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Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi and National Party leader Christopher Luxon (Photos: Supplied)
Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi and National Party leader Christopher Luxon (Photos: Supplied)

The BulletinMay 11, 2023

Luxon rules out te Pāti Māori – and kicks off a new controversy

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi and National Party leader Christopher Luxon (Photos: Supplied)
Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi and National Party leader Christopher Luxon (Photos: Supplied)

His comments about the party have been accused of ‘dog-whistling racism’, writes Catherine McGregor in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.

A run on ‘ruling out’

All we need is one more politician to rule out te Pāti Māori and we can call it a trend. First it was Elizabeth Kerekere who ruled out joining the Māori Party following her exit from the Greens. Then just an hour or so later, National leader Christopher Luxon took to the podium to announce he, too, was officially ruling out working with the party. To anyone who had been paying attention, the announcement came as no surprise, so why make a big production of it? On the NZ Herald (paywalled), Claire Trevett says Luxon’s move was “naked politics”, marking the day he may have finally become “an actual politician, rather than a businessman trying out a politician’s suit”. The point was to damage Labour, Trevett says, by grabbing the opportunity to highlight the various divisions within the government and its allies – the so-called “coalition of chaos” which, as Toby Manhire notes on The Spinoff this morning, has quickly become National’s attack line du jour.

Accusations of dog-whistle politics abound

As for the reasons National couldn’t work with te Pāti Māori, Luxon said the current iteration of the party is too extreme. “For example, National believes New Zealand is one country with one standard of citizenship, meaning one person, one vote,” he said. That and another comment about “separatism” had some “hearing troubling echoes of Don Brash’s infamous Orewa speech in 2005”, writes Manhire. Among those who accused Luxon of “dog-whistling” yesterday were Labour deputy leader Carmel Sepuloni, te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi, and Greens co-leader Marama Davidson, who pulled no punches when talking to 1News: “If he wants to talk about chaos, using some lazy dog-whistling racism is pretty chaotic and it’s a sign they’ve got no actual substance and just want to kick up that racism,” she said. Waititi also mentioned the ratepayer roll, which allows people paying rates to a different council than where they live – for example, landlords – to vote in multiple local body elections. Asked whether his “one person, one vote” stance meant he’d be open to scrapping the roll, Luxon said “possibly, yes” – an “about-face from National’s previous position”, notes Newsroom’s Marc Daalder.

Co-leaders make waves in the House

Te Pāti Māori were back making headlines later in the day, when a bill banning all seabed mining, sponsored by co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, was heavily defeated in Parliament. Before the vote, Ngarewa-Packer made an angry speech to the House. “It has been insulting to our people that we’ve had to watch these amateurs sit here and talk about things they have no understanding of,” she said, referring to Labour MPs who had voted against the bill. The session also saw Greens co-leader Marama Davidson turfed out of the House for repeatedly interjecting as Act MP Nicole McKee spoke. “After apologising, and again interjecting, Speaker Adrian Rurawhe ordered her out of the House,” Stuff’s Thomas Manch reports.

Lib Dems: in or out?

In the UK, potential coalition partners are also a hot topic – even though the next general election is almost certainly well over a year away. Labour leader Keir Starmer, riding high after gaining over 600 council seats in local body elections, has refused to rule out a deal with the Liberal Democrats if Labour fails to win a majority, but said Labour would not form a pact with the pro-independence Scottish National Party, “because of their politics of separation”. The official Lib Dem position on a possible post-election coalition also remains ambiguous, the Guardian reports, “although much can be read into the fact that their leader, Ed Davey, has definitively ruled out a deal with the Conservatives but not Labour”.

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