May 10, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

The Mana Party launch: A Personal Perspective

12 min read

Claire Trevett was wrong.

When our little whanau was invited to attend the launch of the Mana Party, I was one of the few cautious ones. For me, cautious as we had only just given our all to the Maori Party for two electoral campaigns and here we were again, rallying to the call of people we trusted Hone, Hilda and all the Harawira and Halkyard whanau, Annette Sykes, Bernie Hornfeck, Tuhipo Kereopa community leaders who we knew did the good yet hard mahi for all people.

For me, Claire was wrong in saying that many at the launch of the Mana Party were suspicious, as the crew we travelled with felt energised and motivated, travelling by bus and by car to Te Mahurehure Marae in Tamaki Makaurau. Anyway as I was on baby-sitting duty with Atutahi and Hiona, this is some of what I saw from out the back.

When we arrived, that guy from TV3 (Patrick Gower, I think) was there with his camera man – eager fulla! We were ushered down the driveway by the Maori Wardens and asked to park on the grass further back. Matua was not sure how all the cars and vans would fit over the coming day but waved us through with a smile.

As we pulled around the corner of the attached wharekai, we could see Tino Rangatiratanga and Declaration of Independence flags waving in the wind. It was nice coming from Rotorua and seeing the sun. Im a man who looks for signs and these were good ones. About 30 people sat on chairs under the tent erected on the right of the whare, while teams were moving back and forward in and around the marae. We chose a nice spot under a broad tree and got out.

As waewae tapu, it was a bit tough cos we also had to set up the IT equipment inside the marae as Nikolasa was looking after the social media side of things. We walked slowly toward Te Mahurehure. I noticed Arthur Harawira so made our way over to greet him. Things were all go so Arthur walked us over to our spot and helped introduce us to the whanau. Funny, because many of us had spoken over email for many months and this was the first time we had actually met, face to face. Technology ey.

We gathered our gear, set up the 4 screens one for the soon to be launched website, one for facebook and twitter, one for volunteer sign ups and a powerpoint slideshow of Maori pictures, images and photos from our past and present. Full on alright but for us, it established a good variety of engagement and experiences that everyone who went by, had a look, gave an update or got involved. Once all the cords were connected, me and the kids went out the back to wait for the powhiri. Our friend, Quinn Nahi arrived, helping Nikolasa and eventually coming to sit under the broad tree and talk.

Over the next half an hour, the grounds filled up with cars, vans, trucks and buses. My kids thought they saw a few horses but alas, there were none on this occasion. As the conch sounded, the official welcoming of the old people started. From near and far they had travelled. In truth, if there were looks of caution, it was on some of the old people. They had also given their votes and support in the past to Labour and to New Zealand First and felt those parties had moved away from them, changed in many ways. So when they heard that Hone had left the Maori Party, they encouraged him to start anew, to start afresh and to keep that independent Maori voice in Parliament. When I sat and heard that, gees, I had to give it to our old people. I felt the tug on my left hand and Atutahi asked can we go and play down at the creek?.

As we walked away, my daughter pointed to a sea of red and yellow flags being carried by young Pakeha supporters. She liked the colourful flags. I appreciated the supporters. Now, many do remember the comments that Hone made about not feeling comfortable if any of his children brought home a Pakeha partner. In a way, I understood that – first, because as a young dude, few Pakeha girls took any interest in a gangly, weird looking Maori boy like myself lol. But then again, all of my Maori girlfriends tended to be distantly related, which was still way too close for me. It was in Christchurch where I met Nikolasa and my attitudes have slowly changed ever since. I mean, as Nikolasas mum is Dutch, my kids are Pakeha and that view can no longer be sustained in my mind. It was there when the only people I walked with, talked with on any given day were Maori. Now its different. But I am aware that many people still see Hone as racist but then, are any of us without racial prejudice? It can be a tricky one and its there I think Don Brash will scratch (remember THAT speech in Orewa?).

Amongst the colourful group of union supporters, community leaders and activists was a good friend, David Colyer. He taught me lots at Canterbury University about mass movements and mass struggle – I was happy to see and eventually catch up with him. Same with Malcolm Mulholland, Marama Davidson and Whenua Harawira. Again, we all looked pleased as to see each other. Its like after the battle and you regroup to see who is still standing. Anyway

We then heard the conch reverberate into the Auckland skies and looked over to see Hone arrive with whanau, friends, supporters, strategists, a few people who wanted to be next to celebrities (I called it the Buckingham effect) and kaumatua who saw it as their lifes mission to ensure Hone got back into Parliament. He lookedhmmm.humble. Quiet. Thinking. Head down but eyes up. The Movement came from the people all around him. He seemed calm, still.

Again, the feeling was real and palpable amongst the back row. Everyone started pushing in from the back, the loyal 300 stood and for a brief second, I smiled. How Spartan. Our old people. Mokopuna. The North. The South. Pakeha. Japanese. Tongan. Maori. Irish. Poor. Unemployed. Workers. A couple of Bosses, like Willie Jackson lol. Artists like D Word, Whirimako Black. Heaps of people. It was hard to miss, which has surprised me regarding the media coverage Ive seen so far. Again, anyway

Papa can we get an ice block please?

By the time we returned, Annette was getting up to speak. It was choice to see and hear the cuzzies and whanau from Waiariki get up to haka her on. She felt inspired and held the audience transfixed as she took us on a journey of reflection, of lost opportunities, of near desperation but now, of hope. Even if the hope she gave was a glimpse, it was enough, especially for us poor, working hard Maori who have to survive on the basics yet not quite sure where next months bill money was going to come from. For me, thats what was cool about her korero it was real and it was us and asked, who has your interests at heart in that House right now?

Hmmm. Made me think.

Hone Harawira?

Regardless of my brief history with Hone, today is what mattered and I understood that. My approach was to support my wife who had a job to do, look after the kids and take what I wanted, leave the rest. Sure, it was seeing politics with a fresh set of eyes, which can be difficult when you have some negative history, but for the sake of myself and hopefully, my kids, our society needs to get better from the mahi our representatives do in Wellington as well as the collective efforts we all put in back at home. So if not Hone, who?

Metiria Turei says lots of good things and I could totally see myself spending long hours talking life, politics, the past, the present and the future with. The Greens are a mean party. Their reputation for direct, take no shit action is exactly like mine. They love Papatuanuku and care deeply for the future. Their korero around protecting and respecting eco-systems appeals to my holistic embrace of oneness with all our taonga me ona tupuna. I could honestly say the same about Nandor and Sue. It was good when a bro and me spent a few minutes with Rod Donald back in te Ra. Ae, so love there ey, definitely.

Then theres Labour. When I worked for Hone, the one dude I thought came across as the most arrogant was Shane Jones. Not sure why but he just had this robust nothingness emanating from his every pore. Heaps of people liked him and appreciated the work he achieved back in his home but when I was walking to the caf in Parliament and gave him a chur bro nod, he looked at me like hardly boy dont you know who I am?. Made me want to crack right there and then but argh, for what. Anyway, Nanaia I have admired since the day she stood at Waikato University and started her korero with the words of Uncle Bob Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds. Can still hear it now. But because she signed that stink seabed and foreshore act, well, it shows that THEIR machine is what keeps you in that system of privilege and power. Heck, if I was getting $90k a year for the next 3 years, plus my kai paid for, plus my travel and my whare, plus some other perks and stuff, Id stay too. But oh well, they do have a job to do and most do it incredibly well. Even Kelvin Davis apparently

When it came to the Maori Party, I do respect all 4 members. Of the three campaigns I was involved with the Maori Party, I worked with Angeline Greensill in the Hauraki-Waikato electorate on two occasions. They were magical meeting the people throughout those beautiful and long lands and while we lost, we all came away with some valuable lessons around why keeping up the fight is essential. So then it was massive to see so many of those same people at the Mana Party launch, as well as in attendance at the hui held in Rotorua, Tauranga, Whakatane and Tokoroa. We were all definitely buzzing!

So then it leaves Act, who will represent a powerful and sudden leap to right of the right. I kind of saw it in the States with the Tea Party movement and wonder if Act will tap that fervour which Winston is also building his campaign around. One friend said the middle was fairly tight and well contested until last week Labour and its crew on one side, National and its crew on the other side. A Don Brash led ACT, he said, now raised fear amongst beneficiaries and young parents who he will push into menial work with poor conditions, then look to punish harshly and swiftly any criminal element, before attacking Maori privilege, underdeveloped this and that and ultimately call all of us the problem. I hope not but that last big speech he gave was the pits. Maybe he has changed and will add some brain muscle to lift all because it is there, rather than just a few of his rich mates. As for Winston, Guliani missed out too cos he fired too late. But what do I know Im just the babysitter.

And then National. You know, on Twitter, Tau sounds cool. Interactive as. Hekia is getting dissed hard out for being a sell out. Not her fault as National are keen to copy parts of Australia, like mining and drilling to raise some putea. Maybe its just the fact that she seems to be smiling every time Apanui say no to drilling in the Raukumara and now has brought in the Navy against our own people. Spooky. Then theres all the surveillance society acts, the copyright act passed under urgency man, democracy is getting smashed by the Nats. Yeh, nah I dont trust them. David Bennett is still the man and Paula Bennett needs to get real. Gees, youd think someone who has been there would know better. Anyway

So then, it does come down to Hone for me and mean. After seeing all the people who support him and who will stand up to support the Mana Party because it will be uncompromising and assertive about protecting mana whenua, mana moana, mana tangata rights then it will be the Mana Party. I loved that so many old people from all over were there. It was also choice to see so many of them bring their mokopuna into the korero, saying you are a part of history here, have a listenand many did. Annette was right. So was Nandor, John, the Koro Selwyn, Sue and from what my bro Tony said, the Tongan gentleman. They were all right. Now, how do we bring all of those rights together? That will be where I see Hone excel because they all did it before in the 70s and 80s and it is their time to do it for us again. Thats why I have faith. Its because I appreciate the history and we can all see what must be done today and in the future. Unless

So, ae, in my opinion, the coverage of the Mana Party has been both largely negative. Oh well, you get that. Right here, I have to state while I am a member and supporter of the Mana Party, at the same time, will remain active and open. We will print every press release and story we receive from all the parties as best we can (please remember, we get hardly any putea for this mahi and there is still only 2 of us) and are looking toward opening up a specific website to cover Maori perspectives of the election. All the attention is on the Rugby World Cup at the moment so well get back to you on that one.

If I could offer some advice, it would be more around policy. I would like to see policies that are usable, practical and community based. Id like to see the idea of a Community Pickers group being supported to put up panui around the local neighbourhood and find fruit or veg thats going unpicked in the backyard, in the fields or on the orchard; that would be gathered up, bottled and given out from marae, food banks, everywhere. Weve seen lots of fruit and veg going to waste and right now, food is expensive. Imagine this in Gisborne or up North. Sometimes it is about better redistribution.

Another is to catch those banks now. Since a good portion of their profits go to overseas investors, why not require that 5% of annual profits need to be redistributed back into a community fund (half yearly at 2.5%), which is managed independently by a community trust. Not forever just the next 4 years to help things around here get better. Then at least the money that is being used in the system stays a bit longer and does a bit more good while it is here. In a way, a little can do a lot. Given the furore over the bi-election costs (is it really $500k I need to find out the actual figures) and the fragile state of our economy and our environment, we need one love, one heart policies now more than ever. Importantly, please give Tuhoe back the Urewera, plain and simple.

So in finishing, I am a little bit more hopeful after the weekend launch of the Mana Party. The weather is going to get wetter and colder over the next few months so well need to keep active just to keep warm. Nah. The bi-election needs a lot of work but can be done. In another sense, the cost will be high if the other parties, like the Maori Party and Labour, contest the seat. If they want to save money, dont run. I supported news of the bi-election as it was time to step out from that uncomfortable situation, get a new group ready to face the real and massive problems we have here now and get on with the job. Thats seems big enough. Starting with 1 is good. Now, what about the rest of us?…

Ka whawhai tonu tatou. Ake. Ake.


10 thoughts on “The Mana Party launch: A Personal Perspective

  1. Kia ora rawa atu koe mo to korero! I haere hoki matou o te Tairawhiti ki tera ra whakaputanga o te Pati Mana. He rawe, he miharo hoki nga korero me te whakakotahitanga o te minenga. Heoi ano, kei roto i te whare, ko te Pati Mana.

    Te Nguha Huirama-Patuwai
    Ruawaipu me Uepohatu

  2. The meeting at Mahurehure marae was full of inspirational leaders, nga mihi ki nga rangatira i tu ai ki runga i te atamira ki te korero i nga korero whawhai mo tatou te iwi Maori kia noho ora ai i roto i tenei Ao.

  3. I heard on Radio Watea there's a hui back at the Mahurehure Marae tomorrowSunday the 8th, can anyone here confirm..

    Kiua Ora..

  4. was there too…loved ur recount of the day and the very significant points you make… I will think on them …. kia ora!

  5. A thorough well written insightful piece Potaua – I couldnt be there, but was transported through this article.Thank you – Rosina Hauiti.

  6. Good korero bro! Yeah go the baby sitters! Important job that, just as important as being on the stage giving our people hope and telling it how it is! In the words of Mereana Pittman "If we're not doing it for our mokopuna, then what the H?LL are we doing here?". The time is right and we need to start believing in ourselves that only we can make the change and we have the power within each and every one of us to do that. People can either sit back and watch the game or PARTICIPATE in it. Have to say, that's definitely me – doing it for our kids and all the generations to come – hope to instill in ourselves and them that living a-whanau, a-hapu is a great thing … not this "I'm alright Jack" that the western culture would have us believe is how we should be. Ko tou raurau me taku raurau, KA ORA TATOU!

  7. Kia ora Potaua! Excellent storytelling and great direction for where to from here. One of my highlights of that day was catching up with you and Nikolasa!

  8. As much as I admire Hone for his total "political and for the people" stance I just wish the Maori, Hone bashing etc would go away. I too gave my all to Maori & Labor Parties but the rug was pulled out from under me and many others. But I must continue to fight the fight for Maori and many other non Maori supporters who love our country and who would love to see the TOW etc upheld in its true and contracted status. I am Tuhoe Ngatimanawa and I love my identity, values, beliefs and practices. All I ask is for a fair and equal opportunity to live life to the fullest in my own country of Aotearoa. At the moment I am type two diabetic but still positive and passionate about living as long as I can. Mauri ora

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