Is there an assumption amongst non-Maori that the Maori Party speaks for all Maori?
Perhaps the Maori Party MPs believe they do inasmuch as Maori who do not embrace the cultural and spiritual values of the Maori Party are not 'real' Maori.
The Maori Party is billed as a huge success yet their polling remains consistently around 3 percent despite being high profile, involved in the 'big' issues and appearing to have made some advantageous deals with National.
In Maoridom I am sure that there is no such assumption. The tribal politics and affiliations are strong. And there are plenty of business savvy Maori who don't naturally embrace the economic left and Maori who are inherently conservative.
There has always been disagreement between Maori leaders about what is the best way forward for Maori. Some preached assimilation. Others, like Apirana Ngata wanted Maori to retain their language, their customs and culture but also to take on the education and health services provided in the non-Maori world. To equip themselves for the future.
Remarkably I agree with Garth George today who writes about the Whanau Ora report;
The phrase "te ao Maori", which means "the Maori world", occurs at least 30 times in the taskforce report. I wonder about that. After all, the social welfare system, no matter how it is constituted, exists mainly in the modern Western world.
Many of the tens of thousands of people who are afflicted by poverty or otherwise disadvantaged may indeed be part of the Maori world, but they live in, and have to cope in, the modern Western world.
The Maori Party are most certainly pushing an increasingly separatist line. Yet they represent the aspirations of maybe 2 or 3 out of 12 voting age Maori (and that is assuming the significant Maori voting age population in Australia have a similar voting preferences to their NZ counterparts).
If many Maori are getting frustrated with the direction in which the Maori Party is taking Maoridom I am afraid the door will be re-opened to Winston Peters. Especially if Labour-voting Maori decide they are not wasting their vote at the next election. There is no doubt Winston has been ramping it up recently, opposing separatism but also stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment and economic nationalism. Ironically there are disaffected ex ACT voters, ultra conservatives, who might also lean his way. I say ironically because it was Rodney Hide that got rid of him.
My own frustration lies in not wanting separatism yet not wanting to deny Maori the chance to do things their way. But do most Maori want to "do things their way"? Isn't it about time we were talking about "our way"? I want to hear more from Maori who want to put aside the division but I don't want to hear it from Winston Peters.
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