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The Maori American Presidential Candidate

Naked in Nuhaka

By Leo Koziol

The Maori American Presidential Candidate

WELLINGTON PONEKE, AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND (8 August, 2004): Independent Maori MP Wiremu Clinton's electorate seat became vacant on May 11, a parliamentary select committee has found. Parliament's privileges committee has been considering whether Mr. Clinton breached the Electoral Act when he applied to have his Maori nationality restored.

It found he had, and as such his seat was vacant, under section 55(99)(b) of the Electoral Act. The Government is now likely to introduce retrospective legislation to solve an issue Mr. Clinton has predicted could affect "heaps" of MPs.

Mr. Clinton was caught by a clause in the 1992 Electoral Act that requires a seat to become vacant if its MP makes a declaration or acknowledges allegiance to "any foreign prince or power".

The issue came to light when Mr. Clinton applied to renew his Ngati Tangata passport, which involved pledge of allegiance to the Maori Queen and 1835 Maori Declaration of Independence. The parliamentary select committee entered into urgent debate about whether "Maori queen" can be defined the same as "foreign prince."

Ngati Tangata passports are currently recognised in Fiji, Tonga, South Africa, Libya, Djibouti, the Ureweras, and the Free Republics of Okarito, Whangamomona, and Nuhaka.

* * * *

I've been thinking a lot lately about writing a column on topics political.

Its pretty apparent to anyone who follows world news that the U.S. is in quite a political pickle right now. Here's a short-list:

* Allegations of Republican Party computerised vote fiddling (a story broken out by our very own;

* The nasty upcoming recall excision of Governor Gray Davis (once touted as Presidential material) from his recently elected office (1);

* Governor Davis' potential replacement with either Arnold Schwarzenegger or Larry Flynt;

* Outright fibs in Presidential addresses justifying war in Iraq;

* Cover-ups and information gaps in the investigations of pre-911 CIA and FBI dealings.

When four months ago President Bush landed on a U.S. aircraft carrier in a Navy jumpsuit a dictator's triptych of lies, deception and masquerade became complete. Hawks and scavengers fly over an expectant carnage that does not look set to eventuate(2), even though the weight of evidence continues to stack higher and higher. A sense that something inspiring *is* going to happen truly does seem palpable, something to give us hope. Talks of a 21st Century Watergate abound, but in these post-ironic times, will it really happen?

A friend of mine in San Francisco wrote to me this week:

"Here in the good old US of A, it's hard to have much hope for progress, with the 'President' and his henchmen (and henchwomen) doing everything they can to dismantle every progressive thing our government has managed to achieve. Besides ripping the Constitution to shreds and giving aid and comfort to those who'd like to see a Christian fundamentalist theocracy established here. It's depressing. And the California governor recall - spare us!"

I've been thinking about what I could possibly do about all this.

The sad situation with Gray Davis depresses me. Davis is a former political progressive now pretty much owned by corporate-fed machine politics. He used to be the Chief of Staff to Governor Jerry Brown, Governor "Moonbeam". Back in 1999, my boss Huey Johnson invited me to come along and have dinner with the then Gubernatorial Candidate Davis. I regretfully declined, wrapped up in my own trivial twentysomething affairs at the time. Looking back, I regret missing the opportunity.

So I've been musing on what I could do to "turn things around" and reawaken my political spirit. I know! I'll run for Governor of California in the October recall! Or, even better, I'll run for President of the United States! I'll join the Democratic Party! I'll put my name forward for the U.S. Green Party primaries! I'll be the first Maori American Presidential Candidate of all time!

Or will I?

* * * *

The article at the start of this week’s column is a complete fiction (3). By comparison, this column’s title - The Maori American Presidential Candidate - is not.

A dynamic Maori wahine is currently running for President of the United States. Her skin is brown, she's a former Senator and self-described "Ambassador to Paradise", and like many others in the emerging Maori intellectual and political classes she is a lucid and powerful speaker who keeps Maori issues and tikanga close to her heart. In a Democratic Party Primary rally speech she made mention of her Maori people.

This from (4):

"[The] former senator from Illinois and ... ambassador to New Zealand, ...hit the crowd's sweet spot. She began, speaking softly and slowly, by going on a strange... tangent about the way the Maori people of New Zealand conceive of time. The point, she finally said, is that 'progress is not linear. It moves in fits and starts. The question is whether progress will be towards a vision that we embrace or a vision embraced by someone else.'"

Nice, huh? (5)

Wiremu Clinton MP is a fiction but Harry Duynhoven MP is not. He faces potential ejection because he "swore allegiance to a foreign power"; in this instance his father's homeland of the Netherlands. A rather old piece of legislation means those who pledge allegiance to foreign powers can be ejected from high posts in government (including Members of Parliament).

The interesting thing is, does the list of "foreign powers" include the United Kingdom -- or indeed, for that matter, any member state of the British Commonwealth? Don’t all these nations have the same head of state that we do: Queen Elizabeth Windsor II?

And what is New Zealand's Pledge of Allegiance anyway? God Defend New Zealand? Pokarekareana? God Save The Queen? Poi E? E Ipo?

* * * *

So here's the scoop.

The Maori American Presidential Candidate is one Carol Moseley-Braun. Whilst ambassador to New Zealand in the fin-de-siecle years of 1999/2000, Carol was made an honorary member of the Te Atiawa tribe. Which, I guess, makes her Maori. And, indeed, the first Maori to run for the highest office of the world's most powerful democracy.

Carol Moseley-Braun would make an interesting Maori politician. She's got political intrigue to match a bevy of Donnas: her boyfriend's been professionally associated with an ex-President of Nigeria (the same one who ordered the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa) (6). She, like any true Maori, loves her country, her home, her turangawaewae.

An interview in a Chicago Tribune travel column:

"Here are the comparisons I make," she says. "I tell people New Zealand is two-thirds the size of California, and its two islands are geologically almost a mirror image of California. Auckland is like their New York -- another city not to be missed. Wellington, the capital, is like Washington D.C. Christchurch is like Chicago. Nelson is more like San Francisco. Dunedin is like Scotland. Some people even wear kilts."

Finally! Someone who finally sees the truth that the Big Mangrove is on par with the Big Apple! She continues:

"Differences? New Zealand is very Green politically. You see kids walking the streets barefoot. There's no tipping; it's almost unheard of. The people are friendly. I'd tell visitors all they have to remember is just be nice. When I was there, I thought of it as two years of being ambassador to Paradise. I'd love to go back, but it may be awhile. I'm running for president right now."

How lovely, a fellow Maori intellectual!

So I’m very happy to see Carol Moseley-Braun up there as a Maori running for the President of the United States. In any case, I can't run for Governor of President until I'm aged 35, early next year(7). And I can't run for President until they pass the laws to let foreign-born naturalised Americans become candidates (which is on the cards now as Republicans eye Scandinavian Shwarzenegger as serious Presidential material) (8). So, for now, I’ll tautoko Carol and plan for a future attempt instead.

Maybe I should contact Carol Moseley-Braun to see what she thinks about me making a go of it in the next election. Maybe I could go up against Hillary in 2008?

And, of course, Carol will reply to me and wish me luck.

Because, after all, we *are* whanaunga (9).


ONLINE RESOURCES: Official Carol Moseley Braun for President Page

The Maori Declaration of Independence


(1) See:

(2) The only signal I've seen so far was the resignation of relatively progressive EPA Director (and former New Jersey Governor) Christie Todd Whitman (though Colin Powell's signals toward resignation seem quite palpable).

(3) Plagiarism (in parts) fully acknowledged to:

(4) See " "We don't need a second Republican Party", by Michelle Goldberg, 2003.

(5) When I get a chance, I'm going to contact Ms. Moseley-Braun's campaign office to see if I can get a copy of her speech.

(6) See "Return of the Ugly American":

(7) April 9, 2004, will be an interesting day when it comes to pass. I, myself, will be 35 years old and therefore eligible to run for Senate or Presidency in the United States. I found out the other week that the day will also be the one year Anniversary of "victory" in Iraq, a national holiday declared this week by the Iraqi Leadership Council. Ick.

(8) See, for example: "Give 'Terminator' a shot at White House?" The proposal is being raised by Mormon Senator Orrin Hatch.

(9) Whanaunga: relation, relative. From:


ABOUT NAKED IN NUHAKA Leo Koziol ( writes on identity, culture, politics and place in Aotearoa NZ in the 21st Century. Nuhaka is located on the East Coast of the North Island of NZ.

All content (c) Leo Koziol & Rautaki Group Consultants 2003.

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