The final results are in and #Kowhiri2014 is now part of history.
The National Party gained a majority – albeit for a fortnight.
History has also been made for Māori. There are now more Māori than ever before in Parliament – 26 including seven from Māori seats. Success right? Well not really. Most of the MPs will be, with the greatest of respect, ineffective and lack the ability to bring about real change.
As the rest of the ‘Left’ were leaving Labour, Māori returned and gifted it six seats. Why? Labour now has a strong Māori caucus. Strong in numbers. But the reality is they will spend the next three years (if not longer) consigned to backing up their front bench, making noise and adding arguments to Select Committees.
Yes, they’ll put pressure on the new Minister of Māori Development and hopefully hold the Government to account. However, Parliament is all about numbers, especially those in the Budget. You only have influence over the finances by being in Government or at the table – Labour’s six won’t have that. The Māori Party’s two, will.
For the last two elections, Hone Harawira has ranked the ‘most effective’ Māori politician in most Māori media opinion polls.
Ironically, if Hone was still a member of the Māori Party, his ‘Feed the Kids’ Bill would probably get passed into law. He leaves Parliament, for now, urging other MPs to pick up where he left off.
It’s time to think differently about politics. Are we happy as a people, as hapū, and iwi, to simply sit on the side lines and criticise, argue, and protest? Or are we ready to “Turn our hand to the tools of the Pākehā for the wellbeing of our people”?
Of course we can’t forget where we come from, and we need to keep fighting for our people – but we need to be smarter.
I believe Parliament will be a lesser place without Hone. He’s a gifted politician. He’s most at home, being at home – where the numbers don’t matter. Imagine if he could harness the way of Parliament. Imagine if we all could.
Twenty-six MPs is a fifth of the House. We can’t or won’t always agree – that’s politics. But what if we approached matters with Māori whakaaro in our minds first?
And if we, the Māori voters, opened our minds to options other than just the Opposition, then maybe ‘Feed the Kids’ would become law. Now that’d be real change.
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