What happens without a Maori voice?

by Shannon Haunui-Thompson / 26 September, 2017

Tamati Coffey, left, won the Waiariki seat from Te Ururoa Flavell, right. Photo: Supplied

Analysis - MMP promised a more representative government giving minorities more of a voice. But what happens when there isn't an independent Māori voice, asks Shannon Haunui-Thompson.

On Saturday night I was in Russell with Winston Peters but it was what was happening in Rotorua that had me holding my breath.

While watching the numbers coming in for Waiariki it soon became clear the Māori Party's Te Ururoa Flavell, who has held the seat since 2005, wasn't going to win.

One poll during the campaign indicated the race for the Waiariki seat was going to be close. Labour's internal poll had Tamati Coffey behind by one point. However, Māori Television's polls had Mr Flavell at 60 percent and Mr Coffey on 40 percent.

It was always going to be a race but I'm not sure anyone, other than the Labour Party, actually thought Mr Flavell was going to lose the Waiariki seat.

Mr Coffey won by 1321 votes and overwhelmingly Labour got 57.7 percent of the party vote in Waiariki as well.

Labour made a clean sweep, winning all the Māori seats back and effectively taking the Māori Party out of Parliament.

It was an emotional loss and you could see it hurt - Mr Flavell was struggling to hold back his tears as he thanked his many supporters and spoke of the disappointment he felt that Māori had lost faith "in ourselves and our own political movement".

Facebook was full of messages thanking him and calling him hard-working, relentless and kaupapa-driven. The same sentiments were echoed by some of his now former parliamentary colleagues.

Social media was also echoing some peoples' disappointment, concern and even anger that there will no longer be an independent Māori voice in Parliament, which in the spirit of MMP is a scary thought.

MMP promised a more representative government giving minorities more of a voice. What happens when that isn't happening? What happens when there isn't an independent Māori voice?

The Māori Party was formed when Dame Tariana Turia left the Labour Party because of its foreshore and seabed legislation.

In 2005 they won four of the seven Māori seats, in 2008 they got five, however in 2011 they only retained three seats after Hone Harawira left the party and won Te Taitokerau for the Mana Party.

In 2014 Mr Flavell was the only Māori Party candidate to win his electorate seat and Marama Fox came in as a list MP. The era of the Shark and the Fox had begun, but their support base was getting thinner and thinner.

Marama Fox singing with whanau, friends and supporters at Te Rangimarie Marae in Masterton. Photo: RNZ / Te Aniwa Hurihanganui

Being at the table with the National Party hurt the Māori Party. It was always a risk and they knew it.

Mr Flavell has said he won't be back and has resigned as the co-leader of the Māori Party.

Ms Fox is set to stay with the party and has said she would continue to fight for Māori from outside Parliament.

Labour have 13 Māori MPs after Saturday's result. That's plenty of Māori representation, and seven of them won the Māori electorates because Māori voters decided it was them they wanted.

But the Labour Party isn't there just for Māori. And will they be in government?

Kelvin Davis told The Hui Māoridom have chosen Labour and the party will work hard to repay them whether they are in government or not.

But what kind of Māori representation will Māori get from a National-NZ First coalition deal? National have eight MPs with Māori whakapapa and NZ First have six. However, they are not in parliament specifically for Māori either.

Winston Peters has said he'll make a decision based on what is best for New Zealand.

Now we all wait.

This article was originally published by RNZ.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Mountain – movie review
81727 2017-10-19 00:00:00Z Movies

Mountain – movie review

by Peter Calder

This high-altitude doco is more eye-popping showreel than interesting film.

Read more
Many people think about killing – why do only a few act on it?
81723 2017-10-19 00:00:00Z Psychology

Many people think about killing – why do only a fe…

by Marc Wilson

Many of the mass killings since Trump’s election involve male perpetrators estranged from their families.

Read more
The Rise: Parnell's new eco-friendly food hub
81765 2017-10-19 00:00:00Z Auckland Eats

The Rise: Parnell's new eco-friendly food hub

by Kate Richards

New food hub The Rise houses an all-vegan cafe, a Korean-New Zealand restaurant, and more.

Read more
Sky Path: The long-awaited pedestrian and cycleway represents a new urbanism
81260 2017-10-19 00:00:00Z Urbanism

Sky Path: The long-awaited pedestrian and cycleway…

by Chris Barton

SkyPath promises to be symbolic of what it actually means to inhabit a liveable city - if the project is done right.

Read more
Meet New Zealand's Arts Laureates for 2017
81758 2017-10-18 15:54:29Z Arts

Meet New Zealand's Arts Laureates for 2017

by India Hendrikse

We celebrate New Zealanders doing great things in the arts with the Arts Foundation.

Read more
Kiwi study finds probiotic use in pregnancy might ease depression and anxiety
81720 2017-10-18 13:40:20Z Health

Kiwi study finds probiotic use in pregnancy might …

by RNZ

Taking a probiotic during pregnancy may help prevent postnatal depression and anxiety, a New Zealand study has found.

Read more
At risk Auckland teens tell their stories on stage
81708 2017-10-18 13:05:30Z Social issues

At risk Auckland teens tell their stories on stage…

by Liam Ratana

A mentoring programme pairs rangatahi with inspirational artists who help prepare them for the stage.

Read more
New Auckland deli Monstera is a breath of fresh air
81668 2017-10-18 11:01:53Z Dining

New Auckland deli Monstera is a breath of fresh ai…

by Kate Richards

Everything is takeaway – though naturally there is some boutique seating – and you will be able to order lunchtime salad deliveries via Uber Eats.

Read more