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Q+A’s Guyon Espiner Interviews MP Shane Jones

Q+A’s Guyon Espiner Interviews Labour MP Shane Jones.

  • Points of interest:

    - Jones says Goff’s nationhood speech “fair comment”, but contradicts his leader on race relations “crossroads”

    - Refuses to rule out leadership challenge: “that lies somewhere between our caucus and providence”

    - Number of Maori seats unlikely to grow as poor Maori Party stewardship will rive Maori to general seats

    - Promises to “attack and denounce” Maori Party message every chance he gets

  • The interview has been transcribed below. The full length video interviews and panel discussions from this morning’s Q+A can be seen on tvnz.co.nz at,


    SHANE JONES interviewed by GUYON ESPINER

    GUYON Thank you Shane for coming in this morning, we really appreciate your time. Now we were both at Waitangi it didn’t seem like there was a lot of trouble, in fact there was a pretty good mood, given that's the place that you're gonna find trouble on Waitangi Day if it's going to be there. Wouldn’t you say that that's a good indication that race relations are in a fairly good space at the moment?

    SHANE JONES – Labour MP
    Yeah look on that front we're a society in transition, and I came from a time when our kaumatua told us there's very little of any Maori presence in institution of government etc, it's increased greatly and I'm very optimistic about the future. There are a few flourishes, one of the kaumatua seemed to have gone quite mad bringing Tongans to Waitangi to give them some sort of special status in my tribe, but those issues come and go.

    GUYON Because we are often told aren’t we that there's some sort of looming crisis here that we could reopen the wounds of division among Maori and Pakeha and have a New Zealand where Maori and Pakeha are turned against each other, I mean do you believe that?

    SHANE Na, no no, I don’t believe that’s the case, although I must say Waitangi has a magnetic quality and it does draw all sorts of some strange characters to Waitangi, and there's always the element of a random event, but look by and large people are there to celebrate the wakas, celebrate the Treaty and not to give biffo to each other.

    GUYON Because on November 26 last year your leader Phil Goff said exactly that, that we're at the crossroads and that we faced a position where Maori and Pakeha could be turned against each other and we could face racial division. You don’t believe that by the sound of things?

    SHANE I think the danger that he was alerting us to is that if the current coalition government because of the Maori Party very strong position, if we're gonna do deals of a seabed and foreshore nature, of a Maori forestry nature, then do them openly, and don’t cut anyone out, and I think that was a fair comment for him to make.

    GUYON But you have acknowledged that that was hyperbole that we are in a pretty good space?

    SHANE Well certainly the Waitangi I saw, other than the Maori Party flag and Hone's flag sitting on the mast of the pirate ship outside the marae was a relatively calm day.

    GUYON One of the ideas that sparks some resentment among some Pakeha and I guess among some European Asian Indian immigrants to New Zealand, is this idea that Maori have special status, because bluntly they were here first. Do you understand or accept that position and that reluctance to embrace that idea?

    SHANE Well let's cut to the chase, we are seriously a society in transition, but the two key features on our main icons are either the Maori chief or something reflecting indigeneity and something reflecting our British traditions. I'm actually proud of that, there's nothing to reflect my Dalmatian tradition, but you know things will change and evolve, but it has to change organically, and we need to ensure that whoever's running the show have the navigation skills to take us forward.

    GUYON Do you think the Maori seats in parliament are helpful for New Zealand, I mean the Maori Party which you’ve been gunning for, those seats have allowed them to hold a balance of power well beyond their actual party support, do you think that the time has gone for the Maori seats?

    SHANE Well I predicted last time that there would not be an increase in Maori seats, and I'm firmly of the view that they will not grow in number again. I think the quality of stewardship being shown by the Maori Party will actually cause many Maori to leave those seats.

    GUYON Do you think it's time for us to abolish the Maori seats?

    SHANE No, no, I think that would be an unnecessary cause of new unrest, but I think that as time goes on more people will leave those seats and come on to the general role, but then that’s a challenge for all political parties to make sure that they show the right mix of style, policy, idea and appeal so that people feel that on a general seat they can see a little bit of themselves.

    GUYON Following Labour's first caucus retreat of the year you came out and said that it was your goal to drive the Maori Party out of parliament. Whose idea was that?

    SHANE I'm sick and tired of being on the receiving end of all sorts of scurrilous remarks about how we've sold out Maori etc, so I'm not going to take it any longer. Politics and democracy is a contest of ideas and the idea that there's only one vision for the future based on some sort of ongoing colonial oppression as represented by Hone is rubbish, and I'm going to attack it and denounce it every chance I get.

    GUYON Strategically though was that an idea that was discussed within the Labour Party, and strategy as the Labour Party to get rid of the Maori Party?

    SHANE Oh no I think that the strategy is to show that this is a contest of ideas, and the notion that just because Tariana wears the Kiwi feather cloak that we're not allowed to have her on, is rubbish, and if their ideas are empty as is the whanauora and other such mad schemes then they deserve to be attacked.

    GUYON The Maori Party was born out of the Foreshore and Seabed Act, now one of your colleagues Kelvin Davis, has really denounced the amount of energy that the Maori Party are putting into its repeal, and in fact he said in January 12 he wrote, well let's repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act and put the foreshore and seabed into Maori title, we can be dumber, sicker, poorer, more pissed, more drugged and pregnant at the beach. Do you share his satirical tone that this is really an irrelevance and not worth putting the energy into?

    SHANE Well let's face it, politics has an element of satire, theatre, hyperbole, rhetoric, the reality however it's time for us as Maori and our leadership to get back to the real issues, the real issues of joblessness, hopelessness, and the reality is that the seabed and foreshore's becoming something of a diversion, and if there is a better model and a better scheme then put it on the table, because the notion that you can had a veto right over to Ngaitahu or something like that and you have to sort of give them a royalty, well that’s ridiculous, and secondly if there is an improvement on what we did, then do it in such a way and put it forward openly and not secretly which seems to be the position at the moment.

    GUYON Well Labour's position has been somewhat confusing, is it now your party's position that the Seabed and Foreshore Act, the legislation, does not need to because changed, should be left where it is?

    SHANE I don’t think it is bewildering, I think Dr Cullen before he left, he laid down two important areas, that the machinery was cumbersome and that as a consequence of the coalition politics of the time he couldn’t go quite as far as he wanted to in terms of how would you describe in law the entitlements that Maori might still have. Now we haven't moved away from that, we haven't moved away from public access or a process to identify and codify whatever residual Maori right there must be, but hey we've put our model on the table we were punished and yelled at and jeered at for it, now if the Maori Party and the current government have a better model, then I think New Zealanders deserve the opportunity to see it openly and have it debated openly and all this sort of furtive talk of massive royalties, iwi over right, they need to stop that and come back to the reality that many of their own people are suffering under economic hardship, and show some leadership there.

    GUYON Just before we leave it, why do you think it is that Labour at the moment is so far behind National in the polls, what do you think is behind the public just not listening to Labour at the moment?

    SHANE Well it was nigh on a year ago that we lost the election, and you know all of us as politicians were ambitious and no one likes to be kicked in the guts, the media I think are still enamoured with the Prime Minister and his ministers, and we just have to continue to chip paint.

    GUYON You talk about ambitions, your own ambitions, does that extend to one day if you're asked perhaps after an election defeat in 2011, would you take the leadership of the Labour Party?

    SHANE Oh well that lies somewhere between our caucus and providence, so we'll just wait and see about that.

    GUYON But you're not ruling it out?

    SHANE Well we'll just wait and see.

    GUYON Alright, good place to leave it, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

    SHANE Kia ora.


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