Wednesday, 27 October 2010


Years ago, when we reported on Maori fisheries settlement there was much discussion on what was known as the Brown Table.

It was a play on the Round table and the knights of old. At the brown table sat Sir Tipene, Sir Robert Mahuta and Sir Graeme Latimer. They held enormous power. They were reviled and feared but by some loved and respected.

Today we have the iwi leaders forum. A group of Maori " leaders" who have been annointed by the government and in large by their own people. A pan tribal group with enormous status and power.

Now having one group to deal with when making far reaching and contentious policy decisions makes it easy for the government. Annette Sykes, the lefty warrior is right. Something is wrong with this elitist set up.

What is missing is the consultation. And whats missing is the advocacy for the disposessed Maori living in the cities.
There is a lot less hui-ing around serious issues back on the Marae these days. Its all done in the board room. Debate is not going back to the grass roots Maori for consideration.

Instead this group talk among themselves, meet in hotels and decide a course of action or support for government policy.

Some arrive to meetings in helicopters, others in limousines. They live in very flash houses and have the benefit of university educations. Their suits are tailored in Italy. Some have homes in France.

Some have built careers out of being nothing but " leaders." Their lives were of no account before the treaty settlement process and the Iwi leaders forum became the richest game in town.

Now, by and large, they look like they are "commercially focussed" That they are indulging in this high end political game for " their people."

However its a bit kata before the hoiho.

You see there is nothing aspirational in their leadership. they are becoming more and more distant from those whom they supposedly represent.

There is little change for Maori who struggle to get out of the poverty trap.
These "leaders" are not putting the same effort they do into global issues of little impact to every day Maori like mining and ETS, as they should into crime, health and housing.

They talk about it. Thats it - they talk -they are in danger of becoming the new talking upoko kohue . The nodding tiki who are so far up the government arse that they are coming out browner than when they went in.

These leaders instead have been seduced by status and money, the constant govt fawning means that they believe that they matter. They do - but not for the reasons they think.

You get the distinct feeling that if given a choice of a kai at that fancy big place on Tinakori Road or down at the local Marae on the same day - guess where they would be.

Occasionally they do " show pony" it down on the Marae -wave their sticks and indulge in a bit of " listen up aren't I clever" korero.

But its to tell their people what has been decided. There is less and less grass roots input into big social policy decisions and while the government has got them seduced by Mining and ETS by sending them to big flash overseas conferences where they think they look important, their people continue to languish.

They have become the one thing we used to criticise the old Brown Table of being - a group of sad old Uncle Toms - Kupapa to their own.

And Annette Sykes is right. Its not doing a dam thing for people who need to be led from the brink of a sad poverty stricken existence and back to enjoy the promised land.


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

An excellent piece. I struggle to recall anything with which Sir Graeme Latimer was associated which actually prospered. A convicted tax dodger and corporate failure, no less.

Perhaps part of the answer might be for some tough love. If the gumminst simply turned the welfare benefit tap off for certain tribes and devolved responsibility to the now wealthy IWI, you might see a change in the guard as people demand a more accountable leadership style.

Marty Mars said...

I agree with much of what you are saying and I'm surprised you are saying it.

Is this your bernard hickey moment where you realise that the whole edifice is unstable and unsustainable? I hope so. As Annette says, "The commercial deals... are all harnessing Maori to a global capitalism that impoverishes the mass of working class Maori and making them dependent on its survival."

Greed, selfishness and isolated individualism are all poison to maori IMO.

kehua said...

Pretty much same old, same old the only difference being it used to be flash cars and Boarding Schools. The Maoriocracy is just another form of tribalism earned by mouth not by mana.Not unlike Pakeha NZ when you think about it.

Anonymous said...

Most of those beneficiaries of treaty handouts are the descendents of the very people who sold off land and pocketed the money.
Sykes may be right but it won't be the current bunch of troughers who will be sharing their ill-gotten unearned with their marching morons, no way. It will mean more money taken out of the pockets of those who earn a living honestly.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post Tina. Perhaps in the case of Ngai Tahu its all about democracy and democratic elections to elect 18 representatives who represent the NT marae. The elections stretched over the last 18 months have just one to complete - Awarua- Bluff- your home marae?

I am entitled to vote at Awarua- through whakapapa but their criteria excludes me; your family needs to have lived in the area for 5 generations. But I guess, I should be grateful that I am allowed to vote on a further six marae. Except, what influence will I have with my multiple votes? None. NT's voting system is not democratic; votes on multiple marae dilutes the power of the individual voter and makes representatives on the NT Council less accountable
Have blogged about the NT voting on my now rested blog + other happenings that come from the Council table.
New blog coming in a few weeks and the initial focus will be about the recent NT Council elections that by and large were a disgrace; 14 years since NT achieved independence.
a. Agree with you on your view of Sir G. The same label cannot be given to Sir Tipene - find a new one to describe his role as a Director of Hanover.
b. Your second point."the gumminst simply turned the welfare benefit tap off for certain tribes and devolved responsibility to the now wealthy IWI, you might see a change in the guard as people demand a more accountable leadership style."
- No to this for reasons:
a. the wealth NT creates should not be spent on welfare a government responsibility.
b. Whanau ora scheme, the providers are to be announced in the next few days. This will see, I predict, the same old faces who advised the Maori Party, were unelected by iwi, and who will hold position on Boards/ Councils
Let the government pick up the tab for this expensive tab.

Richard Parata

Anonymous said...

Hmmm . . . helicopters, Limos, houses in France. Very revealing. Living in a cloistered environment one quickly loses the common touch, despite rhetoric like "my heart is with my people" a trend towards aristicratic aloofness is bound to happen, it's human nature. The whole thing smacks of the hijacking that ocurred with the Douglas/Prebble privatisation.