When the Martians ask to be taken to the Anglican or Maori Party leader – how many will they meet?

So what does the Anglican Church have in common with the Maori Party?

Lots of leaders.

Alf was reminded of the similarity between the church and the Maori Party after the Bishop of Taranaki, Philip Richardson, was elected Archbishop and became one of three men who jointly share leadership of the church in this country (see here).

Bishop Richardson will share leadership duties with the leader of the Maori arm of the church, Archbishop Brown Turei, and with Archbishop Winston Halapua who is Bishop of Polynesia.

Sharing leadership is something the Green Party likes to do, too.

It has two co-leaders.

They could do better.

According to TV3 (here) the other night –

The Maori Party is looking at making all three of its MPs co-leaders, or as co-leader Tariana Turia would have it – not having a leader at all.

The party’s led by Pita Sharples and Ms Turia – but its only other MP, Te Ururoa Flavell, has said he also wants the job, and at least one Maori academic believes the three-way split is a good idea.

Of course it’s a good idea.

It gets around the problem of having to oblige members to make a choice.

That would require a democratic vote, and somebody would finish up a loser.


So let’s make all MPs a leader.

“We are confident that given the right consideration, it could work,” says Ms Turia.

This was a qualified endorsement of the idea, it should be noted.

TV3 backgrounded us on the mess the Maori Party finds itself in since it was revealed at January’s Ratana celebrations that the Flavell feller – the only one of the three party MPs without a ministerial title and the perks that go with it – wants to take charge.

And so a hui was called at the weekend to find a solution.

“It’s pretty full on, that’s politics,” says Dr Sharples.

“We don’t hate each other, that’s the good part. We’re still all bros.”

But although Ms Turia’s stepping down at the next election, Dr Sharples is reluctant to follow her lead.

“The bottom line is I’m prepared to lead us until I’m dead,” he says.

Dunno if that’s an invitation to disgruntled members to pop him off or what.

But here’s the thing.

Under the possible new structure, Ms Turia insists no-one would actually be the leader.

“It would be about people leading but only in very specific areas.

“Three people who would be carrying out particular roles in the interests of our people. We think that’s a very good solution.”

Alf suspects former party member and political rival Hone Harawira is on the money when he says a three-way power split would be a disaster.

“Mate, if you’re going to make all three of them the chiefs, who’s going to be the Indian? And if you make all three the leader then who does the work?”

At that point of the TV3 story, David Rankin enters the picture to regale us with stuff about doing things the good old way, before the British colonists turned up.

“This is traditional Maori leadership,” says Ngapuhi elder David Rankin. “Traditional Maori leadership is actually sharing of power. Our Pakeha politicians could actually learn a lot from the Maori Party – we could see a Cunliffe/Shearer partnership.”

Mr Rankin says the new style will also get support from Maori voters – support that’ll be needed come election time.

But if it works for the Maori Party when they have three MPs – well, what if they have four MPs? Or five?

What is the limit on leader numbers, when we do things the traditional Maori way?

Meanwhile, it should be observed that Archbishop Richardson is replacing Archbishop David Moxon who is stepping down next month to become the Anglican communion’s chief representative to the Catholic Church in Rome.

It’s too late for Moxon to influence who will replace Pope Benedict by suggesting they make all the cardinals co-leaders of the Roman Catholic Church.

Come to think of that, that is a blessing.

One Pope at a time is surely enough.

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