Sunday 22 July 2012

Oh, Tuku?

It almost feels like I’ve been out of the loop. So much is going on that involves the media and Maori and I’ve been too busy to even keep up with it at any respectable rate.

But what I do know is that John Key, finally, has stepped into a big pile of shit. And the funniest thing is that he didn’t even see it coming because that’s how little regard he gave to Maori.
While I haven’t caught many of the interviews I did see Shane Taurima’s talk with the prime minister on  TV1’s Q+A programme on Sunday morning and it was fair to say Key wasn’t his usual unflappable self.
And I, for one, am not disappointed the veneer is starting to rub off a little. They say never to trust a politician and I have always tended to believe them especially when it comes in smooth packages.
Ever since he came into office Key has had a bit of a magic run. He appeals to middle New Zealand – mostly a white crowd that include farmers, small business owners and mum and dad investors. He has been well-liked and seemed to possess the ability to pass off his slight geekyness as the kind of lovable bumblings of a good-soul.
He has definitely played the game well.There is no doubt that Key got National back into power with his charisma.

But don’t underestimate him. He was good enough to form relationships with the powerful including a group of Maori leaders he thought would help him get his plan to sale of the country’s china.
Unfortunately for him, I think he may have miscalculated.

The move from the Maori Council to seek an urgent hearing with the Waitangi Tribunal was just the climax point things needed. And it came right at the best possible moment.

While Key and his ministers have tried to say that they have a mandate to sell the four state-owned power companies, it was pretty obvious that even among those who vote blue there are some uncomfortable with the policy.

Because at the end of the day Kiwi’s like Kiwi-owned.

And no matter what kind of economic argument is put forward or what kind of legislation is enacted to try and protect the country, New Zealander’s will never want to lose what essentially binds us together and that is the land and the water.

Key says no-one owns the water, and he may well be right, but many out there have come around to the idea that if Maori can claim rights over it then that may stop any sales, or at least delay it long enough. And that makes the discussion of Maori rights a whole lot more palatable than it has ever been before.

So interesting is this situation that it could almost be the death-nail for National’s stint in power and the way we think about Maori rights. 
The National Party's mates certainly haven’t stepped up very well. The Maori Party have been far too slow and indecisive and the Iwi Leaders Group is under too much pressure to have any real sway.

And as each story gathers and another media report is consumed by potential mum and dad investors slowly the foundations that the policy rest on are surely destabilised.

Because seriously, even if Key and his cronies pass legislation and float 49 per cent of the companies who is going to want to buy those shares with this controversy hanging over them?

And the best part about the whole thing is that it isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The legal proceedings that are bound to come will tie things up indefinitely and give great fodder for the country's journalists.

So far the media have done a pretty good job, coverage of the issue has been pretty good and wide-ranging.

But here’s the thing, personally I want to hear from the man who last year was publically touting the sale of assets as potentially beneficial to Maori. The man who once boasted that one of his skills was that John Key would take his calls, the man who put forward an idea that iwi could be given shares in the SOEs in future settlement deals, the man who has been at the coal-face and is fully immersed in the world of the Iwi Leaders Group.

And, unfortunately, Tukoroirangi Morgan has been unusually quiet.

Meanwhile, it is Maori language week so remember it is cool to korero.

Ma te wa.

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