Every day I thank the great spaghetti monster in the sky that Māori bashing has fallen from political flavour. Of course, that’s not to say things are fine and dandy now, but compared to the early to mid-2000s, things are noticeably less awful.
Like many politicos, I know too little about Māori politics. Just as many on the Left didn’t give enough attention to MANA in 2011, I haven’t given enough attention to the Māori political scene. But this has to change. From the MANA-Dotcom alliance to John Key fundraising for the Māori Party, Māori politics is increasingly prominent. Thankfully, the Māori media scene is doing a great job covering it. All politics watchers in general (and the Left particularly) should pay close attention to Māori politics. Māori politics, like the rest of Te Ao Māori, has always played a crucial role in this country’s history, and always will.
In the bad old days outrage at treaty settlements squatted regularly on the front-page, and ‘more money for the maoris’ was a talkback staple. Much of the blame lies with political elites like Winston Peters, John Ansell, and Don Brash. They fed New Zealand’s racist anglo-angst, and reaped a tidy dividend. And now Don Brash is trying to revive this ugly brand of politics. Screw you and your book, Don. I haven’t forgotten your prejudiced brand of politics. You are not a scholarly Casanova; you are the dull and hairy echo of an uglier time.
Ironically, the fact that the Right are in power seems to have put Māori bashing into hibernation, but no doubt it will return when the Left retakes power. Not because the Left will bring the hate with them, but because racism is a big stick that only the Right can wield. The Left will never hit National for supporting a ‘treaty gravy train’; only the Right can do that, and socially liberal Young Nats would do well to remember that. That is not to say that Labour is deeply committed to Māori. Those of us with long memories remember Clark outflanking Brash with her foreshore and seabed law. Given the same pressures, I have no doubt Cunliffe would do the same.