Maori Party vote ploy

The Maori Party has thrown a curve ball into the lead up to the election with its plan to change New Zealand to Aotearoa and all place names to Maori by 2026.

It is part of its policy statement announced this week which also includes forming a Maori Standards Authority which will have legislative power to audit all public service departments against cultural competency standards.

Other parts of the policy include requiring all state funded media broadcasters to have a basic fluency of te reo Māori if they wish to continue working in the industry.

That’s provocative stuff and exactly what the party needed to get back into the headlines – and capture desperately needed votes.

The Maori Party has been a political train wreck in recent elections.

It was once a powerfully political ally to have, courted by Labour and National as a key coalition partner. And with that sort of demand you can influence.

But those lofty political days are long gone. Currently it has no influence.

Christchurch could have a complete transition to Otautahi under Maori Party policy. Photo: Supplied
Christchurch could have a complete transition to Otautahi under Maori Party policy. Photo: Supplied
In the past six years the Maori Party has faded into political insignificance. It held just two seats in 2014 and then disappeared from Parliament in 2017 when co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell lost his seat and list MP Marama Fox exited when the party received just 1.18 per cent of the vote.

It was well and truly beaten by Labour in the arm wrestle for the Maori seats.

The plan to change New Zealand to Aotearoa and drop all European place names for Maori is aimed directly at the Maori vote, particularly the Maori seats where there is hope they can pick up one or two and get back into Parliament.

The Maori Party appears not to be worried about reaction from non-Maori voters if you had listened to Tariana Turia being interviewed by Heather Du Plessis-Allan on radio on Monday.

Turia generally doesn’t pull punches but she often delivers it with an even hand.

But when Du Plessis-Allan debated the issue of changing place names policy, Turia came back guns blazing.

One was left with the feeling that if the Maori Party was in control, or controlled the coalition, there may not be a place in New Zealand or Aotearoa for certain Kiwis.

But then it is only the Maori vote the Maori Party is really after.

So whoever devised their policy going into this election is a master strategist.

 

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