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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Caucus reshuffle demeans Maori members

Former cabinet minister and Mana Motuhake leader Sandra Lee says Labour leader Phil Goff is spurning Maori voters with his caucus reshuffle.

Mr Goff demoted Ikaroa Rawhiti MP former Maori affairs minister Parekura Horomia five places to number 10, and only moved Shane Jones to number 13, rather than elevating him to the front bench place vacated for family reasons by Nanaia Mahuta.

Mrs Lee says there is no strategic logic to the reshuffle.

“It's genuinely puzzling me because it’s a stretch but it’s not beyond the realms that if the ACT Party were to go down, if Labour were able to impact the Maori seats and some other ifs, a coalition for Labour could be pulled together, if Winston rises from the ashes, and so on, so why you would put some of your best Maori talent at a distance, I don't know,” she says.

Mrs Lee says Mr Jones should have been a front bench spokesman with an economic responsibility, rather than transport, infrastructure and associate Maori affairs roles.


Te Atihau a Paparangi and musicians throughout the motu are mourning the death of Ike Metekingi, one of the founders of the Maori Hi Five.

Mr Metekingi, who was in his 70th year, is lying at Putiki Marae in Whanganui.

Entertainer Frankie Stevens, who was part of a later version of the Hi Fives, says he was a hugely talented performer, and his band became the template for the Maori showbands of the 1960s.

“They were very slick, they were dressed beautifully, they incorporated modern Maori and modern music of the day into their performances, and they had a pop star image. They could compete and they did with some of the great bands around the world, I mean they opened for the Beatles in Hong Kong. They had some stories to tell and Ike Metekingi was a part of all those stories,” he says.

Ike Metekingi's funeral is on Friday at Putiki.


Waikato - Hauraki MP Nanaia Mahuta says Labour is committed to winning the Maori seats, despite leader Phil Goff demoting his most senior Maori MPs.

In today's Caucus reshuffle, Ms Mahuta came off the front bench at her own request and former Maori affairs minister Parekura Horomia dropped five places to number 10, with list MP Shane Jones left in the second row.

She says this week's Te Karere-Digipoll finding that less than a quarter of Maori voters believe Mr Goff provides good leadership on Maori issues isn't as important as the way its Maori candidates perform.

“The leading Maori issue is who has the Maori mandate which is why the Maori seats are so important. We’re looking forward to Shane (Jones) mounting a good campaign in Tamaki, also in Manurewa, Louisa (Wall) will be the first Maori woman representing Labour in a general seat that is winnable,” Ms Mahuta says.

She says as a backbencher she will be able to put more time into electorate issues.


Maori commentator Rawiri Taonui says the conciliatory tone of this week's meeting between MPs Hone Harawira and Te Ururoa Flavell was good for the Maori Party.

He says it was a positive sign the Taitokerau MP went at short notice to Rotorua for the meeting, after party leaders stayed away from last week's meeting at Whakapara where his electorate committee discussed the complaint laid by Mr Flavell.

He says the Maori Party needs Mr Harawira and Mr Harawira needs the Maori Party.

“Hone represents the underclass of Maori, probably a majority of Maori, those who are still missing out, and for the Maori Party to be effective, they need to hold the two together, and if they split and divide, then they are both going to pay a price for that, Hone by being marginalized, the Maori Party by becominng to be seen of a much smaller grouping of Maoridom,” Mr Taonui says.

He says concessions need to be made on both sides.


A Tohourangi elder says the iwi doesn't want the remains of the famed pink and white terraces brought back above the surface of lake Rotomahana.

Anaru Rangiheuea says you could have heard a pin drop this week at the Whakarewarewa meeting house when GNS scientists revealed how their underwater submersibles had spotted two tiers of the silica formation some 60 metres below the surface of the lake.

The world famous tourist attraction disappeared under the lake in the 1886 Tarawra eruption that also displaced the iwi from its ancestral homeland.

“We will leave them there and we will continue to talk about them. Because it’s our history that lies there in the lakes and under the mountains. Although it’s a sad history for my people. The Rangiheuea family were all buried. My people were all in their houses when tonnes and tonnes of rubble and rock landed upon them and they had nowhere to go,” Mr Rangiheuea says.


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