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Thoughts from the front of the class

by 1 Dec 2011Māori representation1 comment

Matiu Rata

Big Shoes: The Labour Party squandered an historic opportunity in 1974 when it inflicted the terminally untelegenic Bill Rowling on a people devastated by the sudden death of Prime Minister Norman Kirk. The party’s failure of courage in neglecting to advance the greatest Māori—arguably, given the alternately hostile and paternalistic environment in which he operated, greatest New Zealand—politician, Matiu Rata, is possibly Labour’s most craven dereliction of action to date. image Evening Post

I am now three months off age 64.

And I think I am finally over waking up election morning and making sure that me my children and one mokopuna go out and vote. My paternal grandfather urged his children to ‘tick the paper or don’t moan.’ I am of the same ilk, as was my dad.

In my earlier life as a member of the Ratana movement we voted Labour, as Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana in 1935 had offered Michael Joseph Savage four Māori members of parliament to secure Māori seats in the Parliament as his sway amongst his followers was strong, and in the next 30 or so years the Labour party had an exclusive with these four Māori seats.

In the late 1970s my wife and I started to question this vote of ours. Matiu Rata, to us, was the consummate politician: A leftie, trade union secretary, great speaker, and a respected, Māori leader, Minister of Māori Affairs in the Kirk-led Government of 1974. He was passed over in the hierarchy for the debacle that was Rowling. He decided to hit out on his own.

This now takes me to Māori and their political needs. Mat had an opening night for the all-new Mana Motuhake Party in Trillo’s Convention Centre. There were 2000 people at the function; a huge success. Bye election night he got less than 700 votes from Auckland, people voted Labour like before and we stayed in the wilderness of big party politics. My father kept a track of newspaper articles—Matiu scored many more news articles than the incumbent.

Now to the present: Tariana Turia was told after listing twice and then winning the seat of Te Tai Hauauru that she would have no sway, so she left to form the Māori Party. She was then told that she would be last cab off the rank and so after acquiring four seats in 2008 decided to, after having hui (meetings) with constituents went with John Key’s National-led government into the inner circle and two cabinet posts. At last Māori was at the table. History will tell us that they did well in a caucus that is overwhelmingly non-Māori. But no, Māori decided that their move was only marginal at best.

To suggest to me that the loss of Te Tai Tonga to Labour is another Māori in the Parliament and to then be unheard from for the next three years is a hōhā—a nuisance. Māori and the Māori Party have been in the forefront now for two bouts. Lets hope we don’t disappear when Tariana and Pita retire before or at the next election.

Next on my agenda to not caring anymore, is the state of the hōhā—a surrounding the so-called strategic moves to forward causes towards acquiring political go forward, I am now talking about the Cup of Tea. At best, as brainless as the Tea Party movement in America. Why did National think that having a buffoon like the Epsom Act candidate in Parliament would be seen as strategic. If I was a betting man I would bet that pissed-off Epsom voters won’t be sucked in next time. Rebuild the Act Party, it was dead before the Cup of Tea. I don’t understand why the bulldog that was Rodney Hide let himself get rolled. Has he done something that bad, or was he sick of the bullshit. We may never know, unless there is … a whisper.

Which brings us to Winston. Gone, from all polling indications. And then that cup of tea. He got so much traction from it that it transformed New Zealand First from zero to 6.8% in one short week. He claims the polls got it wrong by 700%, but no, it was the Cup of Tea transformed him into the great television communicator that he still is: Zilch to 6.8% in a week. The commentators say he took Labour people but last week National were at 54%, so what happened to that percentage?—pissed off Nats?—‘tell us how to vote why don’t you!’

One last one: Green is my preferred party vote. Positive Metiria Turei bubbling. Russell Norman, staid but on the ball. Today Monday, bubble gone basking, backtracking, treating the media: ‘We will let you know! We are having meetings!’ Come on, get on with it! You were at 13% last week, what happened to those percentages?

Well there I have it. Will I ever care again? Maybe.

I spent 43 years at work getting my kids, and now my mokopuna, into a position to go forward. I see Māori statistics and the poor going absolutely nowhere since I started voting 43 years ago.

World economies will come and go and those less fortunate will still be at the bottom of the heap. It makes me think that we should all have a go at being greedy Enron, merchant banks, finance companies, greedy individuals—lets do a few oldies over, stuff their savings forever; I need another Merc, Beemer, whatever.

Let the world economy crash after all I do not want my mokopuna still not being unable to pay in the future. How bleak.

Can the United States ever repay the Chinese more than a trillion dollars? Can we ever pay back $72‍ ‍billion? The mind boggles for some at just being able to pay for tucker. Maybe some of the past greedies will make it again. Maybe a few from the bottom will get a chance, let them have the opportunity to have a try. Let it crash and sort.

When I was a kid my dad said ‘Sit at the front of class—you learn nothing down the back.’ I did and I did pretty good, and my kids the same. So maybe it was me and Rangimarie who were the catalysts in our little iwi, so stuff the rest of it.

Who knows.

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