In the wake of this years’ electoral defeat, the MANA Movement is regrouping. On November 29th, Fightback members attended a Members’ Hui in Tāmaki/Auckland, with around 70 attending from around the country.
‘Back to the community’ was the overwhelming mood of the hui, with leaders outlining the formation of community hubs in Te Tai Tokerau and in Tūranga Gisborne.
The hui agreed to support MANA involvement in the upcoming State Housing Crisis National Hui, to be held in Auckland on February 21, 2015, and to support the organisation of a national educational conference later next year.
Hilda Halkyard-Harawira reported on her involvement in the recent electoral recount in Te Tai Tokerau, and the disenfranchisement faced by many Maori. Atleast 900 votes were discounted, for reasons as simple as voters moving house. Gerard Hehir, outgoing MANA National Secretary, noted that electoral reform is not in the government’s interests, so this requires a wider political struggle not just a campaign for enrolment.
To applause, Hilda Halkyard-Harawira also underlined the recent Waitangi Tribunal finding that Ngāpuhi – the Harawiras’ iwi – never ceded sovereignty. Participants acknowledged that the Tribunal’s finding was not news, and (again) that power cedes nothing without struggle. Fightback continues to critically support MANA because we maintain the importance of linking the struggle for tino rangatiratanga and the struggle for democratic socialism.
Call for Mana Wahine policy
After the election, the New Zealand Herald alleged that Hone Harawira hired sex offenders during his time in parliament. Although he chose not to engage media, Hone claimed at the recent hui that parliamentary services vet staff, and that the charges had not been laid when the men were hired. Regardless, the case poses a problem with ongoing significance; the challenge of dealing with sexual violence in the movement and society as a whole.
Kim Dotcom’s Moment of Truth event offered a platform to Julian Assange, who is facing questioning for sexual assault. Dotcom has his own record of sexist behaviour. These are only the most prominent cases; 1 in 3 women have experienced intimate partner violence. All too often, the ingrained instinct is to close ranks and protect abusers. Any movement for liberation must draw a clear line that gender violence will not be tolerated; you cannot have liberation without women’s liberation.
As Richard Pryor famously observed, when you go looking for justice, that’s what you find: just us. As demonstrated in the recent Roastbusters case, the same ‘justice system’ that locks up thousands of Māori men also protects sexual abusers – especially the sons of cops. John Tamihere and Willie Jackson, whose response to the Roastbusters case was unacceptable victim-blaming, nonetheless faced more consequences than the perpetrators. Whereas Tamihere and Jackson were stood down, the perpetrators and the cops got away scot-free. Worldwide, black and brown men are overwhelmingly scapegoated for sexism.
Combating racism and sexism requires prioritising Māori women’s leadership. Fightback has worked alongside other MANA members to propose a Mana Wahine policy for the movement, including the formation of a nationwide wahine caucus. MANA leadership must be accountable not to Pākehā journalists and courts, but to the wāhine toa who keep the flame alive in the movement.
At the recent hui, former MANA President and Waiariki candidate Annette Sykes endorsed and argued for the formation of a wahine policy and caucus. Sykes was a founding member of Rape Crisis in Rotorua, and is a continuing supporter of the Women’s Refuge movement. Fightback will continue to work within MANA to assert rangatiranga for te pani me te rawakore katoa.