Friday, July 31, 2009


There will soon be one flag that represents them all.

All of Maoridom that is.

The Maori Party has invited iwi to 21 hui across the country to vote for one of the four flags on offer. Hui started in the far north in Kaitaia and will finish in Dunedin the middle of August. The results of each hui along with any written submissions will be presented by the Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples to Prime Minister John Key later in the year. The most popular flag will legitimately fly high on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, at Parliament House and anywhere else and on occasions Maori deem important, significant and worthy starting with Waitangi Day 2010.

But not all Maori are united in the one flag for all notion. Most noticeably vocal in their opposition is the opposition. Labour MP’s and cousins Shane Jones and Kelvin Davis make up the Tai Tokerau trio along with their maverick whanaunga, Maori Party’s Hone Harawira. If they were All Blacks they would form an impressive front row. They are fearless in their drive to succeed, they can be intimidating particularly when debating race, poverty and justice and of course they are physical heavy weights. Not all brawn without brain, their collective minds are outstanding, each one an astute community leader and shrewd politician, even Davis who’s only been in Parliament eight months is holding his own. While they may cringe at being described metrosexual they do have a softer, feminine side. All three sons have no hesitation in showing their passion for their people and their love of whanau.

On the flag issue however, the line is drawn. Mr Jones says the whole exercise reeks of shallowness and insularity that the debate should be about a national flag for all New Zealanders. While Mr Davis quizzed the Minister of Maori Affairs in the House earlier stating that, with 400 to 500 Maori joining the dole queue each week, would it not be better to hold 21 hui on job creation or educational underachievement instead?

The two Labour MP’s brought up relevant points. Mr Jones speaks of collectivism, inclusiveness while Mr Davis makes legitimate references to the economy and education. What is of interest is not what they said but rather that these two centre-lefties, rurals from struggling working class backgrounds had the audacity to deny what they know to be true and correct for Maori. Pita Sharples says these flags are beacons of hope; a signature flying high, telling the world who we are. “There is probably no stronger picture of this in my mind than that incredible sight of the flags proceeding down Lambton Quay in the Hikoi of 5 May 2004.” Says the MP.

There’s nothing these Labour boys can do about the hui or the outcome. Well actually they can go along and vote for their flag of choice, it may very well tip the balance.

The issue for them is not the hui or the flag but the Maori Party’s position as coalition partner with the National Government. These Maori Labour MP’s just don’t like being in opposition – who does?

The last flag or haki hui is in Dunedin 13 August. Let’s see what the people come up with.

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