Question: why would the Maori Party say that they dont see the point in attending the Kingitangas national hui? Answer: incompetence.

Its a familiar pattern. The Maori Party repeat the government position, they come under attack for doing so, 24 to 48 hours later they switch sides, possibly remembering that they are the Maori Party. If this was an innocuous issue, there would be little to no consequence in endorsing the governments position. The thing is, its not. This leads me to the second question, how will the Maori Partys position effect Maori opposition. Answer: immensely.A fragmented opposition is easier to neutralise than a united opposition. The Kingitanga and the Maori Party are power structures in Maori society. Together, they represent a threat to the governments objective to divide and rule, split, and they represent no threat at all.

In rejecting the Kingitangas national hui and assuming this is a thing iwi/hapu have to work out themselves, the Maori Party have endorsed divide and rule. Their stupidity amazes me. An iwi by iwi approach will give the government the opportunity to exploit differences and jealousies between iwi. The result, aside from the results I outlined inthe previous post, will be a reduction in the price of any bargain, especially in the case of pre-settlement iwi. A useful analogy is with trade unionism. As a collective, workers have more power and the chance to drive a better bargain. As individuals, the bargaining power is weighted towards the employer and as a general rule a lesser bargain is struck. It blows my mind that the Maori Party allow the divide and rule approach to stand.

Moving away from the Maori Party, the third question is will the Kingitanga pressure Waikato-Tainui negotiators to refuse a deal that excludes a national solution? The answer: yes.

Tom Roa, the chair of Te Arataura (Waikato-Tainuis executive committee), hasexpressed his approvalof the governments iwi by iwi approach. Presumably Roa will play a key role in negotiations. However, the Kingitanga have access to Roa and their word will be persuasive.

Tumu Te Heu Heu, the paramount chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa and member of the Iwi Leaders Group,presumably agrees with Roatoo. However, Ngati Tuwharetoa follow the Kingitanga too, therefore the King has the mana to lobby Tuwharetoa to switch positions.

Of the other major iwi affected, Te Arawa and Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Maniapoto support the Kingitanga. Te Arawa dontper se, but Ngati Pikiao host the poukai (the only iwi in Te Arawa to do so). In any event this will not stop the Kingitanga from lobbying.

With this in mind, the last question is: will the negotiators for Waikato-Tainui, Ngati Tuwharetoa and the other affected iwi take heed and refuse a deal that excludes a national solution? The answer: on the balance of probabilities, theyll take the deal.

The rhetoric from key figures in Waikato-Tainui seems to indicate they will take the iwi by iwi deal. The Herald reported that figures in Waikato-Tainuihave pressured pre-settlement iwito take a deal on credit. That, ladies and gentlemen, is an example of divide and rule in action. The larger iwi who stand to make a commercial windfall will pressure other iwi to take a deal as well, regardless of whether those iwi have the structures in place to negotiate, accept and manage the results of a deal. There is nothing in the public domain that supports a different conclusion.

Maori, what we need is unity, unity and more unity. Having some iwi take a deal while excluding a national solution will cause more harm than good in the long run. Having the Maori Party endorse the governments divide and rule approach will do more harm than good. Whatever way you look at it, were getting let down by some of our leaders. Good on the Kingitanga, the Maori Council, the Mana Party and most iwi for supporting a national solution. Shame on the Maori Party for supporting the governments solution and shame on some in Waikato-Tainui for putting their own interests ahead of whats good for our people.

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  • Josephine Rena Maniapoto

    While I am uncomfortable with your criticsm of the Maori party, being a Maori Party supporter of the Te Tai Hauauru electorate, and I am a dtrong supporter of Tariana Turia, having known her and worked alongside her on many of our own projects before she entered Parliament. But, in this case I have to agree with you. Maori unity us what is required. Standing together, and it saddens me, that in this case they gace been caugt flat footed.