Alf’s memory banks have been stirred by news of the death of Alamein Kopu, a member of Parliament from 1996 to 1999.
Ms Kopu, a Rotorua great-grandmother, had been on the dole before entering Parliament on the Alliance list after the 1996 election.
But she found Jim Anderton’s mob hard to live with and raised a furore by quitting the Alliance and becoming an independent MP, thereby exposing one of the frailities of the MMP system and its use of party lists.
She became the leader of her own party, Mana Wahine Te Ira Tangata, but she lost her seat in the election in November 1999.
The Herald’s website gives us a brief account of her accomplishments: during her term, she became known as the “waka jumper” after quitting the Alliance.
Her vote as a waka jumper helped Jenny Shipley’s National Government to stay in power, for which Alf was hugely grateful at the time, because he doesn’t much relish languishing on the Opposition benches.
Alf found a bit more in a Newstalk ZB radio report –
She worked extensively in the community, mainly on rehabilitation programmes for criminals and drug users.
She was the centre of a storm in 1997 after resigning from the Alliance Party, through which she’d been elected on the party list the year before, to go it alone in the House.
For that move, Alamein Kopu became known as the “waka jumping” MP.
Fellow MPs complained she was never in Parliament and did little work – her response was to blame racism and say apartheid was alive and well in New Zealand.
She died in Rotorua yesterday, aged 68.
None of those reports mention the mystery of the missing furniture.
Back in 2000 police were called in to investigate the disappearance from Parliament of office furnishings allocated to the one-term Kopu.
A complaint was made to Wellington police about three weeks ago by Members’ Services, a division of Parliamentary Services, relating to a list of furnishings missing from Mrs Kopu’s former office on the third floor of the Beehive.
The list includes a desk, chair, filing cabinet, computer and printer, lounge suite and a rubbish bin.
Police were interviewing people about the matter when the Herald reported the furniture’s disappearance.
A police inspector was very diplomatic about what he said.
“We’re not saying the property is stolen – just that it is unaccounted for at the moment,” Mr Stenhouse said.
Parliamentary Services owns the furnishings in Beehive offices, apart from personal additions.
So did Ms Kopu do a deal with them?
The Herald understands that after being contacted by Members’ Services, Mrs Kopu negotiated to buy the computer and printer at cost, because the computer contained personal documents.
The boss of Parliamentary Services confirmed that Ms Kopu had bought “computer equipment” from that organisation at a price, which he did not know, set by an independent valuer.
A plausible defence of Ms Kopu was provided in a report at Me First!, an outfit set up to protect the interests of the conservative and wealthy in New Zealand.
It reported –
Former MP Alamein Kopu has attacked those who have questioned her integrity following allegations that she ‘misappropriated’ furniture from her office after the November election, and has stated that these allegations are part of an attempt to discredit her. She has declared that the insinuations against her were proof that “apartheid is rife” in NZ.
Working with Ms Kopu’s highly regarded and believable advice, police have determined that the disappearance of the furniture must be the result of a band of white supremacist furniture thieves who are dedicated to bringing about a system of apartheid in New Zealand. Following extensive interviews with Ms Kopu, Police have released a description of the those believed responsible for taking the furniture from Ms Kopu’s former office.
Me First published pictures of two suspects with one of the lounges allegedly stolen from Ms Kopu’s office, and described them as being part of an organisation known as the Aryan Furniture Brotherhood.
Fanatical racists, their mission is to discredit high profile non-white New Zealanders by stealing their furniture and other miscellaneous household fittings and appliances. It is believed that they considered Ms Kopu to be a highly competent and credible Maori political figure, and therefore a threat to their organisation.
Police have never commented on whether they believed the Aryan Furniture Brotherhood was involved in this particular case, although a Police spokesperson has admitted that “an extensive undercover investigation has revealed that a large number of Pakeha have furniture in their homes”.
The Police declined to comment to Me First on the case
…but it appears that they have ruled out the possibility that Ms Kopu has had anything to do with the furniture’s disappearance.
“Alamein Kopu was an elected Member of Parliament” stated a Police spokesperson earlier.
“If we cannot trust our country’s politicians, who can we trust?”
Alf thoroughly concurs with that sentiment.