Opinion: Maori Party must kick National in guts

If the Maori Party has any chance of survival, this is it - ditch the Crown limousines and admit it was wrong to turn right and take a cruise down National Street.

That's right - the Maori Party must dump National. It must get out of that confidence and supply agreement.

Because National Street has turned out to be a cul-de-sac - a dead end.

And the Maori Party is stuck there. They have to find a way out or continue to wither away.

Everybody knows I have huge respect for Tariana Turia and I've long been on the record about that.

Same goes with Pita Sharples, a living legend who has fought all his life for his people.

Te Ururoa Flavell is a good man, another fighter, and in Parliament for the right reasons.

The Maori Party movement is full of good people and it's got a good kaupapa which would be a loss to Parliament.

A change in co-leadership to Flavell this weekend won't be enough to save it.

It needs the nuclear option.

It needs to kick National in the guts and walk away.

I agree that after the 2008 election, the decision to be "at the table" was probably the right one politically. Hell, even Hone Harawira wanted to be a Minister in John Key's Government then.

The Maori Party looked like players, like a maturing political movement.

They got Ministerial jobs, changes to the Foreshore and Seabed law, Whanau Ora - those aren't crumbs.

But maybe it is now time to admit staying with National after the 2011 election was an error.

The Maori Party has looked increasingly compliant as time has gone by.

And when it comes to the crunch - and I'm talking about Key's dismissal of the Waitangi Tribunal claim on water here - the Maori Party looks like it has next to no influence.

The reality is the Government doesn't really need the Maori Party's three votes as it has a majority to pass asset sales and the pokies deal with John Banks and Peter Dunne.

The Maori Party actually opposes asset sales and the pokies deal - who knew?

The party is increasingly looking like a bit player.

This was symbolised by the utter gutting of Flavell's anti-gambling bill by National.

Flavell cut a lonely figure on the stage that day, next to National, nothing left of the bill he created. The question to my mind was "why is Flavell even standing there?"

It's time for Flavell to change the narrative.

He needs to start distancing the Maori Party from National. He needs to start extricating it from the cosy relationship.

He needs to position the Maori party differently - much differently. "Positioning" isn't enough any more - he needs to make a break.

The Maori Party could continue to respect its agreement with National but get in the zone for a blowout over a point of principle in the coming months possibly around Waitangi Day.

And despite the bad blood, as it may be for Flavell and Turia in particular, the Maori Party may need to come to some sort of arrangement with Hone Harawira's Mana party.

It need be no more than an agreement not to stand against each other in a couple of seats and to meet with each other over voting in Parliament.

The Maori seats are a gift - and at the moment the Maori Party and Mana are giving seats away to Labour.

Maori and Mana need to stop fighting each other and start fighting Labour and National.

Oh, and get a new female co-leader in place too, sooner rather than later to give them a bit of profile.

And name successors for Turia in Te Tai Haururu and Sharples in Tamaki Makarau as soon as possible for the same reason. Voters need to see the next generation - right now.

Both the break-away with National and hand-shake with Hone are big calls - a lot of personal pride is on the line for Sharples, Turia and Flavell.

But the Maori Party needs to look like it's alive.

It's not too late though to save itself.

The solution is simple: the Maori Party needs to kick National in the guts - and put a hand out to Hone.

source: newshub archive