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Flavell and Harawira on The Nation

Lisa Owen interviews Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell and Mana leader Hone Harawira

Headlines:

Hone Harawira says realistically his Mana Party can take three Maori seats, Te Ururoa Flavell sticks to prediction that Maori Party will win all seven.

Harawira says if Internet-Mana hits 5 percent in the polls, “I absolutely guarantee you I’ll be getting a call from David Cunliffe” despite the Labour leader saying previously it’s unlikely that his party would be part of a Labour-led coalition.

Flavell says some Maori Party candidates are having to drawn down on their mortgages to pay "large amounts" for their own campaigns.

Harawira won't say how much of Dotcom money going into Maori seats; he and wife paid for the Mana bus and says his party "don't have the money"

Flavell says his party's main policy difference with Mana is Whanua Ora, and he’s "not worried" by this week’s audit raising concerns.

Harawira says Whanau Ora won’t survive Tariana Turia’s departure as an MP and it has failed to get traction in Maori communities.

Says Mana has repeatedly approached Maori Party and would be willing to stand aside as leader but every time the door has been “slammed in our face”

Flavell says differences not about personalities but “a difference of approach”

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Lisa Owen: Welcome back. So, we’ve seen just how robustly the Maori seats will be contested, but what about the parties, the policies? Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell and Mana leader Hone Harawira are both here in the studio for their first-ever TV debate. Tena koe, e Hone.
Hone Harawira: Kia ora.
And korero ko Te Ururoa.
Te Ururoa Flavell: Tena koe.
Me nga mihi mo te wiki o te reo.
Flavell: Ka pai. Ka pai.
Harawira: Tena koe.
And I’m going to come to you first, Mr Flavell. How many electorates do you think the Mana Party is going to win?
Flavell: The Mana Party?
The Mana Party. How many do you think that they’re gonna take?
Flavell: Well, I can’t talk for them. I can talk for the Maori Party and say that our goal is to win all seven Maori seats. That’s what we’re after. We’ve got a group of people absolutely committed. There must be, cos some of them are paying for their whole campaign – pretty much most of them are – and that, in the end, is probably the maximum that we could do at the moment. Although we are standing candidates in the general seats.
You think you’re gonna beat Hone Harawira and even Kelvin Davis in Te Tai Tokerau?
Flavell: Of course we do. If our people didn’t believe that we were gonna win those seats, then they wouldn’t be putting up large amounts of money for the campaign that they have to run by themselves. I mean, we’ve got people who are paying out of mortgages for houses. They have to fund their own campaign. So those people don’t enter that lightly.
We’ll come back to that. I just wanna bring Hone in on the conversation here. Mr Harawira, is he being realistic? Seven seats he says they’re gonna take.
Harawira: I wish them well. Mana will be standing candidates in all seven Maori seats as well. But realistically, we’re aiming to try to win three, probably, yeah.
Specifically?
Harawira: Tai Tokerau, Waiariki and Ikaroa-Rawhiti. That’s where our focus will be, although we’ll be standing in all seven.
And are you willing to do a deal with Labour?
Harawira: Politics is also—
Are you willing to do a deal with Labour, Mr Harawira, to make that happen?
Harawira: Politics is also about the pragmatic. We don’t have the money. We don’t have the resources to stand in all of those seats and do extremely well, so we’re gonna focus on trying to win the ones we think we can.
And if it’s all about pragmatism, are you willing to do a deal with Labour to ensure those seats?
Harawira: In election year, you focus on what it is that you can do. We would sincerely hope that Labour and the Greens rebuild their brand, go after their voters and leave Internet-Mana to focus on getting in the new voters. Our focus is gonna be primarily on winning new voters to the game and ensuring that we can get a really good result for Internet-Mana.
Mr Flavell, you’re obviously asking people to choose the Maori Party over Mana. So what are you offering that’s different in terms of policy different from these guys?
Flavell: We’ve set the scene about where we want to be, and it’s no secret. Whanau Ora is at the heart of where we want to be. We believe that rather than just talk about a policy on education or on health separately, actually the focus should be on families, on Whanau Ora. ‘Whanau Ora’ means families that are well and how they live; that they’re warm; that they’re secure; that they have jobs; that they are well educated; they have the same opportunities as everybody else, if not more. So our whole focus has been on Whanau Ora, and it’s not gonna change. I mean, it’s been signalled by Tariana right from the very start. We’ve already got three commissioning agencies up and running. There’s $134 million that were set aside 2010, when this was launched, now up to $164 million that’s being pumped in.
You hold that up as an example of achievement, but even this week, there was audit information that was released that raised some serious concerns there that said funding was inconsistent, sometimes unsubstantiated. And it had the risk of bringing the whole programme into disrepute. So are you not worried it’s not performing?
Flavell: No, I’m not worried, because the Whanau Ora programme has been through umpteen pieces of audit, umpteen pieces of elements of scrutiny, and it’s proven its point – that it has affected thousands and thousands of families throughout this country. And in fact, it has been, even according to the government, a life-changer for thousands of families in this country.
Hone Harawira, is he right? Or does Whanau Ora need to be replaced with something else? And what would that be?
Harawira: Whanau Ora’s a wonderful idea – no question about that. But it won’t survive Tariana’s departure. National funded it to fail. It was budgeted at $1 billion. It got $135 million, so it never got the money to get up and going properly. Number two – it’s been through so many changes. It’s been through a four-year, five-year gestation period, and the biggest commissioning agency, after five years, was only launched this month. I mean, it won’t survive because it hasn’t got traction even within Maori communities. The reality is that 99.9% of Maoridom either don’t know what Whanau Ora is or used to know, but the rules have changed so many times, they’ve forgotten what it is. And the rest of them are still waiting to find out what it is.
You’ve always been quite critical of the Maori Party’s relationship with National.
Harawira: That’s right.
But the reality here is that they’ve secured $3 billion worth of funding over five or six years for initatives that they’ve pushed – rheumatic fever prevention, free doctors’ visits for under-13. They’ve even managed to keep the Maori seats inside a National government. So they wouldn’t have been able to do that if they weren’t at the table with National, wouldn’t they?
Harawira: I think you have to take a dose of reality when you talk about $3 billion, and that reality is this – in 2008, there were 175,000 children in this country living below the poverty line. In 2014, that number has skyrocketed to 285,000 and climbing. Maori health is poorer today than it was in 2008. Homelessness has increased. The gap in achievement in education between Maori and Pakeha has widened.
Mr Flavell, he’s right, isn’t he? He’s right, isn’t he? The big picture things, they haven’t changed. Unemployment’s up under your watch – 9.6% to 13%. One in three Maori children are in the poverty statistics. Income for Maori has slipped. So, for all your talk about being at the table, that big picture hasn't improved, has it?
Flavell: The big picture is this — there will always ever be two major parties in this country, National and Labour. MMP demands that neither of them— Well, first point is, if you vote for one or the other, you're gonna be right half the time. Second point is that there will be smaller, minor parties that will have a hand in forming the government. And we've been a part of that picture, supporting only the Budget, only the Budget. And everything else — we've had the ability to vote one way or the other. So we're talking about making people's lives— changes to people's lives. I can tell you that there's been over 200— Sorry, 30,000 houses have be insulated because of initiatives provided by the Maori Party. The issues with respect to health, we've been able to allow—
Yeah, but that's the Greens, isn't it?
Flavell: No, no, no. No way. No way. The Maori Party initiated that. Similarly, with the issue around education initiatives, Tataiako, history in schools, KickStart breakfast. That was all initiated by the Maori Party. Similarly, in health area, we've got an ability now that children up to the age of 13 are able to go to the doctor free and get medicine. Now, look, three of us versus 59 of the majority party ain't gonna change the rule. We've acknowleged that. We have been able to make significant changes by way of policies at the grass-roots level and even at the international level.
Three of you, you say. But if you two were able to still be mates, you could have more people in Parliament. Despite your differences, you actually have a lot in common.
Both of you would like to get rid of GST; you want a significant amount of income to be tax free, up to $27,000 in terms of Mana; you both wanna raise the minimum wage. Isn't the problem, Hone, that you guys have got a bit of a personality clash? Is that an issue?
Harawira: No, it hasn't been for me. The night I won the Mana by-election in 2011, my very first interview was with Te Kaea, and I said then, 'My door is open to any discussion with the Maori Party about Mana Maori coming together.' We have asked for that time and time and time again. And on every occasion, it's been slammed— that door's been slammed in our face, so—
You called Te Ururoa Flavell a guy who follows, not a leader, a person who takes instruction and doesn't make decisions. That's not opening the door, really, is it?
Harawira: Well, look, the door was always open. I mean, I also made the statement that if it was agreed that we'd come together, I'd be happy to stand down. I would hope that Te Ururoa would be as well. It's not about me saying, 'I should be the leader,' or Te Ururoa saying that. It's about our people making that decision. But we never got that opportunity. But if we come back to some of the things Te Ururoa was saying there before—
I just wanna ask Te Ururoa what he thinks about that. That sounds like an olive branch. Could you guys work together?
Flavell: We've already signalled by way of a number of votes that we're prepared to support Hone's programme to the feed the kids. The difference— And here's probably the difference... that in our case, we've done it. We've instigated the KickStart programme that has been available to schools throughout this country. About 730 of them have currently, right now, got KickStart breakfast programme in the schools, about 25,000 children.
There's the difference. We've got a difference of approach. And this is, I suppose, where we fit.
You could work in a coalition if Mana was at the table?
Flavell: We don't do coalitions. What we've done is got a relationship accord with the National Party that allows us to vote for the Budget.
Yeah, but—
Flavell: Hold on.
But part of a wider government— That's semantics. As part of a wider government, if Mana is at the table, can you guys work well together, or do you think you have a personality issue going on here?
Flavell: It's not about personality. It's a difference of approach.
In one sense, the Maori Party has said that we will work productively to provide a relationship accord with one of the major parties, National or Labour. We say National probably would like us to stay there. We suspect that Labour would probably want us as well.
The difference is at this point in time, Hone can't work with National; National can't work with Hone; seems like Labour can't work with Hone, if Hone can work with Labour. There's the difference about the ability to make change. It's all— You know, we can talk about it. The difference for us, from our perspective at least is that we've done the work, we've done the hard yards. We've shown that we bring a common sense approach. We can protect Maori rights, but we can also advance Maori interests.
Let's bring Hone back into the conversation. Labour does seem to be kinda backing away from you guys a bit. Does it really wanna work with you?
Harawira: I think although David Cunliffe has said that it's unlikely that Internet-Mana would be offered a Cabinet post in a Labour-led government, the reality is that if, as John Armstrong, the senior political columnist for The New Zealand Herald, said, 'Internet-Mana hits 5%,' and he's expecting that to happen before the campaign proper starts, then I absolutely guarantee you I'll be getting a call from David Cunliffe.
But our focus in this election isn't so much about trying to make buddies with everybody. It's about getting our new voters, encouraging rangatahi to come back. and encouraging those people who have gotten hoha with voting to come back. And I think— You know, Lisa. You would have seem the reports of the launch of our party campaign in Taitokerau. Packed halls, great exuberance, great support for—
And campaigning, part of campaigning is money. You raised, Te Ururoa, the fact that people are going into debt to pay for their campaigns. How's your war chest looking?
Flavell: Oh, Waiariki— Are you talking about Waiariki?
I'm talking generally — the whole Maori Party campaign.
Flavell: We're gonna get through, cos that's what we've always done. We definitely don't lack passion. We—
But are people, as you say— Are people actually getting mortgages and what have you to pay?
Flavell: They're certainly having to cough up for their own campaigns. That's generally the gist of it. I've been lucky, because I've been a sitting member and have had a good campaign team in Waiariki who have been out to secure resources enough, at least to make sure that I cover what I need to cover.
Not a huge war chest, but it's enough to get us through. You know, the thing that's always driven the Maori Party has been passion, not money.
OK, well, Mr Harawira, you just said before that you don't have that much money. Come on. Dotcom's on board. How much of that $3.2 million is going into winning the Maori seats?
Harawira: One of the things that I think you already know, Lisa, is that in every electorate campaign, we're focusing on our electorates. You can only spend $25,000.
On advertising, but he can spend that money on travel, getting you places—
Harawira: And then you showed the Mana bus, which we actually paid for, my wife and I. We paid for it ourselves. Those sorts of things are completely immaterial to the process. The fact is you can only spend $25,000 on an electorate campaign. Now, I've raised mine, Annette's raised hers, and Te Hamua's raised his.
So you can't tell me how much is going into it from Dotcom's money?
Harawira: Look, that's not about the money. It's about— And I said that in the previous interview in the lead-up to this, which is this: all the money in the world isn't going to save you if you don't have the people on your side. Mana is showing clearly, and you've seen it on the news yourself, that hundreds and hundreds of people are coming to our campaign meetings at times when no other party can even half fill a hall.
It's going to be an interesting fight. Thank you very much for joining me this morning, Hone Harawira and Te Ururoa Flavell.
Transcript provided by Able.
www.able.co.nz

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