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Speech: Harawira - Mana Party AGM

Address to MANA AGM

Sunday 14th April 2013

MANA Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau Hone Harawira


This is my favourite time of year. It is a time when I get to hear the best ideas from the best people in Aotearoa. It is a time that I remind myself why I am still an activist politician and it is a time when I recharge my batteries, ready to go into battle for those without a voice in Parliament. For that experience alone, I thank you.

I would also like to thank you for the countless hours of blood, sweat and tears that each and every one of you have given our party, MANA, and I want you to know that not a day goes by whereby I don’t give a thought to you, the movers and the shakers, of Aotearoa. You are the lifeblood of MANA and without you, this party would not exist.

Finally, my thanks to Andrew Paul and his team of dedicated organisers who have managed to pull off yet another successful MANA AGM. This AGM will be rightfully remembered for two things; firstly, for providing the launch pad of a successful campaign to feed very decile one and two kid throughout the country, and secondly, for ensuring that our party is properly prepared for an election year in 2014.

They say that a day is a long time in politics, they say that a week is a really long time in politics, and they say that a year in politics is a bloody eternity! So we are probably a year and several months away from the next election and there will be another AGM in between now and then. But I want to deliver a message to all of our members. Where we might be focussed and excited about our prospects at the 2014 elections, I want to remind people that the time between now and then also means that our people have to endure another year of pain and suffering at the hands of the current National, United Future, ACT and Maori Party Government.

Already our people are feeling the pressure; rising unemployment with no sign of well-paid jobs on the horizon, beneficiaries being punished for needing a helping hand by the biggest hypocritical Maori politician this country has ever seen, and homelessness going through the roof with no answer to increased rental prices or assistance for first home owners. And as much as I hate to say, this picture is only going to get worse. Second-in-charge of this country and the person responsible for the purse strings, Bill English, admitted in this year’s budget that our external debt is going to be worse than Greece! Have you seen what is happening in Greece? A national strike was organised, thousands of people have taken to the streets, and those people have told their government to go to hell.

Our government’s fixation on cutting debt is only going to mean one thing – that those who are poor and low and middle income earners in NZ are going to foot the bill. Bennett will cut thousands of people from the dole, Parata will merge and close more schools outside of Christchurch, Ryall will tell patients in hospitals to cook their own meals, and Sharples will be performing another haka in China.

Don’t be fooled into believing either that there is no money in the government’s coffers to help those who need it. Look at Parata’s severance fund to pay out all of the experts who can no longer work with her; that figure has no doubt gone past the million dollar mark and what about the millions of dollars we seem to shelling out to Talent 2, the provider of the failed Novopay system? My point is, there always seems to be money available somewhere within Government for when they stuff up – how about spending that money on things that count.

It is a question of priorities and this government has its priorities all back to front. And the man in charge of the whole operation, John Key, is asleep at the wheel. Instead of coming up with jobs and schemes that help those who need a helping hand, Key is too busy gallivanting off to China on a business trip and trying to start a war with North Korea. What kind of idiot declares that New Zealand would go to war against North Korea? Furthermore, is that his long term employment plan for hundreds of our Maori boys and girls in the armed forces? Maybe before he shoots his mouth off and offers our sons and daughters, he should consider whether he himself would be comfortable sending his own son and daughter to fight Kim Jung-un and Co.

Their partners in crime, the Maori Party, are in total disarray. I know that sitting in this room today are plenty of former Maori Party supporters and our branches continue to enrol disenfranchised Maori Party members throughout the country. It is with a tinge of sadness that I bear witness to the self-destruction of the Maori Party. Myself, along with thousands of our people, joined and fought for the Maori Party when our people said with one voice, we need a party that represents us. Nowadays the Maori Party paints a sad picture of its former self, while Te Ururoa remains hell-bent on not listening to Maori Party members who are telling him they want Pita as their leader and that they do not believe that he is up for the job. It was no secret that Te Ururoa secretly longed for the leadership not long after he was elected to Parliament and that his attempt to have me ousted from the Maori Party was part of his bigger plan to be at the helm. He was aided by Tariana Turia, who always called the shots behind the scenes and who despite now announcing her retirement, seems that she cannot retire gracefully without needing to control the party. Pita was always going to be in the firing line after I left and now it has come home to roost. The debacle of the Maori Party is a far cry from the heady heights of 2005 when our people flocked to join the party.

MANA is now well poised to do well in 2014 election. Behind the scenes, our strategists are working on MANA securing more than the seat of Te Tai Tokerau and I look forward to sitting next to other MANA MP’s who will fight the fight and offer solutions rather than obstacles. I am particularly excited over my sister, Annette Sykes, taking on Te Ururoa Flavell and winning the seat of Waiariki. Already our branches in Waiariki are strong and ready to contest the coming election in order for Annette to become an MP. We also have our eyes on more than Waiariki with the Maori seats and I can’t wait to hit the streets and tell voters how MANA will make a difference in their lives.

But as I warned earlier, there is still much water to flow under the bridge between now and then. MANA will continue to oppose abhorrent policies being promoted by this government and will try its level best to stem the tide against the people that make this country what it is. We have our Feed the Kids Bill, we are going to still protest against the stupid sale of Mighty River Power, and we are still going to tell our people that smoking is a certain death sentence.

My final message is this; what I ask each of you to do at the end of our AGM is to go back to your communities and build every branch. The more strong branches we have dotting our country, the better chance we have of picking up more votes at the 2014 election. Speak with your whanau, with your neighbours and with the community groups and networks you belong to. We need to build and to keep building on the road to the 2014 elections.

ENDS

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