By Ellipsister, Co-Editor
Whether the Māori Party will survive the next election is a question often on the lips of many pundits. Given the landscape, there will be a lot of work to do. After all, throwing shade on the Māori Party occurs from the hard left, to the hard right and everywhere in between. That’s not to say that the Māori Party are immune from all criticism. Far from it. As a kaupapa Māori political entity, being open to transformation through critical reflection is imperative to its survival.
However, the narratives spilled across social media and news media pages allege sell outs, separatists, many invoking racial slurs – intended and unintended, and spit insult after insult. All that coupled with the intentional act of trying to misunderstand the Party and their kaupapa makes for a tough road ahead. Unsurprisingly, many who engage in said hostility have never sat kanohi ki te kanohi in a marae, or stood shoulder to shoulder in a hikoi to advance the interests of Māori, or soaked in the whakapapa of the party, or the aroha that every single person involved has demonstrated for whānau, hapū, iwi and hapori Māori.
As Māori its natural to look at the whakapapa of things. Tau Henare pointed out at the Party’s AGM that the seeds of the Māori Party were planted long before it manifested itself in 2005. He alluded to the fact that the party has an enduring whakapapa, and is born of many decades of resistance, from He Whakaputanga in 1835, to the Māori seats in 1867, the 1975 land march led by Dame Whina Cooper, to the days of Nga Tamatoa and Patu, the struggle for kohanga reo and kura kaupapa, through the rise and deminse of the Mana Motuhake Party and more. Knowing, understanding and appreciating the whakapapa of the party, will be instrumental in changing hearts and minds.
I have to agree with a remark I overheard a couple of kuia agree on:
It takes courage to be a member of the Māori Party
They were not criticising the party, they were referring to the political landscape Māori who advance kaupapa Māori are subjected to daily. They were acknowledging the assimilationist rhetoric, that many Māori are also championing – that we can’t trust ourselves and must invest our trust in the State, and invest our minds in ideologies that have not stemmed the flow of cultural loss and devastation. So I am comforted by the fact that there are many kuia and kaumatua who have and who continue to fight for kaupapa Māori, and many more people still who continue to mahia te mahi – not just in spite of, but because of the hostility.