Will Pakeha Party emerge?

TAHU POTIKI
Last updated 08:04 19/07/2013

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Tahu Potiki

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OPINION: It has taken them a term and a half but it seems this government is really starting to find its stride.

Belt tightening, while needed, is taking its toll as every day a new announcement about cutbacks or redundancies appears in the media. Schools are closing, first-home buyers are about to have the goalposts moved, benefits are tightening up, and most other sectors are experiencing zero increases in funding.

True to form there is a planned redistribution of the savings into large infrastructure-type projects, most of which we can't really afford but desperately require.

The constant bad news paints a pretty grim picture and there is a sense that things are going to get much worse before they get better. A couple of silver linings for your average family are the low, low interest rates and the very real prospect of opportunity on the horizon if the rebuild boom ever genuinely takes off.

But otherwise it is easy to get seduced into the doom and gloom of the media commentators and mandatory opposition naysaying.

Heading into next year's election there seems little chance that the New Zealand public are going to have a viable alternative for Prime Minister so it is likely that we will have a National government for a third term. And I have to say that may end up being a very good thing for Maori as over the past five years we have seen some major developments that most would not have expected under National's watch.

I have recently been going through the papers of my grandfather. He was born, raised and fished on Stewart Island, where he obtained his marine engineer's tickets. After getting married and moving to Otago he ran a small dairy farm until the Depression, where he hit hard times and ended up working on the roads.

He and his family shifted to the city and, as the first prominent Maori family living in the city, he became heavily involved in Maori welfare, the establishment of urban Maori facilities and pastoral care for those Maori shifting to the South Island. He was also a fierce and unwavering supporter of the National Party.

There have been many times over the years where National has been seen to be less than pro-Maori, most notably, in recent times, during the Brash leadership period. But at many other times they have been champions of progressive Maori policy and in the current term their respectful and successful association with the Maori Party has surprised many.

Perhaps this is what has created the environment within which a Pakeha Party can emerge with such fervent support. There is no credible, senior political voice bagging Maori for all of their so-called ethnically driven privilege. No-one from the opposition benches is spitting venomous hyperbole about one nation, one law.

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Instead the Left, who pride themselves on supporting Maori, have been left to bag National for too much pandering to the Maori elite. Unfortunately this falls a little flat when we look at new policy like Whanau Ora, born of the partnership agreement, which deliberately targets whanau with the greatest need.

So it has been left to social media and the notoriously ill informed to incite themselves into a moronic frenzy about what terrible suffering Pakeha are enduring through no fault of their own.

The grievance machine has been thrown into reverse gear to pick up the poor Pakeha people who have been passed by and forgotten, left waiting at the station.

Clearly I am in no position to make a judgment on all 60,000 people who think such a party is a great idea but it is a worrying sign.

One thing that does tickle my funny bone, though, is that hundreds of these guys must be cringing at having to refer to themselves as Pakeha.

They still, quite erroneously, consider the term insulting and continue to suggest that it means white pig or flea. And it is this ignorance, on a much grander scale, that lies behind the cause for concern about something as ill considered as the Pakeha Party who, by the way, are actually starting to take themselves seriously.

I accept that the issue of customary rights versus ethnic privilege is complex and that, for many, the colonisation argument is hard to swallow but the social policy positioning is much easier to understand.

Although the National government has stayed engaged and proactive with the Maori Party and iwi forums it is the social reforms that will strike Maori hardest.

Those who will struggle to save the minimum deposit, those least likely to find employment and who are destined to fail more dramatically in the compulsory education sector will be those pesky, privileged Maori.

Without targeted policy they will fall even harder and society will pay the price.

- The Press

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