OPINION: By Martyn Bradbury, editor of The Daily Blog
Waitangi Day 2018 smells different doesn’t it?
It tastes different too.
No bitter “Māori privilege” nonsense from Don Brash and his shallow racism.
No spiteful “Let’s have a NZ day so we don’t have to feel guilty about the Treaty” whining from newspaper editorials.
No constant media barking up of predictions of aggression and protest.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s desire to show Waitangi Day the respect it deserves with a 5-day tour visiting every marae large and small alongside ministers meekly lined up to do the BBQ cooking for Waitangi Breakfast is building a movement of aroha among Māori which will create a legacy relationship that is going to dominate Māori politics.
The electricity when she visits marae is palpable and extraordinary. Her incredible ability to connect emotionally with people has generated a rapport among those packed marae she has visited in a way that will earn her devotion among voters while forgiving any shortcomings.
If she makes this 5-day tour an annual event she will build a following that will see Māori voting Labour because of their relationship with Jacinda for her entire political lifetime.
Her being pregnant is just the emotional icing, Māori in Northland have taken to Jacinda with nothing short of joy and her visiting everywhere has conjured up an excitement that will bind.
They will speak about Jacinda passing through for decades to come.
This personal relationship is going to cement Labour Party dominance of the Māori electorates leaving any resurgent Māori Party under a new leader like Dr Lance O’Sullivan with only the right for political movement because Labour will totally dominate the Māori vote on the general roll and the Māori roll.
With Jacinda building a huge reservoir of Māori voter support and the Māori faction inside Labour now one of the most powerful factions inside Labour, this puts the Iwi Leaders Forum, the Māori King and the Public Service all in a troubling position.
Many Māori live in urban areas and are not tribe affiliated. Their needs for better social services, jobs and the legacy issues created by colonialism trump Treaty deals which is offside to the goals of the Māori King or the Iwi Leaders Forum. With urban Māori having a far more powerful voice inside the new government, those movements will need to see any extra resources making a dynamic impact on the poorest.
But there’s another segment who are about to face an existential threat – the Public Service.
Building of fiefdoms
Māori know first hand the structural racism of the social service providers who care more about the building of fiefdoms than the actual welfare of Māori. Already the Public Service is strangling ministers with ministerial suffocation but the new Māori faction aren’t going to accept that.
Māori social service providers offer a wealth of cultural initiatives that bring a holistic view to caring about people and the Public Service will either need to adapt to those new initiatives or they’ll face an ongoing battle with a Māori faction that knows damn well how the Public Service denigrate their people.
The crowds thronging Jacinda on every marae suggest it’s a fight the Public Service are going to lose.
This article is republished from The Daily Blog with permission.