Democracy thrives in turbulent times. Where there is resignation, passivity or inactivism – the why-should-I-give-a-shit attitude – then the road is clear for those who would weaken our rights.

There might have been good reason for resignation – how often has the left let us down? Too often – but the consequences of resignation are significant: the road is now clear for those who might be tempted to abolish the Waitangi Tribunal, close Te Puni Kōkiri or call a referendum on the Māori seats. The National Party – with its zombie partner Act – have an outright majority and Māori development is in their hands.

That makes Te Ururoa Flavell the most important person in Māori politics. As Māori Development minister, Flavell has the role of holding the line for Māori. That means he has to fight any attacks against the Waitangi Tribunal, Te Puni Kōkiri and the Māori seats.

But his responsibilities go further: Flavell has to fight against Resource Management Act changes – which will weaken the iwi role in the process – and he has to hold the line against employment law changes – which will disproportionately affect poor Māori.

That might seem like a burden too great to bear. But it’s entirely consistent with the Māori Party’s approach to politics. The purpose of their politics, they have told us over the last six years, is to be at the table. Making gains or something.

Well, the value of sitting at the table will become clear over the next three years. Will being at the table mean Māori might make some gains? Doubtful. Will being at the table mean we can protect ourselves against a right wing government with a majority? Hopefully.

How Te Ururoa Flavell performs over the next three years will determine the future of kaupapa Māori politics.


© e-tangata, 2015

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