Dunno why we bother calling it Waitangi Day.
It has become an occasion – in the Far North, anyway – for unseemly shit-stirring.
Accordingly we should think about calling it something more appropriate, like Maori Malevolence Day.
Hone Hawawira’s gaggle of malcontents is promising another dose of aggravation this weekend.
The Mana Party is warning Prime Minister John Key will get a hostile reception at Waitangi this weekend as anger among Maori grows over the potential removal of Treaty rights and cutbacks at the Maori Affairs Ministry, Te Puni Kokiri.
Mana spokesman Malcolm Mulholland said this morning Key was walking into “a perfect storm”.
This year’s pretext for shit-stirring is the prospect of Section 9 being removed from the State Owned Enterprises Act in the legislation needed to flog off some shares in the state’s energy-sector enterprises.
Oh, and the malcontents have turned stroppy about 50 jobs being lost, maybe, at Te Puni Kokiri.
“No government is their right mind would want those two pieces of news breaking in the lead up to Waitangi Day,” Mulholland said.
“It’s terrible timing, it couldn’t be any worse.”
But did you hear murmurs of disquiet from Mulholland and his mates in response to news of job cuts in other government departments, such as the 200 or so being lined up for the chop at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade?
Nope. Can’t recall it.
Presumably they figure most of the victims in other departments will be Pakeha and unemployed Pakeha just aint their problem.
Mulholland proceeded to remind us why Waitangi Day might more accurately be named Maori Malevolence Day.
Waitangi Day was often a lightning rod for Maori grievances and Maori protests, he said.
“I don’t expect this year to be any different,” Mulholland said..
Stuff recalls former National leader Don Brash being pelted with mud in 2004 over his one law for all policy and Key being assaulted in 2009.
The list might usefully have included Hone’s charmless mum reducing Helen Clark to tears a few years back.
But let’s get back to Mulholland – he insisted the Government had underestimated how important Section 9 was to Maori.
Some Maori, maybe.
But only a few, Alf suspects.
Whether significant numbers of Maori give a toss about who owns how much of the energy-sector SOES is a very good question.
National’s intention to sell half the assets in those enterprises was probably the most contentious issue during the 2011 election campaign.
But were Maori motivated to get out there and vote against the sales?
Actually, vast numbers of them didn’t even bother to enroll.
Afterwards, dear old Tariana Turia joined the chorus of demands for an inquiry into the low turnout.
“Turnout is a huge issue in the Maori electorates” said Tariana Turia.
“Over the last three elections the turnout has declined dramatically from 67% (2005) to 62% (2008) and preliminary data is suggesting just 48% of enrolled Maori voters turned out to vote in this year’s election.
” In fact, voting statistics for Māori indicate a consistently lower level of voter participation in general elections since 1935.
“It is of great concern to us that Maori are turning away from active participation in election and in politics, by choosing not to enrol nor to vote.”
But Maori are special and don’t have to vote to influence policy.
And The Boss has gone a bit soft on the howls from the few about Section Nine.
He has promised to raise the issue at Waitangi this weekend, saying there was a lot of misunderstanding and he wanted to explain the Government’s position to iwi leaders.
Stuff reports –
He has said he wants to make it clear he was not walking away from the Crown’s obligations under the Treaty.
But when a malevolent Maori mob doesn’t want to listen, you are wasting your breath trying to explain things.
Oh, and it looks like there will be many other occasions when malevolent Maori mobs will be turning up.
As Stuff points out, the Government will next week begin nationwide hui to consult three options for Maori on Section 9: to retain it, scrap it or change it so it relates only to the Crown, not private shareholders.
Mulholland said the round of consultation would “certainly be met with some hostility as well”.
Alf expects to see the Popata brothers in action on these occasions.
Yeah – they are some of Hone’s more belligerent relatives.
They were involved in the a major security incident at Waitangi in 2009, when they jostled The Boss as he made his way onto Te Tii Waitangi Marae.
A lone protester who heckled Prime Minister John Key as he arrived on the Te Tii Marae in Waitangi today was one of the two men convicted of assaulting him two years ago.
Wikitana Popata was back last year, braying into a loudspeaker about The Boss being “the enemy amongst us” and accusing him of being responsible for stealing Maori lands and killing young Maori.
The security guards kept him at bay on that occasion, although they could not muffle his ravings.
Keep an eye out for him trying to have another crack this year.
Preferably do this from the comfort of your home by watching the madness at Waitangi on television. Being there – Alf can tell you from experience – is no fun.