Jo Moir at Fairfax examines the party positions:
Bottom-lines are being dropped thick and fast around the country but there’s one in particular that’s got politicians divided.
Winston Peters’ policy for a binding referendum on whether to keep the country’s seven Maori seats could cause all sorts of problems for other parties looking to do a coalition deal with the potential Kingmaker after the September 23 election.
So who stands where on whether to put the Maori seats to the vote and who should get to vote?
Unsurprisingly the Maori Party, who holds one of the seven seats (co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell has Waiariki) doesn’t want them abolished and would like to see them entrenched in New Zealand.
It was the Maori Party influence that resulted in the National Party dropping their position to get rid of the seats when the two teamed up in government.
The party’s co-leader, Marama Fox, has attacked Peters for wanting to “put Maori back in a box”.
“It’s ridiculous to think that if we had a referendum in this country that Maori would be successful in retaining the seats because everybody is taught in the same mainstream schools now….we’ve all grown up in the Euro-sized white-washed version of our history.”
She called out NZ First Maori MPs, Peters, Ron Mark and Pita Paraone, for leaving their values behind when they entered Parliament.
“I just look at them and think what did you do when you walked into Parliament, leave your values under the carpet? Seriously guys, and you say I’m representing the greater voice now, what, than your own, or your own conscience, or your own value system, or your entire history of being brought up?”
Fox blamed “red and blue governments” for the “cultural genocide” that means “our own people don’t understand our own culture, language and identity”.
“It’s ridiculous to think that can be overcome with one little referendum.”
Marama Fox shows just how thick she is. In attacking those MPs she highlights just how many Maori, far higher than their population would suggest, are MPs. All without the benefit of special race-based apartheid seats set aside for them.
As the party who holds six out of seven of them, leader Andrew Little says he totally “backs retaining” the Maori seats.
“It’s been our position for a long long time and we’re not changing that.”
So can Labour work with NZ First in any sort of government given their differing view points?
Little says Peters has already come out with a number of bottom-lines and they’re something that will be addressed after the election.
“I’m absolutely adamant the Maori seats are here to stay under a Labour-led government.”
The Maori rort has helped Labour more than it has hurt. Of course he wants to retain the Maori-mander.
National Party campaign manager Steven Joyce put in his two cents after Peters’ made the announcement on Sunday.
“In terms of the Maori seats we’ve always said there will come a time one day when everyone agrees they’re no longer needed but that day hasn’t happened yet.”
On what that means for working with Peters post-election, Joyce quipped the NZ First leader had so many bottom lines now “he must have a dedicated person to keep track on them”.
“We won’t worry too much about that until we see how the election goes.”
Steve forgets that National had this policy before Bill and John got all brown-nosey.
Mana Party leader Hone Harawira is also against a referendum and would like to see the seats entrenched.
Harawira is relying on a win in the Te Tai Tokerau seat this year to return him to Parliament after losing the seat to Labour’s Kelvin Davis.
The ACT Party doesn’t think the seats are needed and leader David Seymour says if Parliament was “serious” about getting rid of them a referendum wouldn’t be needed.
United Future leader Peter Dunne is happy with the seats as they are but if there was a referendum, he says, it should be for Maori to vote on.
As for the Green Party they don’t support a referendum and would leave it for Maori to decide the future of the seats.
Peter Dunne will be happy as long as he is there somewhere. Act is right and who is this Hone guy?