October 17, 2005
The Māori Party in New Zealand has opted to stay out of the Labour-led coalition as the new government was formed today. And I have to admire its leaders for that.
The Party’s co-leader, Tariana Turia, was once with Labour and broke away from the party over legislation that she felt was one step too far, attacking the Treaty of Waitangi, the country’s founding document.
While some voters may have expected the Māori Party to align itself with Labour—certainly, commentators on election night did—it is refreshing to see Ms Turia and her team look to the long term in forging an identity of its own.
It would have been too easy to just succumb to the establishment, as the New Zealand First party did, but this action reinforces the Māori Party’s already successful brand, one which attracted four seats.
In 2005, it’s not enough to just play politics: you need clear differentiation. The Green Party once had it before it began to look institutionalized; now the Māori Party’s actions have distinguished it, and as a result, it has brought more light on the issues that affect Māoridom in general.
I have always criticized the fact that if New Zealand has Māori as one of the two ofﬁcial languages, then why aren’t the banknotes or street signs bilingual? That is what an immigrant thinks—so imagine how Māori must feel when it comes to a Treaty which offers them ‘joint sovereignty’, all while the system is a modiﬁed Westminster one imported from the UK? The ﬁrst step is to act the brand—one which promises true differences for the Māori people and the fabric of New Zealand as a whole. Despite not being Māori, I am proud to see that. permalink
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