we’ve got to really get that seat back,” Dr Sharples says.

The Maori Party's election strategy will be to make Maori people aware of the gains they've made by being part of a National-led government.


The head of Diabetes New Zealand says the government must act against the diabetes epidemic wreaking havoc in Maori and Pacific communities.

Chris Baty says a World Heath Organisation study ranking New Zealand among the five worst developed countries for type 2 diabetes confirms the diagnosis of health professionals here.

Maori and Pacific islanders are three times as likely to have the disease than other New Zealanders.

Dr Baty says she was alarmed to hear from a kaumatua that diabetes was becoming almost normalised in his far north community, as it indicates something that is killing people younger than necessary is acceptable.

She says while Maori communities need to find their own solutions to problems like obesity, the Government can help by supporting nutrition education programmes.


Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says there is no way Mana leader Hone Harawira will be allowed to take over the movement.

Mr Harawira celebrated his by-election win in Te Tai Tokerau by announcing he was prepared to work with the Maori Party ... but then criticised its leadership as "slow and stodgy".

Mrs Turia says it's clear all he's offering is a takeover.

“We have 23,000 members. I don’t think our membership is going to allow somebody who constantly speaks negatively about the leadership and about this party in the way he does, I don’t think they see him as the future leader of the Maori Party and certainly I don't,” she sayd.

Mrs Turia says as a member of its caucus Mr Harawira was unable to work within the Maori Party kaupapa.


Meanwhile, former Labour cabinet minister John Tamihere says Saturday's Te Tai Tokerau by-election was a game changer for Maori politics.

The west Auckland Maori leader says the Maori Party lost so badly, getting less than 10 percent of the vote, because it's deaf to generational changes in Maori society.

He says that's likely to be played out in the battle for his old seat of Tamaki Makaurau between Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples and Labour's Shane Jones.

“There's been a generational shift in Maori politics. It’s quite clear that guys 55 or thereabouts against guys 72 of 73 or whatever are going to play a greater role, and in Maoridom there is a generational shift going anyway,” Mr Tamihere says.

The Maori Party couldn't even hold the booth at Dr Sharples' stronghold at Hoani Waititi Marae in West Auckland.


A photo of a Ngati Whatua tamariki playing in the shallows at Auckland's Okahu Bay has gone on show at the United Nations in New York.

Photographer Josie McClutchie of Ngati Porou, the audio-visual production manager at Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga centre for Maori research excellence, says it was featured in an exhibition on the Right to Water and Indigenous Peoples which ran alongside the tenth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

She says the shot of 7-year-old Denzel Hakopa Timu was a way to highlight Maori concerns.

“The Marine and Coastal Area Bill was going through its second reading, so that was the political backdrop, and then I tied in the kinship this child now has with their waters, Okahu Bay,” Ms McClutchie says.

Now she wants to get back home to the East Coast to record what's happening on among Ngati Porou.


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