Sunday 9 June, “Hei Waha” Debate, Taita Community Hall, Lower Hutt.
Statement on poverty. [Read more...]
Sunday 9 June, “Hei Waha” Debate, Taita Community Hall, Lower Hutt.
Statement on poverty. [Read more...]
Mike Kyriazopoulos reviews Red October: Left-Indigenous Struggles in Modern Bolivia, by Jeffery R. Webber
This major study of the movement in Bolivia that delivered hammer-blows to the neoliberal project is rich in lessons for activists in Aoteroa.
In tracing the movement’s origins, Webber notes how its indigenous activists are inspired by the tradition of the anti-colonial hero of the 1781 insurrection against the Spaniards, Túpaj Katari. Before Katari was drawn and quartered for his role in the six month siege of La Paz, he warned the colonialists that he would “return as millions”, and the protagonists of recent rebellions see themselves as the embodiment of this return.
Another influential figure was the writer Tristán Marof, who advanced the slogan “Land to the Indians” alongside “Mines to the state”. Marof went on to become a founder of Trotskyism in Bolivia, which was influential amongst the vanguard of the working class, the miners. Events such as the Catavi Massacre of 1942, when striking miners and their families were machine-gunned by the army are indelibly burned into the collective consciousness of the working class.
After a prolonged period of dictatorship in the 1970s, the union movement, in alliance with indigenous activists launched a general strike. Electoral democracy was eventually restored in 1982. However, this was followed by a “neoliberal revolution” in 1985, which saw the privatisation of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), and the proliferation of subcontracting, leading to informalisation and fragmentation of the working class. [Read more...]
The following is the text of a speech given at a Socialist Alliance public meeting in Melbourne on 7 November by Workers Party member Grant Brookes
Ko Ranginui kei runga
Ko Papat nuku kei raro
Ko ng tangata kei waenganui
Ko Grant Brookes ahau
Ko Helen toku mama
Ko Don toku papa
Na tepoti ahau
Na Koterana oku tipuna
Ko ng kaimahi o te ao taku iwi.
When a Maori person rises to talk in formal occasions, they often announce their speech, with “tihei mauriora!” translated literally, “sneeze of the life spirit”. It is then customary to recount one’s ancestry and tribal connections. So I said, Ranginui the sky father above, Papatunuku the earth mother below, the people in between. I am Grant Brookes. My mother is Helen, my father is Don. I am originally from Otepoti (Dunedin). My ancestors are from Scotland. Being Pakeha, or a New Zealand European, I have no Maori tribal connections, so I say; the workers of the world are my tribe.
I speak also as a socialist, and a member of the Workers Party. And I am a member of Mana. I have consulted with my ropu (or branch) and my Rohe (electorate) about today’s talk, though I must stress that I am not mandated in any way to speak on behalf of the party, and the views expressed are my own. [Read more...]
The Aotearoa is Not For Sale hikoi departed from Cape Reinga on April the 23rd and reached parliament on May the 4th. This march demonstrated that tangata whenua are at the forefront of struggle against privatisation, expressed widespread opposition to asset sales, and raised questions of how to move forward.
The kaupapa was broad, and contested. Thousands were united by opposition to National’s plans of selling 49% of state-owned assets to private companies. Other issues of corporate and ‘foreign’ ownership included the AFFCO meat-works lockout, offshore drilling and the Crafar Farms sale.
In an article for Scoop, Anti-capitalism must feature at hikoi against asset sales, Valerie Morse argued the focus should be on capitalist ownership rather than foreign ownership: “A number of very well known ‘kiwi’ brands equally well meet the definition of a multinational corporation… The fight shouldn’t be about domestic or foreign ownership; the fight should be about ownership full stop.” [Read more...]
By Mike Kay and Jared Phillips
Around 200 activists from the Mana movement gathered for its AGM hui at Mataikotare Marae on the shores of Lake Rotorua over the weekend of 24-25 March. The programme, including speeches, debates, practical workshops and waiata showed Mana to be a vibrant and maturing movement.
The event opened with guest speakers, the most inspiring being Dayle Takitimu of Te Whanau-a-Apanui. She focused on the struggle against oil exploration by petroleum giants in the Ruakumara Basin, but in the process delivered broadsides on a number of wider issues.
Te Whanau-a-Apanui are “tangaroa people,” explained Takitimu. The iwi was determined to uphold “te mana o te whenua – mana of the whenua; not mana over the whenua, as some iwi leaders would have it.” Speaking of the draconian Search and Surveillance Act, Takitimu described it as “the coloniser inside our living room.” She detailed her iwi’s continual struggle against the Crown, drawing applause for her observation that “it’s no coincidence that Parliament is shaped like a beehive – the role of bees is to protect their queen.” [Read more...]
Mana held Tai Tokerau for Hone Harawira and achieved 1% of the party vote, a respectable outcome, considering that the movement was launched just seven months ago, with bugger all money, and that the Labour and Māori Parties colluded to try and strangle it at birth. Mana won 12.7% of the Māori votes, and gained more votes than the ACT Party. The campaign that we ran was a refreshing display of left wing unity between Tino Rangatiritanga activists, Workers Party, Socialist Aotearoa, Socialist Worker, ISO and others. Mana is on the map.
But Mana was unlikely to repeat the success of the Māori Party when it was launched in 2004. For a start, there was no hikoi this time, and of course, Mana did not have the backing of the Brown Table. Mana also failed to make a real breakthrough into the Pasefika and working class Pākehā communities, perhaps because it was perceived to be a party exclusively for tangata whenua, like the Māori Party.
Mike Kay, Workers Party Auckland and Mana Te Raki Paewhenua (North Shore) branch
Following Hone Harawira’s election victory, Mana convened a foundation hui of activists in Whangarei on 26 June. I will summarise the proceedings of the hui conducted in English below, followed by an assessment of the bye-election, and a political appraisal of the prospects for Mana.
In Whangarei Matt McCarten set the tone by stating: “We did not just win a bye-election, we changed the nature of politics. There’s a lot of people out there who are not sure what they want, but they know what they don’t want. The entire political elite and establishment were against us – there were four anti-Hone editorials in the Herald. We represent danger because we cannot be bought.”
Annette Sykes described Mana as “a Kaupapa Māori party that transcends race, whanau and hapū… also a party of the workers.” She said Mana should work with unions and left activists. On Te Tiriti, she proposed abolition of the 2014 deadline for settlements and opposed the Crown “deciding who our leaders are.” On environmental issues, she opposed the Emissions Trading Scheme on the basis that it does not make the polluters pay. In Education, she proposed that Te Reo become a compulsory language. She talked of the need for Mana to embrace Pākehā as well, and oppose neo-liberal policies that “put profit before people, bankers before workers and privatisation before the Treaty.” [Read more...]
Annette Sykes, a prominent lawyer and figure in the new Mana Party, spoke at the Workers Party conference in Hamilton earlier this month.
By Mike Kay (Workers Party, Auckland, and editorial board of The Spark)
The meeting hall at Mahurehure Marae in Auckland was packed to overflowing with activists keen to hear Hone Harawira launch the new Mana Party yesterday. The first approximately 1 1/2 hours of the meeting consisted of pōwhiri and speeches in te reo Māori. The following account describes the speeches in English that followed.
The hui opened with CTU Vice-President Māori Syd Keepa plainly stating: “Māori are poor,” and went on to highlight the need to speak out for Māori and the working class. He was followed by Professor Margret Mutu, who described Harawira as the only Te Tai Tokerau MP to have helped Ngāti Kahu, having given support to the occupation of Maheatai/ Taipa Pt. She also praised his support for those arrested in the October 15, 2007 police raids, and spoke of the need for a party to “protect us from the worst excesses of the rabid racism of Parliament.”
John Minto commented that much of the audience resembled a reunion of the 30th anniversary of the anti-Springbock tour movement. He said that while other Māori Party MPs had “melted into the warm embrace of John Key and the National party,” Hone Harawira was “a really good rock to build a new party on.” Miriama Pitama raised the call for a “movement of resistance.” Speaking of Harawira’s former colleagues, she said that it was clear that “the people are not with the Māori Party.”
Veronica Tawhai said “the system is not designed for Māori. Rangatahi [youth] don’t vote, because they can’t see the point… we need someone who will stand up in Parliament and say: ‘we do not recognise the sovereignty of this whare over Māori lives.’”
Former Green MP Nandor Tanczos described the Labour/ National duopoly of NZ politics as a choice between “tweedledum and tweedledumber,” with the small parties functioning merely as “clip-ons”. He talked of the need to change the system itself, with Mana potentially opening up a “third space” for a coalition of radical Māori, green and left parties. He also struck a note of caution that “you can’t just build a movement around the leadership of one person.”
Tanczos said it would be a “tradgedy” if the Mana and Māori Parties went to war with each other, adding that the new party represented a diversification of representation for Māori, in the same way that you would not expect all pākehā to be represented by a single party.
Te Tai Tokerau Electorate Chair Lisa McNabb emphasised how poverty, increases to GST and the cost of living had impacted on communities in the Far North. Annette Sykes observed the shift in mood since the Canterbury earthquake from an initial feeling of collective responsibility to help those afflicted, which more recently has retreated to an individualistic reaction against the better off having to pay a larger share of the rebuild. Sykes lamented that this creeping individualism had also affected Kaupapa Māori, and that Māori needed to reassert their belief in the collective.
Sykes drew comparisons between Harawira and Michael Savage (who established the welfare state due to his “love of the nation”) and Norman Kirk (whose government was supported by Pat Hohepa and Matiu Rata). She talked of the need to reclaim Aotearoa from “foreign ownership and privatisation.”
Hone Harawira opened his speech by saying Mana would “reject the politics of fear – and reject the politics of compromise… we deserve better than weak and accommodating leadership.” He referenced both the 1835 Declaration of Independence as well as the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi as principles to be affirmed. He insisted that Te Reo should be in the hands of the people, not bureaucracies and government departments.
He denounced the government for “driving people into poverty and penalising them for being poor.” He also criticised spending such as “$36 million being wasted on this bloody yacht race in San Francisco,” saying the money would be better spent on “emergency heating in the poorest suburbs of Christchurch that have been forgotten.”
Harawira talked of the need to stop the sale of state assets and provide people with affordable food, shelter and power – “simple shit,” as he put it. He affirmed the right to a “decent day’s pay for a decent day’s work”, and the need to “overturn the 90 days slave labour law.” Addressing unionists who were “still stuck on Labour,” he reminded them that union membership went down over the period of the last Labour-led government.
Harawira proposed a 1% financial transactions tax, or “Hone Heke Tax”, that would “chop down GST.” He stated the most important aim of the movement was to “reclaim the mana of our people” – not just Māori, but workers and “our Pacific Island cousins, who continue to be brought over here as cheap labour to be exploited and sent home at the end of the season.” He announced his intention to call a by-election in Te Tai Tokerau, to seek a mandate for the Mana Party, so that he may return to Parliament as its first MP.
Matt McCarten wrapped up the hui by commenting that “the right wing had unfinished business from Rogenomics,” and that it was “the people in this room that will lead the fight against it,” concluding that “after 35 years of trying, for the first time I feel we’re finally getting it right.” He encouraged the audience to sign up with Mana so that it could become a registered party. When the meeting ended, they did so in droves.