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Q + A Interviews By-Election Candidates

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Voxy Newswire
Voxy Newswire
Q + A Interviews By-Election Candidates

Points of interest:
- Harawira: scrap tax cuts for top 10% of earners, use money to create work for Northland Maori
- Davis: tourism largest opportunity for creating jobs for Maori in far North
- Davis: priority to get more Maori into higher education
- Davis: not into ‘harping on about the past’, looking to future
- Harawira: education focus must be on kids under 10
- Davis: says he can turn around Te Tai Tokerau as he did Kaitaia Intermediate
- Davis: Northland needs massive government investment in social programmes, job creation
- Harawira: need independent body to bring Ngapuhi factions together to finalise Treaty settlement
- Davis: expects progress in Ngapuhi settlement over coming months
- Davis: Northland schools need more resources
- Harawira: ‘not fussed if people vote in by-election’
- Harawira: confident he will receive strong voter support






PAUL HOLMES

Hone Harawira of Mana and Kelvin Davis of Labour. So, what are you offering in terms of jobs, Kelvin Davis?

 

KELVIN DAVIS – Te Tai Tokerau Labour candidate

Well, first of all, I entered Parliament to create successful Maori futures, and I make no apologies about education being the pathway, the foundation of all future Maori success, and it’s really interesting to hear those guys saying that education is the way forward, and jobs. If we want well-paid jobs, if we want to be successful as Maori, we need to get a good education so that we can go on to get those good jobs.

 

PAUL Yeah, but the Labour Party has held the Northern party seat, as it used to be, for about 50 years. Why would they vote for you, hoping for better education or better jobs? Look at those unemployment—Maori 18-24 in Northland, Maori unemployment’s 30%. 50% of working-age Maori are on a benefit in your electorate.

 

KELVIN Paul, let’s look at the future, though. I mean, we’re looking to the future. We can go on about the past, but I’m about creating successful Maori futures, not looking back and harping on about the past.

 

PAUL Why don’t you give them a jobs policy?

 

KELVIN Well, we do. We do have… Look, if we want jobs in Te Tai Tokerau, there’s one really great area that we could create jobs, and that’s in tourism. We only utilise probably 15% of our potential in tourism. Now, that’s a job-rich industry in the north, and if we invested in tourism right across, it creates opportunities right throughout Tai Tokerau – from the very Far North to the Hokianga, to the Bay of Islands, to Whangarei. If we invest in tourism, there are jobs immediately.

 

PAUL You give us a jobs policy, then, Mr Harawira. Have you got one?

 

HONE HARAWIRA – Te Tai Tokerau Mana Party candidate

Yeah, first of all, tourism, long-term education plans – they’re great, but they’re not going to happen tomorrow. What we need is to get everybody out of bed, engaged in jobs, whether it’s with their community, whether it’s with their hospitals, whether it’s with their schools. We need to do it tomorrow.

 

PAUL Where are the jobs, Hone?

 

HONE Ok. The whole thing about—

 

PAUL They’ll only get out of bed if they have job.

 

HONE Taihoa. The whole thing about the long-term development of the private economy is another issue. But we have the ability right here and now to put every Maori in Te Tai Tokerau into meaningful work in their communities tomorrow. And in terms of where do you pay for something like that? All you do is you take the tax cuts for the 10% of the super rich in this country, you take it back, and you can put everybody into Tai Tokerau to work tomorrow, Paul.

 

PAUL What’s that? Work schemes?

 

HONE Regardless of what scheme it is, if you want to get people—

 

PAUL It’s not sustainable—

 

HONE Hang on, hang on, hang on. We can bullshit all we like here, I think, Paul, about sustainable jobs and all the rest of it. The fact of the matter is people are unemployed now, and they want jobs tomorrow. Kelvin’s right – if you want families to be strong, want them to be healthy, then you’ve got to get people engaged in work, you’ve got to get fathers coming home and feeling positive about what it is that they’re doing. It might be short-term work, it might be community work, but at least it’s work, and it’s positive for the community.

 

PAUL Is this a dispirited electorate? You’ve spoken about people spending all day in their pyjamas and so forth. Is it a dispirited electorate?

 

KELVIN Look, I heard on TV the other day that we’re the basket case of NZ. Now, if that’s the case, there needs to be some massive investment in Te Tai Tokerau so that we do create jobs, so that we do create a plan for the next 30 years—

 

PAUL But who creates the investment?

 

KELVIN Well, the government, because it will see through a number of governments, it will see through all the MPs, but we need to have a plan for the future. We can’t just say that people need to get out of bed and there’ll be jobs for them. That’s just unreasonable. There has to be an investment in the future so that our kids and our grandchildren have successful Maori futures.

 

PAUL Another very positive thing on the horizon at the moment is the potential of Ngapuhi, the biggest iwi in the country, for a settlement once and for all, probably up to $200 million. One of the bigger settlements. Right up there with the biggest. And yet there seems to be this eternal dissention. Why don’t you knock heads together and get that settlement done?

 

KELVIN Well, we’ve started that. The two factions that are there are starting to come together. Very recently they’ve had meetings, and Jim Bolger has been a facilitator to bring people together. That’s been initiated through the Office of Treaty Settlements with Chris Finlayson, and I think that you’re right. In order for Ngapuhi to make the most of our settlement, we need to be unified.

 

HONE Uh, the issues for Ngapuhi are big issues. We’ve had those who have always maintained the home fires, who are doing their best to hold faith with those who still live at home, but we also have 83% of our people who don’t actually live at home – live in Auckland, live in Wellington, live in Christchurch, live in Sydney, live in Melbourne. There’s a need to bring together Te Kotahitanga o Nga Hapu and the iwi who have the ability to engage all of Ngapuhi. There’s so much talent within Ngapuhi. The problem is we’re not enabling an independent entity to bring them all together. Once that independent entity is in place—It was proposed to be Tuhoronuku, but Tuhoronuku’s currently just a sub-committee of the runanga.

 

PAUL Is this the navel-gazing you talk about? You say you keep going to hui over the years, and there’s nothing but navel-gazing, people going on about grievances and so forth, and people seeing difficulties and impossibilities rather than possibilities.

 

KELVIN Look, we’ve started the process of bringing the two groups together, and that’s happened very recently, and so that’s a positive. And I think that if we can build on that, then we will see a positive outcome over the next few months and years.

 

PAUL When you talk about education – and both of you talk about education being the sound future for Maori – God knows there must have been enough investment in education in your electorate. Decile one schools, of course – you’ve got double what rest of the country has in terms of decile one – are very well-funded schools.

 

KELVIN Well, I wouldn’t say that they’re well-funded, and I doubt if they would agree because of the nature of the issues that they have up in Te Tai Tokerau, that there needs to be, I believe, even more funding and more support. But excellent teachers is the big thing. If we’re going to improve educational outcomes, first and foremost we need excellent teachers, and then the government needs to create those excellent conditions where those excellent teachers can weave their magic, and that’s where we’re missing out. The teachers up in the north don’t actually have the conditions where they can weave their magic.

 

PAUL Is it possible we’ve now gone beyond the pale – that some people can’t get out of staying in their jamies all day, that people are too dispirited, that Maori have given up?

 

HONE You know, that’s why I said, Paul, don’t knock community work, eh? Anything that gets people out and engaged in their community is a positive. If it means helping out at the marae, if it means helping out at the local old people’s home, if it means helping out at the hospital, if it means helping out at the schools, then you’re engaging people in their community. You’re getting their minds engaged, you’re getting them physically engaged. In terms of education, for example, I don’t like the idea that we should wait around for another two or three generations before our kids can get a future. I want our kids to get a future now. I’ve been talking for some years now about a simple programme. I may have mentioned it to you before, and I’d like to see it start with Te Tai Tokerau – that every Maori child in Te Tokerau count well, write well and speak well by the time they’re 10, because if they can do that—

 

KELVIN They need excellent teachers to do that—

 

HONE Taihoa, taihoa. Hang on, Kelvin, if you don’t mind. Because if they can do that, then secondary school, wharekura, college is an option, but if they can’t do that, then we’re wasting our time. Now, John Key said 60,000 children started school; 12,000 of them will leave without any qualifications. That’s not acceptable. We’ve got to take issue, and not generational--

 

PAUL Now, who’s going to win this election? Who’s going to win this by-election, because the north has traditionally punished hard the waka jumper. Matiu Rata was punished, Tau Henare was punished. Are they going to punish you? They elected you as a member of the Maori Party.

 

HONE I’m not overly fussed about whether the people vote in this election, Paul. This is about a matter of principle. I stood—

 

PAUL If they don’t vote, where are you going to be? (LAUGHS)

 

HONE I stood for the Maori Party as matter of principle, but when the leadership of that party betrayed those principles and betrayed the people, it was beholden upon me to step away from that and say, ‘This is where I think we should be going.’ Now, I’ve received support up and down the country and particularly in Te Tai Tokerau for taking that stand. That position has been well supported in all of the polls. I’m comfortable that if I keep doing the work and keep maintaining the commitment I’ve always made to the people of Te Tai Tokerau, that that support will be there come elections.

 

PAUL Why should people vote for you, Kelvin?

 

KELVIN Well, because I stand for successful Maori futures, and I believe that message is resonating around Te Tai Tokerau, that people are saying, ‘Yep, Kelvin has a track record.’ Now, just to go back to the question you asked before about are we beyond the pale. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me Kaitaia Intermediate School, that I couldn’t make a difference to the achievement and the education of the students there, I’d be a very wealthy man. We turned that school around, despite it being known as the school that was most at risk north of Auckland. And it’s just about being focused on what is needed to be done, and it’s no different being a school principal or being a politician. It’s about focusing on the issues, and that’s what I’ll do.

 

PAUL I thank you both very much for coming in.

 

HONE Kia ora, Paul.

 

PAUL (TO HONE) I see you were the one who swore, not me. Thank you very much, Kelvin Davis and Hone Harawira.
 

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