Ratana – LIVE

Te Reo Putake live blogs the visit of politicians to Rātana paa during the celebration of the life of founder Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana:

It’s a glorious day in the Whanganui region. Around 28 degrees, blue skies, a gentle breeze. We’ve been welcomed onto the marae and the introductory speeches and waiata are leading into more direct messages to the politicians. PM Key has just been emphatically told he must delay signing the TPPA until full consultation has been held with all Kiwis. This demand was greeted with huge applause. There are protesters here, but they have been entirely in concert with the day; calm and dignified. A big, big police presence, but it is the maori wardens who are keeping the peace.

The Maori party have also been getting a coded roasting in the welcomes. There has been repeated reference to the month long alignment of the planets, the hint apparently being that the MP need to find a new alignment.

Andrew Little also gets a burst; that’s over his ill though out beauty pageant remark. Though Andrew was also greeted with “you are us, we are you”. The ties still bind.

But the main criticism is aimed at the PM. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds.

More as it happens.

Andrew Little: Andrew Little starts with an explanation of his ‘beauty contest’ remark. He dosn’t resile from it. He says their are differences between the parties. He points out that workers from Ratana who work at AFFCO, Imlay, just down the road, are being denied the right of union representation. What sort of government would do that, what sort of leader? he asks. John Key! someone shouts from the big tent.

Little runs through the links between Labour and the Ratana church; an 80 year old alliance. He compares that alliance with the way national are treating maori. He says “we can do a lot better.”

Little finishes by saying that Labour best represents the hopes and aspirations of maori and all kiwis.

James Shaw: The Greens leader says he is pleased but nervous to be here. He speaks quietly, but wisely doesn’t self promote. His speech focusses on the harm being done to kiwis, as far as I can tell … he really speaks quietly. The other green MP’s, and some from Labour join Shaw for a waiata.

Winston Peters: Pleanty of jokes from the old stager; ‘since I’ve been coming here, Labour have had 8 leaders, National about the same, the maori party four. NZ First have had …. one!’ Winston finishes a flourishing speech in which he puts the boot into all the other parties, by going all Obama on us: “Can I get an amen? Can I get an amen for the Ratana church?” Yes, yes he can! Brilliant!

Te Uraroa Flavell next, speaking only in te reo apparently. He is given a rough ride at the start (loud murmurings from one of the big tents) and ends to no real applause. The little I picked up seem to be a challenge to Ratana (perhaps he was feeling the loss of the local seat to maori? Or was stung by the criticism that the MP were saying one thing on the TPPA, but still supporting the government that is bringing it in?).

John Key: “TW Ratana was ashpirational for maori. He was a smart man, his followers are smart people.” So smart they don’t vote National, John. ‘It was my government, with the Maori party, that lifted maori up, with better education, more employment’.

On the TPPA: All such negotiations are in confidence, treaty settlements are confidential. Not a single part of the TPP cuts across the treaty of Waitangi.

On Imlay: No sweat, the workers should be Ok. Americans love our lamb chops, that’ll make the difference. We grow the level playing field and we all profit. Helen Clark wants the TPP, labour don’t believe their own words. We will have to pay to get out of the TPP. Nobody owes us a living. Iwi around the country will be stopped from selling their good overseas if there isn’t a TPP.

“We have to make our way in the world”.

“Education, there was a report out today about the elimination of jobs. I can take you to Scott Tech in Dunedin and show you an automated freezing works”. I think that was a threat to the Imlay workers of some kind.

‘Let me conclude by saying I’m going to be back, don’t let anyone tell you about our young people going off track … they’re full of hope and ashpiration. The truth is, we need the world. We can say No to the world’s consumers, but we’re not going to. In the end, this is about NZ. An incredible future, mumble, mumble, with disappointing results.’

Ok, that’s it for now. I’ll try and clarify some of the speeches in an hour or so, particularly the Maori Party situation. I did get the feeling that the message to them was clear; quit this government. Some quick points; Little got the best reception, but he did get chided for being disrespectful. Key rambled and delivered a speech that could have been recycled from a breakfast fundraiser at the Parnell Rotary club. In summary, all he said was that the TPP is all Labour’s fault and the opposition to signing it is thoughtless and will hurt maori most. I think he’s going to cop some serious grief at Waitangi.

UPDATE: The media reaction: Jenna Lynch at TV3 notes that the message to Key was blunt; don’t sign, consult. The accompanying video, however, is mostly sycophantic rubbish. Claire Trevett at the Herald counts the boos. Govt taken to task say Radio NZ. TVOne have the most comprehensive and detailed account and are the only ones to have spotted the pressure being put on the Maori party. They also have a great shot of Key stroking his thigh like it was a big meaty ponytail (@ around 1.45 in the vid).

One final thought. I think we are seeing the last days of the Maori party as a coalition option for National. The message today was clear, that party needs a new alignment if it wants to stay credible.


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