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Maori Party Renaissance 

Today's article in the NZH by Claire Trevett provides an excellent summary of the change in fortunes of the Maori Party - up from 1% to 4% in the One News Colmar poll.

It provides the sequence of events that has led to this admittedly flaky result that Marama Fox has the specific task of stabilising. And she has shown some real political skill in doing so to date, firstly by standing up to Hone Harawira over his sudden withdrawal of suport for Te Ururoa Flavell's Maori land reforms. He needs Maori Party support more than it needs Mana, and she immediately returned the compliment - round one to Marama.

Labour then attempted to flail Maori over the support for Nick Smith's RMA changes. He had conceded to Maori involvement, but not veto powers over RM deliberations, and the removal of ministerial veto over the ability of individual councils to impose GM sanctions.

The devil is in the detail of definitions as is so often the case - does it extend to grasses and trees as Marama contends, and Phil Twyford denies? Nick Smith is content to leave it to the courts to determine the matter based on definitions in other legislation. One thing is for sure - it does not extend to animals or health research, and I guess that is a relief, but the Feds are having conniptions over any restrictions whatsoever.

One way or another, it does appear a signal victory for Fox and the Maori Party that should translate into solid votes come September.  Quite apart from Marama's new-found prominence, one should not overlook the influence of Tuku Morgan in the background. His swaying of the King movement in behind the Maori Party of which he is President cannot be under-estimated. Morgan may appear on the surface the King's surrogate, but the significance lies in the symbolism. 

The Maori seats become more and more important for National to hang onto power come September, and the actions of Labour's bumbling leader in denying the Maori Party kaupapa will only serve to solidify the trend away from Labour.  

The Point England development debacle is a significant case in point - Labour's new opposition is hard to rationalise - is it because of its kaupapa? - unlikely, in view of Ngati Paoa's undoubted pre-eminant Treaty right, or does it fear being left behind with the Green's teary support of the dotterel whose supposedly fragile existence has been used far too often to prevent reasonable development?   


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