Maori TV & Native Affairs presents The Great Debate: Who will represent Te Tai Tokerau in 2011?

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Round One!

The campaign for Te Tai Tokerau took another step closer as Hone Harawira, Kelvin Davis and Solomon Tipene met to debate in front of a packed Northland College hall in Kaikohe tonight.

The debate opened with a touching and real whanau story by Tina Wickliffe a 28 year old bro from Kaikohe who wants nothing more than to look after his 2 tamariki, to be a good fianc and to be surrounded by his whanau. Well, all of that and to find meaningful mahi. Te Tai Tokerau lacks jobs yet has powerful potential and it was choice to see this brother not sleeping on his talent and working at the Kaikohe Speedway; but looking around, no politician nor political party had ever convinced him enough to enroll let alone vote.

The adjudicator Julian Wilcox set pace for the debate, allowing each candidate to give their opening statements, which all three did in te reo Maori. Meanwhile, out in the hall, the audience waved its placards and applauded its support. We heard it was invitation only and that all 3 parties got the same amount of tickets and the cheers offered were those of friends and supporters.

Solomon Tipene spoke well, answering every question with a dash of experience and then a pointer to Maori Party policy and achievement. Touting himself as a solid draught horse, in the background, doing the mahi, Solomon acknowledged the value of working alongside National, backing himself and saying that the Maori Party would not let Hone get a free run in the upcoming by-election

Kelvin Davis started positively, on message and in tune with Labours ambition to win the upcoming election. By looking at Maori futures, Kelvin was looking to initiatives that got more people into work, that lifted teacher standards in every school and that all plans needed to be developed from the community over a long period of time, especially around mahi.

Hone Harawira reached out to his supporters by thanking them for the work each had done to get to this stage. Without the vast resources of the state, the Mana Party was still actively connecting with whanau throughout Te Tai Tokerau and Hone was articulating the basic wants of the rohe to ensure every children is supported and able to read, write, speak and count well, for instance.

It was in the Polls that we learned much. Native Affairs & Baseline Polling had conducted a telephone poll that posed a dozen questions, ranging from who voters thought had the best personality (Hone 66%; Kelvin 26%; Solomon 9%); was the by-election justified (56% No; 44% Yes) and of those polled, who did they think would be the best coalition partner for either the Maori Party or the Mana Party (Labour 57%; National 28%).

The two big questions confirmed what commentators have said previous:

Hone Harawira connects directly with the voters of Te Tai Tokerau 41%.

And that Labour is the Party that whanau support 36%.

The poll results for who voters would choose was close though: Hone 41%; Kelvin 40% and Solomon 15%.

Kelvin said it was about Labours message getting through, whereas Solomon said he was doing the mahi but that the Maori Party still had some way to go. It was interesting that Hone mentioned Tai Tokerau voters not having landlines, many instead utilising cellphones. This gave me a hmmm true pause. He also said that Mana had been out door knocking and canvassing the community and support was high. All this proved there was a real race to be the next Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau.

Those Party support numbers though, did tell a story – Green 6%; Labour 36%; Maori Party 25%; Mana Party 21%, NZ1st 2%.

It also hinted that while it was a real possibility that Mana could work with the Labour Party, Phil Goff had ruled out working with Hone; meanwhile the Maori Party were happy with their relationship with National and therein, Act and Don Brash, to which Hone could not stomach.

Solomon was the first to mention that while Labour had out-polled the other two as the preferred party, it had lost support to both the Maori Party and Mana from the 2008 election results. Still, Labour had deep history in the old political system would that amount to power in this new setting?

With an active audience, we saw the Minister of Maori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples and his wife Arapera in attendance, as were the front row of the Labour Partys Maori team Nanaia Mahuta, Shane Jones Parekura Horomia and all their red shirted supporters. The Mana supporters were there in force, in good voice and supporting Hone. It was choice to see Hilda and many of the whanau there. Julian kept a tight rein on the excitement as the debate went into question and answer mode.

The first question was an acknowledgment that Te Tai Tokerau suffered from many social ills and dependencies but that local self determination, local for local solutions were needed and whether any parties supported iwi Maori? Kelvin said a 30 year inclusive plan would be ideal while Solomon said interagency, hapu, iwi discussions, focused on he tangata, he whenua are where the opportunities are. Hone asked to look at his experience with kura, with broadcasting and with iwi to see his results. There was another look at taxing the rich to provide the resources to build Te Tai Tokerau the voters just needed the courage to do so.

The next question was about Maori representation at local, regional and central government level. Hone recommended iwi get together and set common points before engaging with Council, locally and then nationally, which would then flow into Parliament and encourage the growth of Maori Parliament. Kelvin referred to the building of Maori futures. Solomon said that Maori representation was crucial – in local, regional and central levels and that the Maori Party had initiated plans, especially around areas where population of Maori was high but there were few Maori representatives at the table.

The final 2 questions were a bit rushed the first from Keri was around National Standards at school and how many schools, parents and students were concerned with their implementation. Kelvin said that schools did not need national standards; what was needed were excellent teachers in every school; to invest more in teachers and to create an environment where teachers could weave their magic. Solomon was concerned with the rift in the education community but appealed for the Maori Party to be judged by their achievements as they had supported a broad range of initiatives. Hone congratulated Keri personally, saying that he was a fan of Maori schools that engaged with whanau and the community at every step of the process. The second question was about how each candidate would enhance and encourage the use of te reo Maori, which was briefly answered in te reo Maori by all 3 in the affirmative.

Then the debate was over.

So, at the end, who won?

For starters, the people of Te Tai Tokerau. The Maori Party surprised by saying they were conducting polls through the rohe and Labour seems to have taken a fresh approach to a flagging political brand but all eyes are on Te Tai Tokerau, moreso than the Mana or the Botany by-elections

Native Affairs gave viewers (and now, readers) a chance to listen to each candidate, live and uninterrupted. Although it was touted as a debate, there were only glimpses of the fire that lies beneath. Julian did well to temper the heat and guide the korero but many of us wanted to see the thrust and parry of active debate and discussion. It looked like Kelvin and Solomon were leaning too heavily on scripted pieces, allowing Hone to talk about actual issues rather than policy statements.

Maori TV managed to again set the lead for televised coverage as the debate was short, sharp and informative. The poll questions were good, though I did wonder when the people polled said they would not trust any of the candidates to deliver on their promises it made me laugh actually. Seems as much credence we give to politicians, there are still no messiahs with all the answers around the corner (or is there??).

At the same time, Te Tai Tokerau has been used since the inception of colonisation for plans not of its own making, opening the korero that Wellington still thinks it can control the North; meanwhile the people are trying their very best to make good.

It seemed strange to hear Solomon ask whether Hone would stop the attacks on the Maori Party when one was to read a press release sent out earlier today by colleague Te Ururoa Flavell stating Some things dont change it seems, whatever party Mr Harawira belongs to. He never lets the facts get in the way of a good story. Oh well, thats politics ey.

I also couldnt help but think Kelvin was sharp as a tack but had such a limited pool of experience that while his focus on education was on to it, he could be steered into party clichs which might ultimately dilute his appeal.

And weve seen Hone speak a few times over the past few months now. He doesnt fail to excite and was the only one ready for an actual debate. What caught my attention was when Hone spoke about protecting our foreshore and seabed, protecting the countrys assets and to see many of the Red Shirts clapping their hands.

So then, if I were to pick who won the debate tonight based on the poll results, the answers given, stage presence and answers to questions raised from the floor, Hone Harawira would get our nod.

Hone was clear and concise, while the others sometimes looked like they were just guessing.

While the support for Labour had lifted, probably so had their spend on this campaign; same with the Maori Party. Meanwhile, Hone was building a campaign of the poor, for the poor, by the poor and still making an impact.

Probably most important for me was that Labour and the Maori Party saw institutional reinforcement as the key while Hone said the power is with the people, not the state.

And there it was.

So, with less than 2 weeks to go, Hone knows that Kelvin and Solomon are in hot pursuit and will keep the challenge going until the very last vote is counted.

In saying that, I do hope more whanau enroll, especially rangatahi. At the end, the audience stood to applaud their candidates; I couldnt help but wonder what the bro whose story opened the debate was thinking. He is probably the one we should all be asking

potaua
Monday 13 June 2011

4 COMMENTS

  1. It is perfect time to make a few plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I have learn this publish and if I may just I want to recommend you some interesting issues or suggestions. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I want to learn more issues about it!

  2. Morena Charmaine and thank you. This story was printed in the Northern Advocate – I will correct shortly and also send a message up the line to those fullas too. Nga mihi and aroha ki a Raewyn.

  3. Additional Note: Pakeha candidate in Tai Tokerau cries foul
    http://www.northernadvocate.co.nz/local/news/pake

    The only Pakeha candidate in the Te Tai Tokerau by-election is claiming Maori Television and TVNZ are biased against him for not allowing him to take part in upcoming TV debates.

    Both channels have defended their decisions, TVNZ saying it wanted best quality debate possible in the short space of time and Maori TV saying its polling supported its stance.

    Voters in the byelection will get the chance to see three of the five candidates for the seat in a live television debate on Monday. As well, TVNZ's Marae Investigates intends to host a debate at its Auckland studios on June 17, again featuring just the same three candidates.

    Maori Television's flagship current affairs show Native Affairs is hosting an invitation-only debate at the Northland College Hall at Kaikohe from 8.30pm to 9.30pm on Monday, which will be broadcast live.

    The debate features the "three main candidates" contesting the June 25 byelection – Mana Party's Hone Harawira, Labour's Kelvin Davis and Maori Party's Solomon Tipene.

    But Kelvyn Alp of the OURNZ Party – believed to be the first Pakeha to ever contest a Maori electorate – and Maki Herbert for Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, are also standing.

    Mr Alp said the fact he and Ms Herbert had been excluded from the debate showed bias from both TV channels.

    "It's for the voters of Te Tai Tokerau to decide who the main candidates are on June 25, not television channels beforehand," Mr Alp said.

    "The public has the right to be fully informed before making the decision about who to represent them, but if they are not hearing from us about our common-sense policies then they can't make that informed decision."

    He said there was a legal precedent for his concerns after United Future Leader Peter Dunne and Progressive Leader Jim Anderton forced TV3 to include them in a live leaders' debate before the last election after the channel didn't invite them to them take part.

    TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said the issue was a "hardy annual" that arose at every election. "It is always necessary for us to make a judgment call about how many people can usefully and productively be included in election debates," Ms Richards said.

    "We have an obligation to present the best quality debate possible in the short space of time that is allocated, and we have no doubt that the interests of the community are best served by sticking to the three established parties/candidates."

    Native Affairs producer Raewyn Rash said the show had a responsibility to provide current affairs with and from a Maori perspective.

    Maori TV general manager of news and current affairs Te Anga Nathan said the decision to hold the debate was based on a Native Affairs poll carried out on its behalf by Baseline Consultancy. "This poll clearly showed the leading three candidates. Given the results of the poll we decided that a debate involving the three leading candidates was justified," Mr Nathan said.

    "However, that is not to say that we are ignoring all other candidates. All candidates have been profiled on our news programme, Te Kaea, which has run a series of stories on the byelection campaign."

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