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Q+A: Willie Jackson and Kelvin Davis

Q+A: Willie Jackson and Kelvin Davis interviewed by Corin Dann

Labour launch $20m Māori housing policy

Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis said it is “not good enough” that 14,000 Māori are homeless and 2500 Māori are on state-housing waiting lists.

Speaking on TVNZ 1’s Q+A programme Mr Davis told Corin Dann “we as Māori politicians just feel the weight and the burden of having to change this.”

“I don’t know if you noticed how cold it was last night, Corin. At 11 o'clock last night it was about 6 degrees. At 8 o'clock this morning it was 3 degrees. Now, you know, aren't we lucky and grateful that we are not sleeping in shop doorways and in garages and in cars with our kids?” he said.

“It is all part of our Kiwibuild policy. But we are having a specific Māori part to it. So like I say, we expect 17,000 Māori, based on our modelling, to take it up, plus the 2500 who are on the waiting list and 20,000 to 30,000. We are going to put $20 million into a fund to work with iwi and Māori housing providers.”

When asked about cutting a deal with the Greens Labour list candidate Willie Jackson said he’d like put the issue back on the table because “we might need a deal in a couple of seats, because the vote could split. Now, we don't want to put a National government back in, do we?”

However, Mr Davis had this to say “none of the Greens are going to win the Māori seats. So don't bother voting for the Greens.”


Q + A
Episode 1721
Interviewed by Corin Dann

CORIN Welcome back to Q+A, and I’ve got Labour list candidate Willie Jackson and Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis with me. Big campaign launch with Labour today. Kia ora to you both.

WILLIE Kia ora.

KELVIN Kia ora.

CORIN Willie Jackson, you are the man in charge of the strategy here. What is the strategy in the Maori seats? Are you going to sweep them all, are you?

WILLIE We are going to go close. We are going to go close. We are pretty confident we are going to get six back. And we know our young Tamati Coffey down there in the Waiariki is running a heck of a campaign.

CORIN Yeah, but Howie Tamati is ahead down in Te Tai Hauauru.

WILLIE Yeah, absolutely. No, don’t get me wrong - there is about three or four that are going to be quite tight. I mean, Kelvin has got a bit of a job there in the north. Auckland is going to be tight. Te Tai Hauauru is going to be tight. Because, you know, you have got Mana and the Maori Party, who have done a deal. So no, we are not taking anything for granted, of course. Of course. But everything tells us that the people are supporting our Maori MPs. They are sick and tired of this National Government. In fact, they are really tainted in the Maori seats. We have got to see that cross over in the General seats.

CORIN It’s interesting, isn’t it? It’s interesting, Kelvin, because Labour has done well in the Maori seats in recent years, but the party is not doing well. Why is there a difference? Well, why is Labour struggling, yet the Labour candidates are doing well in Maori seats.

KELVIN Well, we’re doing well because people like us and believe in us, and they like what we stand for, the party itself. Yeah, we have got work to do, there’s no doubt about it, to lift things up.

CORIN What are you guys doing that is resonating and for some reason, the rest of the party is not?

KELVIN I think people can see that we are out there, working really hard on the ground. And look, our Maori housing policy launch today out in Mangere, it was a good example of the thinking that we are doing. You know, I don’t know if you noticed how cold it was last night, Corin. At 11 o'clock last night it was about 6°. At 8 o'clock this morning it was 3°. Now, you know, aren't we lucky and grateful that we are not sleeping in shop doorways and in garages and in cars with our kids? You know, there are 14,000 homeless Maori. There is 2500 Maori on state-house waiting lists. We as Maori politicians just feel the weight and the burden of having to change this. Because it is not good enough. So that is why we are launching a policy today.

CORIN You can't change it, though, if you are not in government, though, can you?

WILLIE Well, that’s why there’s an election in eight weeks, right, Corin?

KELVIN But, you know, people want to know what we're doing. And, you know, we have developed a policy that we believe will house between 20,000 and 30,000 Maori. We have modelled this on census data from 2013 and Maori incomes. We believe that there will be 17,000 Maori that will be able to take up the scheme.

CORIN So a targeted housing policy.

KELVIN Correct.

CORIN What is that going to cost?

KELVIN It is all part of our Kiwibuild policy. But we are having a specific Maori part to it. So like I say, we expect 17,000 Maori, based on our modelling, to take it up, plus the 2500 who are on the waiting list and 20,000 to 30,000. We are going to put $20 million into a fund to work with iwi and Maori housing providers. The biggest blockage is finance for our people. So we want iwi, Maori housing providers to work to get mortgages and banks to work with them to get mortgages. We will guarantee the mortgage insurance through the Welcome Home loans that are already available now.

CORIN This is right across the country, is it?

KELVIN Right across the country. Look, Ngati Hine is a tribe in the mid north. Six years ago they did an audit of the Tai Tokerau region. And they found that there were 6000 substandard homes across Tai Tokerau. Part of our policy is to identify who those people are, their names, their needs, the numbers and use our policy to help them make their homes weather-tight, warm and dry. It is essential because the cost on the nation in terms of Maori not having homes, there’s a health cost, there’s education cost, the social cost, the waste of human potential. We just can’t afford to carry on.

CORIN All right. So you’ve got a plan. We’ll hear more details about that today. Willie Jackson, do you need to cut deals with the Greens to win your seats?

WILLIE Look, the leadership of the Greens and leadership of Labour met last year and said there would be no deals. But I have put it up, and I intend to have talked with our leadership about it.

CORIN I think the Greens tweeted yesterday, in fact, Metiria Turei said no deals.

WILLIE Well, she can tweet all she likes. All right? Tweet all you like. I don't tweet.

CORIN Well, are you talking to Greens independently?

WILLIE No, I’m talking about our Maori MPs. I haven't talked to Metiria, but things have changed. The Maori have all come off the list since last year. And so I’m saying, you know, I respect the leadership of both our parties. But we will be putting back on the table that maybe we might need a deal and a couple of seats, because the vote could split. Now, we don't want to put a National government back in, do we?

CORIN And is Kelvin one of those who needs a deal? Because you are facing a double hit on the other side, aren’t you?

KELVIN I am working whether there is a deal or no deal. I am just going out to win every vote I can. Oh, look, I am not going to depend on any deal. Of course, it would be great if the Greens absolutely said we just want the party vote for them, you know.

CORIN There is no such thing as a dirty deal now. Everyone is doing it. It is fine.

WILLIE Well, no, I think it is fine. Bill English thinks it is fine. The Maori Party and Mana Party think it is fine.

CORIN The problem is the Greens don’t want to do it.

WILLIE No, well, that is right. And I respect the Greens leadership. And I respect our leadership, but the political reality says to us, particularly in somewhere like Auckland, for instance, that if that vote splits, you know, we could see a Maori Party MP joining up with National and National becoming the government.

KELVIN None of the Greens are going to win the Maori seats. So don't bother voting for the Greens.

CORIN Well, what about Metiria Turei? She's standing in Te Tai Tokerau.
KELVIN No, no hope.

CORIN Not even now that she has got a profile?

WILLIE No chance whatsoever. Rino Tirkatene’s got that all wrapped up.

CORIN You’re sure of that?

WILLIE Absolutely sure. We'll put your job on it, eh? Just in case I don’t get it and I need a job after the election.

CORIN Well, funny you should mention that, Willie Jackson, because, you know, Labour is struggling. I mean, a number of polls have got them very low.


CORIN You wouldn’t make it back in.

WILLIE Well, that’s okay. I mean, for me, my main concern is the Maori MPs. I am proud of the way they are working. See, we have got the policies for our people. I don't want our people to get less than 1% of funding, which is what the Maori Party got in the last budget.

CORIN You could have gone with the Maori Party.

WILLIE Well, whatever. I am going with the party that I believe in. They have got the policies for education, for health, for families, for housing. What a fantastic policy! Okay, it is not quite resonating at the moment. I don’t know why, but there is eight weeks of this election left. We know if it is resonating in the Maori seats. Maori voters are coming back to Labour. If we have to be the catalyst, we will be. But I can see the support that our members are getting. Kelvin over here – everybody said oh, Hone’s going to walk all over him. Kelvin is making a killing in Te Tai Tokerau.

CORIN I wonder why it’s not resonating, because the Greens are stealing your thunder. Metiria Turei has walked into the area of social justice and has set the place alight. People are talking. Isn’t that what Labour was supposed to do?

KELVIN It is what we're doing. You know, that’s your perception, but we’re getting out there and we are making a difference. We have got a lot of policies. In fact, if you had an independent observer go through all the party’s policies, they’d say oh, those policies there are the best. And then find out oh, crikey, they’re the Labour Party’s. Selling them is probably where we are letting ourselves down and letting people know that. We are right out there batting for them and fighting for them every step of the way.

WILLIE We are not show-offs like his cousin Shane Jones, right? Shane Jones comes out, ‘Oh, we’ll nuke all the Maoris, eh? We’ll nuke all the gangsters.’ Oh, headlines, you know. Corin talks to him - all nonsense, rubbish. Winston comes out, ‘I’ll get rid of the Maori seats,’ forgets to tell everybody that he started his political career in a Maori seat, that he had all the Maori seats, that he was the minister of Maori Affairs. We are not into headlines. We have great policies. And I’ve seen this before - sometimes the people are not listening and looking at them. They are looking more at the personalities.

CORIN It is your job is a communicator and a politician to express those policies, get them through, and something is not working.

WILLIE I want you to come to the campaign launch. You’ve got to come to the campaign launch. We are just starting. A week is a long time in politics. We have got eight weeks.

CORIN The conflicting messages, though - I mean, you look at charter schools. We know you’ve had this debate. And Labour is sort of, what, going to give you some sort of an exemption on the charter schools that you guys are involved with. Is that right?

KELVIN No, no, no. That's not it at all.

CORIN It’s a name change, is it?

KELVIN It is a name change, but also by coming in under the current legislation and special character school, it is going to iron out all the anomalies that are currently there for charter schools. Charter schools don’t actually like what I said last week, because they think they are going to be disadvantaged by what I said.

CORIN What you said was that you would resign, right, if the charter school in Northland, the two of them, are gone.

WILLIE It will carry on. It will still happen. Families, the whanau, the children won't notice any difference, but there will be administrative changes. But what it is doing is ironing out the anomalies that charter schools are perceived to have better conditions.

CORIN Because it is actually a fundamental issue here. Because it is about Maori want to be able to run these schools, don’t they? They want the control. They are sick of the government doing it for them, yet Labour is fundamentally saying no, we cannot have charter schools.

WILLIE See, that is because you media are block-headed. Right? You are not listening, Corin. I have been saying this to a few of you journalists lately.

CORIN Well, have another go.

WILLIE Listen to what we are saying. Labour support innovativeness. They support creativity. They have been to our schools. They have actually got nothing against our schools. What they are against is the charter school model that encourages big business, that talks about privatisation. We are not into privatisation. Education is a public good. Can you get through your head, Corin? Because you keep asking the same question.

KELVIN What Maori want, though, is to have a say over the education of their children. Everyone forgets that actually, every school in New Zealand is a charter school, but they are blocked, really, from actually having broad, wide-ranging charters and curriculum because of national standards.

CORIN So, will the schools that you guys still are involved with, will they be able to hire non-qualified teachers?

WILLIE Well, the rule now is that they can do that. I am not sure about Kelvin’s one up north - all my teachers are qualified. We follow the curriculum.

KELVIN No, but the schools up north, I believe that all of their teachers are registered bar one.

WILLIE Okay. So we follow the rules. It is not a problem. We need you at the school, actually. We need experienced people to support our kids. Are you coming to the launch or are you just going to go to the tory launch? What is the story, Corin?

CORIN I’ll come to the launch. Thank you very much. Back to you, Jess.

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TVNZ 1 and one hour later on TVNZ 1 + 1.
Repeated Sunday evening at around 11:35pm. Streamed live at www.tvnz.co.nz
Thanks to the support from NZ On Air.
Q+A is also on Facebook: here and on Twitter

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