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Dr Rawiri Taonui Election 2020 | The Old and the New, the Best and the Worst of the Māori campaigns
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Dr Rawiri Taonui Election 2020 | The Old and the New, the Best and the Worst of the Māori Campaigns 16 October

Election 2020 has seen the strongest Kaupapa Māori campaigns since Tariana Turia resigned from the Labour Party, formed the Māori Party and won the 2004 Te Tai Hauāuru by-election.

The Māori Debates

The election has had an unprecedented number of televised interviews and debates. The mainstream debates have been poor on Māori kaupapa. Māori were not mentioned in the first leader's debate and rarely mentioned in the last three.

The debates on Māori medium media were sharper. NewsHub-The Hui host Mihingarangi Forbes as informed, her questions sharp and the follow-ups incisive. The Julian Wilcox presented one-off Radio New Zealand Kōwhiringa Debate and David Jones’ Māori Television Whakatau 2020 sweep of the Māori electorates and Te Reo Whakatau 2020 Debate were excellent, Jones having the bonus of the very good MāoriTV-Curia Research polls.

Moana Maniapoto’s MāoriTV Moana and TVOne Marae anchors Miriama Kamo and Scotty Morrison pitched in with a mix of debates, panel and individual interviews, the highlight or lowlight of which was a donnybrook between Labour’s Māori Campaign Manager Willie Jackson and former MPs Tau Henare and Hone Harawira.

We need more Māori presenting mainstream debates. The Māori hosts are equipped to do both, mainstream presenters are not.

Generational Change

Election 2020 has seen a new generation of politicians. In the past, politicians monopolised information. Facts were selective and sometimes untrue. The franchise lacked access to data. Many therefore trusted the word of their favourite politicians and parties without critique. Debating was frequently combative and ad hominem. Parties in government blamed previous governments for negative figures and parties in opposition blamed incumbent governments for making things worse.

New Zealand political history is replete with examples like Robert Muldoon’s ‘Reds under the beds’ and Don Brash’s Ōrewa speech exploiting white fear about a fictional race-based Māori advantage and separatism.

We continue to see remnant elements today. Simon Bridges lost the National leadership because of relentless negativity. National Party Leader Judith Collins lost the last two leaders debates because she yelled a lot and called Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern a liar.

The new generation is calm, composed, knowledgeable, speak to facts and able to communicate and engage with a more informed constituency. They earn trust rather than exploit loyalties and fear. Māori are many of this new generation.


Peeni Henare was a standout for Labour. Calm and diplomatic he has displayed an intuitively astute acumen in several debates. He is destined for high honours. Adrian Rurawhe has been a revelation. He is composed, knowledgeable and speaks to facts, issues and reports. Willow-Jean Prime was masterful beating National’s more experienced Shane Reti and New Zealand First veteran Shane Jones in the Whangārei debate. Kiri Allen was strong in the TVNZ Young Voters’ Debate. Each has earned elevation within Labour.

16102020 - 2

The Maori Party

Party co-Leader John Tamihere has run the strongest campaign of any candidate in the country. The most informed person on the planet about what it means to be in the bottom quarter of New Zealand society he would add a necessary parliamentary presence in any capacity even a chair on his own in the corner. Co-leader Deb Ngārewa-Packer is a gifted perspicacious rangatira at multiple levels. Rawiri Waititi is a visceral and formidable Buck Shelford never take a backward step debater. These three have kept the door open on a result tomorrow.

Heather Te Au-Skipworth, Mariameno Kapa-Kingi, Donna Pōkere-Phillips have made an immense and dignified contribution opening the eyes of many to the realities of the Māori world in housing, health and education. In the south, Tākuta Ferris is smart and another not to back down.

The Greens

Alongside Tamihere, Green Party co-Leader Marama Davidson has been the standout Māori performer. Her out-manoeuvring of several more experienced male Māori politicians in the NewsHub Powerbrokers Debate and Radio New Zealand Kōwhiringa Debate, was integral to the Greens emerging as the preferred coalition partner with Labour in the MāoriTV-Curia Research polls and 2-point rise for the Greens to the safety of 8% in last night’s TVOne-Colmar Brunton.


Act leader David Seymour, of Māori descent rather than Kaupapa Māori connection, is a cool-headed new generation leader. He speaks very well about lifting ‘brown kids’ up through education but seems unaware that his policy to cut benefits, monitor the spending of those on state assistance and reduce the minimum wage would impoverish an entire generation of Māori families.

New Zealand First

Clever, cultured and crafty, New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters pulled the party back to 3% in last night’s poll. Will they get to 5%? If not, Shane Jones winning the Northland seat is the last hope of a return to parliament. Jones is polling behind National and Labour

Peters best moment during the campaign was during the TVNZ Minor Parties Debate when he warned Advance New Zealand Leader Jamie Lee Ross that advocating ‘opening the borders and living with Covid-19’ would threaten a repeat of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic on Māori communities.

The New Conservatives, Advance New Zealand, the Public Party and Vision New Zealand

The downside of new generation politics is that far-right new age fundamentalists and connivers can manipulate the internet and social media making errant misinformation plausible to the gullible. However, the majority are not gullible. Hence, Leaders, Hannah Tamaki, Jamie-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika, and Deputy Leader Elliot Ikilei will not enter parliament.

Everyone knows Vision New Zealand is a front for tithe-based Destiny Church. What were they thinking?

Research at Victoria University shows the social media posts from Advance New Zealand, Te Pāti Huruhuru and the New Conservative contain up to 31% half-truths and up to 6% fake news, the most of all political parties in the election.

Advance-New Zealand has lost its Facebook page; excellent. Te Kahika has lost credibility after being exposed several times by Stuff News and Radio New Zealand fact-checking sites and this week in a Stuff News documentary.

Ikilei is an ultra-assimilationist Christian fundamentalist who ought undergo some kind of cultural-historical conversion therapy.

Updated Predictions

-This is the most important election since World War 2. With a franchise seeking reassurance from Covid-19 and two referenda, the highest voter turnout since 1999 and an increased youth vote.

-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lost the first two leaders debates by over-philosophising 10-second soundbites. She won the last two on substance, principle, and her word. A massive win to Labour, 58 to 62 seats and a record number 15 Māori MPs. A post-election question; will Labour promote more Māori into senior cabinet roles?

-Collins lost the debates and the election because she yells and called Ardern a liar. National low 30s or high 20s percentage. A drop from eight to four Māori MPs.

-New Zealand First to leave parliament with the loss of six Māori MPs.

-The Greens to return three Māori MPs.

-Act returns with three Māori MPs.

-Overall, four to five fewer Māori MPs, but with more on the left and fewer on the right. Post-election, expect an increase in racist rhetoric on kaupapa such as Ihumātao, Whānau Ora and Māori representation.

-MāoriTV-Curia Research polls are trending toward the Māori Party. Last night’s TVOne-Colmar Brunton has Labour and National down 1% each, the Greens up 2%, New Zealand First up 1% and the Māori Party with a party vote of 1%. This reinforces that there is a trend toward the minor parties. The Māori Party to take at least one electorate. If not, they have a platform for 2023.

Paraphrasing something Peters said in 2003 but for a modern world. Māori want a decent health system, one that is responsive to need and provides equal outcomes, a decent housing system that provides first-world housing, a decent education system that provides opportunity, including for brown people, first-world wages and salaries, Māori leadership at the highest levels across government and in every institution across the country, cultural integrity, the restitution of te reo in our communities and homes, and a Mana Motuhake self-determined prosperous and sustainable future on a safe planet between Ranginui and Papatūānuku.

The mantle to achieve that will come from a new generation of Māori leaders. Vote, vote wise, vote for good brown people.

                                                                              rawiri t


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