Mana in the election

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.

State Assets

There were also political weaknesses. Some of the contradictions within Mana were evident from its statements on the question of asset sales. It was a priority campaign for Labour who painted the issues in not-so-subtly nationalistic terms. “Grow our economy, not someone else’s” was Labour’s slogan – as if “we” all have the same interests in the New Zealand economy, whether beneficiary or billionaire!

Mana’s position was variable. In some instances, candidates talked about assets that “we” currently own. Well, they are owned by the state. But who “owns” the state? The reality is that the working class currently has little control over State Owned Enterprises, as evidenced by spiralling household energy costs.

In a press release, Mana candidate John Minto called for New Zealand government accounts to be shifted from “Australian-owned” Westpac to Kiwibank by posing the proposition: “What about some national economic pride in New Zealand?” Comrade Minto does his own long and proud record as an internationalist a disservice with such a comment. It also contradicts another of Comrade Minto’s statements, where he described Mana as being the “smallest party with the biggest ambitions.”

On the other hand, at a candidates’ meeting in Devonport, Harawira delivered a solid case against assets sales with the statement: “If assets are in private hands, whether foreign or New Zealand owned, they only care about three things – (1) profit, (2) profit and (3) profit.”

We in Mana need to be sharp on economic nationalism if we want to grow beyond 1% of the party vote. After all, if our policies are presented as a pale imitation of New Zealand First, we can hardly be surprised if voters end up going for the real deal instead.

Next Steps

Mana held a national hui in South Auckland on 4 December, where Matt McCarten stepped down from the presidency of the movement, and Annette Sykes was elected as his interim replacement. Sykes declared Mana to be “the first vanguard of resistance” to the austerity of the global recession. “We are a movement to be reckoned with, and we will change the world.” She compared Harawira to Labour’s Norman Kirk and Mana Motuhake’s Matiu Rata. She spoke of the tricky relationship between kaupapa Māori issues and class issues in terms of winning the party vote, adding “we have the intellectual and practical strength to deal with it.”

Harawira said Mana should now “kill off the Māori Party”, and acknowledged that more work needed to be done in reaching out to Pasefika especially: “We must take up the overstayers’ amnesty seriously.”

Workers Party has raised a proposal for Mana to develop a programme of political eduction for its activists, encompassing topics such as political economy, imperialism/ colonialism, and Treaty/ constitutional issues, as well as practical elements such as running a successful campaign and public speaking. If Mana is to emulate the spectacular success scored by the Greens in this election, the party vote will be crucial. And the party vote is ideological. Mana needs to clearly define and articulate its political ideas, vision and programme. The first step towards doing that is discussion and debate within the membership.

And as class war returns under a second term National-led government, Mana must be at the forefront of every progressive struggle. Mana’s positive orientation to the CMP lockout and the anti-eviction campaigns of state housing tenants in places like Glenn Innes, point to the way ahead.


  1. Update: with the special votes counted, Mana beat ACT by 279 votes.

    • The article says: “Mana won 40% of the Māori votes, and gained more votes than the ACT Party.” They may have gained more votes than the ACT party but they certainly didn’t get 40% of the Maori vote. Both Labour and the Maori Party got more votes in the Maori electorates overall. Indeed, even in the Maori seats, the Mana Party vote was much less than 40%.

      Moreover, a very large minority of Maori voters choose to vote in the general seats, where Mana did very poorly and only got 6-7,000 votes, some of which were non-Maori. So we can work out that the percentage of Maori voters in general seats who voted Mana was very small.

      While it’s impossible to work out exactly what proportion of Maori votes the Mana Party got, because we don’t know which voters in the general roll seats were Maori, we can see that their vote was massively less than 40% of Maori votes.


      • yes this was a mistake and has been corrected, it was closer to four-teen than four-ty, 12.7% of those on the Maori roll to be exact

      • How did you get that 40%? Was it a dodgy source? Not trolling, just curious.

      • Its from a Mana meeting after the election- probably a misheard “14%” maybe thats what it was before the special votes were counted

  2. Thats very kewl…..MANA kickin’ ACT ass by 279 votes, keeping in mind that MANA established itself, created a profile in a short 7 months within the households and on the streets of New Zealand. That has to be unprecedented for sure. The importance is that MANA is on the map and they will only grow in strength.

    Of course National and the Maori Party (who have become the maori translation service to national) will be set to stamp out anything good MANA will have to offer to the nation, even it will benefit the nation, and YES this means dirty politics. Lets all be atuned to the fact that the right wingers are out to get MANA and Hone Harawira. If we thought we had a struggle on our hands, whats going to come in the next three years is going to be ultra dirty…….

    The proposal of a political education programme is a must. I agree there is a tricky relationship that needs to be seriously and thoroughly discussed in terms of kaupapa Maori issues and class issues. This is where the education programmes will come into play in a need to be able to address the issues. In particular I think the issue of kaupapa Maori or more specifically that MANA is Maori led and focused would seem to suggest that it is exclusive. So….what does this all mean for the average new zealander who has no understanding of kaupapa Maori/Tikanga, but that it means exclusively “Maori” therefore giving off the notion of ultimately “nationalistic” by nature. Fortunately kaupapa Maori/Tikanga by nature by those who would understand it is by no means “nationalistic” or exclusive.

  3. NZ Partisan says:

    Why is the workers party working with mana. We should be working with Alliance, Socialist Aoteraoa, Democrats for social change and other parties like that. Mana is a failed party and They will never become popular because it is maori based.

    • We do work with other socialist groups such as Socialist Aotearoa, the International Socialist Organisation and Socialist Workers Party – all of which also work with Mana. You claim the problem with Mana is that “it will never become popular,” however it certainly has deeper roots than the majority of strictly socialist groups. When the Workers Party stood on its own we didn’t break 3 digits.

      More to the point, orientation solely towards Pakeha is a doomed, reactionary strategy. Maori and Pacific Islanders are some of the most dispossessed by capitalism. Mana is not a solely Maori party, the top four on their list included two Pakeha leftists, the movement aims “to bring tino rangitaratanga to the poor and dispossessed.” Its more radical policies include the unrestricted right to strike.

      It is true that many Pakeha feel threatened by Maori radicalism, and that is something we’ll have to break to develop a truly revolutionary movement in this country. This raising of consciousness and building of solidarity is the main thing to gain from working with Mana.

  4. Ian wrote: “More to the point, orientation solely towards Pakeha is a doomed, reactionary strategy.”

    Ian, since no-one on the left advocates an orientation solely towards pakeha, this seems a very odd comment. In fact, the *dominant* tendency on the left is to politically adapt to Maori nationalism, including cultural nationalism, as if this was somehow the only, or most representative, form that Maori politics takes. Moreover, this has been the dominant tendency on the left for at least 25 years!

    Perhaps it would be more relevant to develop a critique of the actually dominant tendency, rather than polemicising against something which has virtually no purchase at all on the left these days.

    One starting point for such a relevant critique would be that the drawing of an equals sign between Maori and tino rangatiratanga politics itself indicates a lack of awareness about the wider Maori population. Large sections of Maori workers have little or no interest in nationalist, especially culturally nationalist, politics; many sections of the Maori middle class, and burgeoning bourgeoisie, however, do.

    45% of Maori are on the general roll, despite various publicly-funded campaigns to encourage movement to the Maori roll – there are no publicly-funded campaigns to encourage Maori onto the general roll. While there are many Maori workers on the Maori roll, my guess is that the Maori middle class is proportionately more likely to be on the Maori roll than Maori workers are and that the social composition of Maori on the general roll is proportionately more proletarian, despite the efforts of the emerging Maori business layers to get Maori workers to fall in behind them.

    In the meantime, you aren’t even able to answer NZ Partisan’s point about the inevitably limited appeal of Mana. Instead you side-step with a criticism of something that no-one on the left advocates anyway. You can’t deal with the fact that the big majority of workers will never be won to supporting tino rangatiratanga politics because those politics are simply not in their class interests.

    The Workers Party’s political shift towards tail-ending Mana and its parliamentary brand of tino rangatiratanga politics is another indication of a general rightward shift on the part of whatever remains of your organisation into the swamp left.

    It also indicates that when you try to escape objective reality – namely, the unfavourable conditions for building a revolutionary organisation – you simply attach yourself to whatever seems to be moving at the time, abandoning principle in the process and sinking deeper into the morass.

    Philip Ferguson

  5. Phil, I think your argument is based on a whole bunch of assumptions who’s correctness you take for granted.
    But really there’s no point discussing this with you. Your fall-back is that the WP is not engaged with objective reality and that we’re part of the swamp left. You’re as bad as Nick Kelly at efficiently burning your bridges and salting the ground they rested on.
    I think some of the points you make are important to engage with, but I don’t think you can be engaged over them.
    You’ve set up an argument that you’ve won, but you’re not convincing anyone of anything, except that this swamp label you keep hurling around willy nilly (it seems to have replaced Socialist Worker as a catch all) is actually most appropriate for yourself.
    P.S. Can you not use ‘Admin’ as a name? As you’re not an admin of the WP site and it just looks weird.

    • Philip Ferguson says:

      The reason Admin showed up was that I’m an Admin on wordpress on two sites. Unfortunately, if you are logged into either site and you post on another blog that is wordpress, it automatically comes up as admin. I’ve just discovered this, so will try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I’ve certainly no desire to be thought of as an Admin on the WP site. . .

      The rest of your post indicates that you are committed to tail-endist politics. If you really thought that a critique of TR is not convincing anyone of anything, I suspect you wouldn’t need to complain quite so much about it.

      Those politics have been around for several decades now. If they were ever going to generate any revolutionary formation it would have happened by now. Instead, the prime beneficiaries have been an emergent Maori middle class and a new Maori elite. Your dogmatic determination not to learn any lessons from *decades of this experience*, but to act as if the last thirty or so years hasn’t happened, is duly noted, however.


      • Seriously, you have the answers and we’re just not getting them. There isn’t a constructive discussion to be had here, we either agree that you’re right or you accuse us of living in Shrek’s swamp and/or moving rightwards.

  6. Philip Ferguson says:

    Ian, of course Mana is Maori-based. That’s just a simple fact. Noting it hardly means advocating an exclusively pakeha orientation. In fact, since Mana has fairly limited appeal among Maori, it is quite false for you to suggest that rejecting an orientation towards Mana means advocating some kind of pakeha-only orientation. In fact, I’d say that anyone who is serious about relating to the mass of Maori workers will not find those workers in a Maori-based party.

    While Byron’s correction to the article has improved things, it’s still a mistake. Mana did not get 12.7% of the Maori vote as the article now says, but 12.7% of the vote in the Maori seats. Given that about 45% of Maori are on the general roll and that Mana only got noticeably fewer votes in the general roll seats, even if the vast bulk of those votes were Maori, this would only add up to a few % of Maori votes on the general roll. So the actual Mana vote as a % of the total Maori vote is likely to be less than 10%.

    Say they got 4-5% of the Maori vote in general seats (and they couldn’t have gotten more than that, because we know what their total party vote was) and 12.7% in Maori seats; their total Maori vote would be just over halfway between those two (given there are more Maori on the Maori roll than general roll). I’d say their actual share of the Maori vote would probably have been about 8-9%, max.

    The reality is that the support base for a tino rangatiratanga party is fairly limited among Maori, let alone the wider working class. It’s just a dead-end, although one that sections of the far left seem determined to go down again and again and again. . .

    (Funnily enough, Winston Peters was massively more successful than Mana and the Maori Party combined, when he ran Winston First in the Maori seats on an anti-TR platform in 1996 and not only captured all the Maori seats but captured the party vote in all but one of them as well. There’d be a lesson there for the left. . . but the left seems to prefer sticking their head in the sand over TR politics.)


    • Are you really defending a comment that preferences Social Credit over TR?

      • Philip Ferguson says:

        Not sure how you would reach such a conclusion from what I *actually* posted. You’ve simply avoided responding to the political points. But good luck with Mana and Occupy. You go for it! I’ve no desire to prevent your rush headlong into the mire.


  7. Much of this debate isn’t worth having because Phil fails to acknowledge, and perhaps does not realise, that some forces of Maori agency (intellectual, legal, political, electoral) etc have used Mana as a vehicle to break away from cross-class, classless, and pro-ruling class politics. That’s a premise that we would need to converge or before having a debate.

    At the end of the bi-election, in a previous rant about us being tail-enders, Phil said our role would be confined to making cups of tea. In fact our people took up various responsibilites and in some cases were elected to them.

    It is totally bizzarre that Phil accuses us of tail-endism in the comments section of an article in which we have done the opposite of tail-endism by pointing out what we believe to be some of the political flaws in one of the leaders of the party.

    What did your own associates in Auckland do to not ‘tail-end’ John Minto? Be interested to hear? Maybe we could learn from it?

    Just to end, I think your ‘Whatever’s left of the WP’ snide remark is quite interesting given that since you started Redline blog you have lost more ‘contributors’ than we have lost active members engaged in branch work and various social struggles.

    Have you lost more contributors than we have members because of this terrible awfull political downturn?

    Must be, like it’s the answer to everything else??

    Actually, in total we have gained membership in that time while you have lost ‘contributors’ and have a fake name listed as a contributor. While WP obviously isn’t big, you talk as if your departure from party-building has led you to come off better and in some sort of position to make snide inaccurate remarks with wrong implications, so thought I should mention this.

    Cheers, Jared.

  8. Philip Ferguson says:

    This is absolutely bizarre, Jared. One person involved in Redline has dropped out of politics, although it’s possible he may contribute some material in the future. In the same time since we left in February you have basically lost your Christchurch branch! (I won’t bother to say anything about your fictitious Dunedin branch. . .) There are now more of us than there were in February and less of you folk. Moreover, since you are claiming to be building a revolutionary organisation, and we aren’t, your decline is a problem for you and perhaps explains the degree of your antagonism.

    However, trading these kinds of comments with you is hardly productive.

    I think your comments about Mana being used as a vehicle for advancing some sort of class-struggle politics is just a fantasy, like the Occupy NZ stuff. Those of us who have seen it all before, several times over, won’t be joining you down that cul-de-sac, but you go for it; I wish you well with it.


  9. A) Anyone who reads Mana’s policy and thinks it is not putting forward a pro-class struggle perspective is totally deluded.

    B) You lost Jill then Tim as listed contributors. Others on yr list are either fictitious, haven’t contributed to your nice blog, have contributed once or haven’t participated in capes
    Politics in Nz for years. Good show.

    C) not sure why you claim we have a Dunedine branch we clearly don’t. Christchurch has been heavily hampered by events and personal circumstances. I am not happy that one of our members in that city resigned from our group and joined your blog.

    D) My reason for posting is not as you suggest, rather that you are using your expertise in distortion by implication.

    Lastly, still interested to hear how your two Auckland contributors didnt ‘tail-end’ John Minto’s campaign. Or is there some exception from your bluster available to yr selected associates?


  10. *class politics* not *cape politics*, using iPhone

  11. Tracey-lee says:

    I find it interesting that those like Phil will decide to use the MANA movement as a way to critique none other than his insecurities around all people standing up to proclaim liberation for communities who combat poverty everyday. Personally I have had dealings with all the groups in MANA and I have found it a proud occasion to stand side by side with comrades from the unions, socialist groups, working party groups to move a movement that on the outside to the uneducated or misinformed, was deemed a failure as their analysis all though holds some merit has holes…and totally misses the point.

    Phil you say the tino rangatiratanga factor may not appeal to the majority of maori voters and is “limited” that may well be as traditionally they have always backed labour or national prior to the coming of the Maori party, but that perception was changed when Maori party won a great portion of Maori seats in 2005 and grew stronger in 2008. It showed Maori were sick of confiscation legislation.

    Maori nationalism 25 years…interesting point, if you knew much about Maori then you would know, Maori vote based on their leadership in iwi, if their whanaunga (relative) is leading they will support them regardless of their policies, its a tribal preference, it has nothing to do with nationalism but rather more to do with who they feel they cant trust to represent their tribal needs, something general voters (non maori) wouldn’t know much about because you don’t operate under these structures. Analyse Maori politicians dating back to the 1800’s to now (Hone Ngapuha, Matiu Rata, Parekura Horomia, Nanaia Mahuta, Hone Harawira).

    Maori party did relatively better than MANA in the polls obviously the %’s reflect this BUT they lost ground too, if Maori didn’t vote for either party, they just didn’t vote. I will be optimistic to say that this will all change in 3 years time with a bit of education and information.

    I agree with Mike, the whip is in the party vote, clearly defining the parties policies for all, the clarity around what MANA stands for and the greater need for all NZ’ers to understand that a Maori kaupapa based party does not equate to a MAORI only party but reaches out to all marginalised, working poor and the poverish, it just so happens that Maori represent largely in these categories due to colonisation and its history but these numbers are being matched by non maori and only about to get worse with the welfare reforms (see Rebstock Report) National will impose and the debate around the current Food bill…hipocrisy at its finest.

    Its a time for rebuilding a NZ future for all as Martyn Bradbury would say, “it’s time for the sleepy hobbits to wake up”, a joint effort with a unified response regardless of culture or creed will strengthen all people. I look forward to see what this party has to offer me and my children for the future and I am estatic with the fact that it was founded by Maori BUT driven by all New Zealanders…this is the key to unified LIBERATION.

    • Alan Armstrong says:

      Tracey-Lee is closer to the truth than most of you who seem to think MANA is left-wing. I’m Maori, I’m a strong supporter of MANA and a campaign worker, and I’m anything but left-wing. We do have a few socialists integrated into our team but they don’t call the shots – Maori tikanga always comes first. What’s different about MANA? Our policy is bottom-up instead of top-down so we fight for what our rank-and-file regard as important and never mind anyone else’s doctrine. Essentially anything Maori need for fair-and-equal treatment. The sale of State assets has much less impact on Maori than fairer taxation so never mind that National and Labour pretend it’s a pressing issue – we have more important ones like child poverty much closer to home, and we’re better judges of what Maori need than political theoreticians who know very little about Maori. I cringe when I hear the media say Maori want “sovereignty.” It’s only radical activists who mean that when they talk about tino rangatiratanga. The rest of us use the term to mean the right to be ourselves with equal opportunity to do things our own way and not be regulated out of existence by a nanny state. I don’t care who’s running the country as long as we have that.

      I’m happy that socialist aims match ours closely enough that we have their support, but the people I know in MANA are as different from socialists as accountants are from doctors.

      • We’re not claiming Mana is (strictly) socialist. But we’re with you on the allegiance with rank-and-file concerns, which I note is fairly inclusive given the outreach to Pasifika and other groups.

  12. Kia ora Alan – going with your analogy, I would say that accountants are not so different from doctors, in the sense that they both occupy the same class (professionals). Similarly, Socialists identify the working class as the agent of change, while MANA people with a Tino Rangatiritanga background talk about te pani me te rawakore, the poor and the dispossessed.

    As Tracey-lee says, we are just at the beginning of this journey together, trying to find the points of agreement and disagreement, while uniting in common action. I think we need more discussion on the interplay of class and Māori oppression/ liberation.

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