While like the rest of the Green Party, I wished the Maori Party the best of luck with their decision to support a National-led government, it probably wouldn’t have been what I would have chosen to do in their place. I have no desire to play a game of “I told you so”, but what I am wondering is this: How exactly does National think it will ever get the Maori Party on side for a future agreement on confidence and supply if it sides with gormless idiots like Rodney Hide on “a matter of principle” like denying an under-represented community their right to be represented how they choose? It’s not as if anyone is calling for Maori to have a more effective vote- (rather, to be able to sign up for voting for candidates that represent them more directly, if they so choose) any ward seats designed to service the Maori community would presumably represent a similar population to other wards. You could perhaps argue that this might set back race relations in the long run by segregating politics, but even that argument ignores the fact that we’re still in a place where Maori politics gets squashed whenever it does not have special seats set aside to enable its development. And the final argument? We shouldn’t do it for Auckland unless we do it everywhere? Fine, let’s be consistent and do it everywhere. That’s not an argument against the prospect at all. (This argument has also been run on protecting assets from privatisation, and is just as wishy-washy there.)
What exactly have National actually given the Maori Party in return for their incredibly patient support of a government that doesn’t seem ideologically inclined to work with them? The most significant thing is obviously the foreshore and seabed review, but that hasn’t exactly paid off yet. Apart from that, there’s really only the opportunity to fly a flag on the harbour bridge. There are business interests funding National that have got better treatment since the election than this coalition partner has.
If National really wants a second term, it would do the right thing for the country and actually start engaging with the Maori Party. It’s not likely that Act is going to represent a significant bloc next term given that they’re polling below the margin of error, so the “redneck vote” that views the idea of Maori deciding to represent themselves as abhorrent will have nowhere else to go. And even if Act do represent a significant bloc next election, can you imagine them withdrawing support from National over local body Maori seats when they support entrenching the parliamentary ones? This whole “debate” is frankly bizarre and doesn’t even have a leg to stand on. Even those Pakeha members of the public who cared enough to submit about Auckland’s supercity generally endorsed the idea of Maori seats. It’s really hard to see who exactly National is siding with if it’s not worried about the precedent of favouring the Maori Party over Act.