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Eye to Eye: ‘The Political Update’

“The whole concept of a Maori Party is racist. It says the thing we are here for is ‘a race’, is for a people.”

That’s how former Act MP Stephen Franks’ summed up the Maori Party on this week’s Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson. The blond haired blue eyed Franks, says while he supports the Maori Party’s stance on the Fisheries Bill, it isn’t representative of ‘the people’.

To which radio talkback host Bill Ralston quipped, “What does Act stand for? Fat rich white guys? I mean, hullo!”

Franks and Ralston went head to head this week with the politically opinionated Mike King and former MP turned broadcaster John Tamihere to analyse the current political climate as a run up to Election 2008.

Mike King argued that race based politics has been part of the political landscape long before the Maori Party became a force to be reckoned with.

“You make it sound like we’ve introduced race based politics. It’s always been there. The front page of the Herald has always been ‘white people are right, brown people are bad and wrong’. They’re (Maori Party) going great guns when you look at their performance up against the Labour Maori MPs,” said King.

John Tamihere says the Maori Party is more sustainable than United Future, NZ First and Act. He says the Labour’s Maori caucus’ stand against Jim Anderton’s amendments to the Fisheries Bill, has not scored them any brownie points.

“They’ve stood up for the rights of a small group of Maori who make money from commercial fishing. I’m a great believer of sustainability, of quota moving across to recreational fishers and pushing the commercial fishers out in the deep water where they’re better geared to go. You will sell your soul to hold on,” said Tamihere.

And despite a bashing in the Leader popularity stakes over the weekend, Helen Clark, according to Ralston, still comes out smelling like roses.

“She is the sublime politician. She’s cut her teeth on MMP. If anyone can get a fourth term up – she can. The legacy of this government is the fact that it stayed in power for three terms. This is not one of the reforming Labour governments. But they did close the gaps, Maori are now more mainstream,” said Ralston.

This was a very appropriate note to end TVNZ’s highest rating Maori programme on, in light of comments made earlier in the week by former Maori advisor to TVNZ Hone Edwards that putting Maori programmes in prime time was commercial suicide. Eye to Eye, a TV1 favourite for five years, screens every Saturday morning at 9.30am.

“Shows that are bilingual or about Maori issues are Maori programmes and they can rate. All they require from TVNZ is the commitment to a strategy and we at Eye to Eye want to help you,” Jackson said.

To view this episode ‘The Political Update’ go to www.frontofthebox.co.nz. Feel free to email your comments and feedback to Willie and his production team.

Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson, TV1, Saturday 0930am


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