Q+A March 24, 2013
PANEL DISCUSSIONS: HOSTED BY SUSAN WOOD IN RESPONSE TO TE URUROA FLAVELL INTERVIEW
SUSAN: Time now to hear from the panel. Welcome to Dr Jon Johansson from Victoria University, former Alliance leader and minister Sandra Lee - good to see you - and of course Stephen Franks, who is principal in Wellington law firm Franks and Ogilvie. Great to have you all here. Sandra, you went down the track of a party falling apart - the Alliance. Is this the way theMāori Party is going, do you think?
SANDRA LEE, Former Alliance Party Leader: Well, first of all, just hearing the interview, I have to say Pita Sharples for Pope. He won't retire unexpectedly, obviously. Is there a place? The fundamental issue, and I think Te Ururoa is correct, is whether or not under MMP there's room for a Māori party in Parliament. Yes, there is, I believe. Two, probably not. And Labour want those seats back. So whether Pita Sharples likes it or not, the survival of the Māori Party isat hand. And whether he's prepared to stay on for life, and whether Tariana retires, the truth is this conversation that he's alluding to has to be had rapidly.
SUSAN: Because, Jon Johansson, against everything we know about Pita Sharples - this is a man who's authentic, genuine, would listen to the people and now saying, "I want to stay for as long as I'm alive."
JON JOHANSSON, Political Scientist, Victoria University: A good deal of the potency that has made him such an acceptable face to the wider community, I think, in that relationship with the National Party has been his humility. Now, that statement, as you say, Sandra, is anything but humble, and if you think of where the Māori Party, its original goal of being the Treaty partner with National or Labour governments in the future, to where they are now, it is perplexing to me that Sharples can take this position, because he palpably is not the future of the party. And even worse than that, what I think it shows is a lack of confidence that the party can survive without him. Now, I-
SUSAN: Let's let Stephen get a word in here.
STEPHEN FRANKS, Formed ACT Party MP: You're putting a Paheka set of values across it.
JON: Very hard not for me to do that, Stephen.
STEPHEN: Well, yeah, except we've lived side by side with Māori for years. The succession, as Te Ururoa says, is the biggest benchmark of the difference between successful institutions, companies, societies, and those that are always shambolic.
JON: Yeah, I agree with you. So you want rules that facilitate that, right?
STEPHEN: Yeah, you want rules, but Māoridom’s still going by Māori values. Succession throughout Māoridom is a huge problem. Sir Graham Latimer, an old lizard still in Auckland there. Ngāpuhican't get rid of Titewhai Harawira after repeatedly trying.
SANDRA: But it’s not-
STEPHEN: Donna Awatere comes back on to the Māori Council.
SUSAN: This is a very quick panel, so a quick last word to you.
SANDRA: It’s not a good example, because Parliament is a very confrontational place. It isn't the marae. You can't go there, hold hands and contemplate your pito - your belly button - and in fact, you've got to be savvy and strategic, whether you're Māori or not, and if you want a Māori political party to survive, they actually have tohave a constitutional and leadership plan that ensures that survival when you're being stalked by Labour and stalked by Mana. It’s as simple as that.
SUSAN: Alright. That's absolutely right. I hate to stop the conversation there, because it’s getting wound. But we'll be back with the panel a lot more shortly.