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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, January 24, 2011

Buyer's remorse hits morehu

A leading Ratana figure says many church members are considering whether their switch from Labour to the Maori Party was a wise move.

Prime Minister John Key and 10 of his ministerial colleagues, including Maori Party co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples, were at Ratana Pa today, as was Labour leader Phil Goff and members of his caucus.

Andre Meihana, the son of church leader Haare Meihana, says the covenant between Labour and Ratana signed by church founder T W Ratana and Labour's first prime minister Michael Joseph Savage isn't something that morehu can abandoned easily.

“A lot of the loyal Labour supporters under the Ratana movement shifted over to the Maori Party. Things are a bit different now. Maori people are sort of weighing up the options, was it a good thing to move to the Maori Party or was it not, and everyone is thinking like that,” he says.

Andre Meihana himself joined the Maori Party in 2005, opposing his older brother Errol's decision to stand for Labour in Te Tai Hauauru.


Tainui executive head Tukoroirangi Morgan says the tribe will push ahead with an independent review of its activities and processes, despite the weekend endorsement of Tania Martin as chair of Te Kauhanganui tribal parliament.

King Tuheitia attempted to sack Mrs Martin in December after she wrote a report critical of Mr Morgan and his Te Ara Taura executive and announced she would lead a review of tribal structures.

Mr Morgan says he accepts the weekend's 32-21 vote by marae delegates in favour of Mrs Martin retaining her job.

“Here's an opportunity to go back again and conduct an independent and comprehensive review of everything that we do and try to get to a place where we can better deliver results, where we can reduce costs, to try to find a way about how we do our business better,” he says.

Mr Morgan says the review led by retired Maori Land Court judge Heta Hingston could lead to reductions in the size of both the parliament and the executive.


One of the country's foremost Maori broadcasters says the most satisfying part of his job was allowing listeners and viewers to hear high quality Maori being spoken.

Kingi Ihaka has retired from Maori Television after 25 years in radio and television.

The 68-year old from Te Aupouri started his broadcast career late, after service with the SAS and the police.

He says on programmes like Marae and Waka Huia, the way a story was being told was often more important than what was being said.

“Factual content was not the issue. It was more he was speaking perfect Maori as an example to other Maori colleagues and the fact he was telling the story as he understood it to be,” Mr Ihaka says.

He's pleased he was able to record people so their grandchildren could one day listen to them and see them.


Taitokerau MP Hone Harawira says the way the Maori Party is dealing with a complaint against him has descended into farce.

The complaint, over a newspaper column in which Mr Harawira attacked the party's continuing support for National, was laid by whip Te Ururoa Flavell and endorsed by the other Maori Party MPs.

Mr Harawira says he was barred from addressing the complaint at a party meeting at Whangaehu.

“Yesterday I attended the meeting of the national council and both Te Ururoa and I were there. By the time we got around to dealing with this big elephant in the room, this complaint, they asked us to leave the room. It ain’t kaupapa Maori. It’s certainly not natural justice,” Mr Harawira says.

The complaint will be discussed by his Tai Tokerau electorate committee on Thursday, but that is unlikely to resolve the matter.


Constitutional reform was on the agenda today when politicians made their annual pilgrimage to Ratana Pa near Whanganui.

Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader Phil Goff both led large ope onto the marae for the hui marking the birthday of church founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

Andre Meihana, one of the prophet's great-grandsons, says the constitutional review announced by Mr Key in December is of prime importance to morehu or church members.

“The prophet talked abut constitutional reform, he talked about there would be a time when we will become an independent republic, saying don’t wait to deal with the constitution after because you become a republic. It will be hard to do it after and it won't happen,” he says.

Mr Meihana says Ratana members want to see the Treaty of Waitangi as the foundation of any future constitution.


Labour's Maori affairs spokesperson says economic hard times will affect the way Maori vote in this year's election.

Parekura Horomia joined party leader Phil Goff and other MPs at Ratana Pa today to remind morehu of Labour's long-standing links with the movement.

He says while the Maori Party has highlighted issues like the Maori flag or replacing the Foreshore and Seabed Act, it's the economy that matters to most Maori families ... as could be seen by the attendance at Ratana.

“People going to hui like the waka going to Ratana, people are a lot more nervous about taking the day off that in the past they wuld have taken off with the blessing of the company, everyone is protecting their job, everybody’s concerned, particularly abut the food prices, the petrol prices, the electricity prices and the quite dramatic rise,” Mr Horomia says.


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