The Maori Party have been handed a lesson in real-politick. I refer here to Prime Minister John Key’s announcement that there will be no specific Maori seats on the Auckland Super City Council. The slogan “kiwis not iwis” is back in vogue.
A gross miscalculation was made by the Maori Party when they rubbished the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance’s recommendations for Maori representation. Dr Sharples dismissed their report as too weak. He evidently felt that his leverage over the government was such that he could deliver a better result than the Royal Commission.
The recommendations were not weak. They were based on many submissions, meetings and lengthy deliberations. They proposed three Maori representatives, one of them to be appointed by the local tribes. The ballast of this report would have given weight to Dr Sharples’ arguments, but he overestimated the value of the Maori Party in the eyes of the ruling class that controls National. Without the clout of the Royal Commission he was marooned.
Recently I described the exercise of choosing a Maori flag to fly over the Harbour Bridge as an episode of diversionary politics. Dr Sharples will probably get permission from the Prime Minister to fly the flag from the Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day. However iwi will have to content themselves with a flag blowing in the wind whilst having no presence at the top table of the Auckland Super City.
The tribes around Auckland have historical and ongoing interests in the region. The Labour Party was prepared to include Maori representation as a part of the new structure for the Auckland Super City. We would not have tolerated the irritation of Rodney Hide and his “one percent party”.
Hikoi means “walk” or “march”. This episode shows that Rodney Hide has stolen a march and John Key has just walked over the Maori Party.