Debate on Digipoll data – Transcript

Press Release – TVNZ

TRANSCRIPT Debate on Digipoll data 2nd of October, 2011 Scotty Morrison Welcome to this one hour special. With the general election just 8 weeks away we’ve asked Maori voters which parties and politicians are winning their support. We approached …

TRANSCRIPT
Debate on Digipoll data
2nd of October, 2011
Scotty Morrison
Welcome to this one hour special. With the general election just 8 weeks away we’ve asked Maori voters which parties and politicians are winning their support.
We approached a thousand voters in the four weeks leading up to September 20th. 655 were registered on the Maori roll.
To discuss the results we have a panel of politicians and experts and Shane Taurima to keep them all in line.

Shane Taurima
Kia Ora, joining us is Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, Labour MP Shane Jones and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira. And crunching the numbers we have political scientists Rawiri Taonui, Maria Bargh and commentator Willie Jackson. Thank you all for coming in. Let’s start with the big question, the Party vote.

Scotty
We asked if an election was held today which Party would you vote for.
Labour come out in front on 38 percent, Maori Party gained 22 percent, National on 16, ahead of Mana on 8.5, Greens made 6.5 and NZ First 5%.

Shane
Tariana Turia let’s start with you. A drop by 14 points since our last Digipoll back in January but 16 points since the 2008 election. Are you surprised, are you disappointed?

Tariana
I’m not surprised because the Party vote has never been something that the Maori Party have worked hard to get though this time we clearly would’ve liked to have done better because this time we are focusing on the Party vote but we’ve always focused mainly on the electorate vote.

Shane
There has to be some level of disappointment because you’ve had a tough year. You’ve lost an MP, some Party members, some arguments around the cabinet table. And our poll today says you’ve lost some Party vote support

Tariana
Well we’ve got around 7 weeks to the election, that clearly indicates to me that we’ve got to get out there and prepare a message to our people that give them confidence in the Maori Party to give the Maori Party their vote.

Shane
Are you surprised that half of the support has gone to the Mana Party?

Tariana
No, I think it was always going to be inevitable that there would be votes lost to the Mana Party.

Shane
Hone Harawira let me ask you about Maori Party support. Are you surprised that they’ve lost some support?

Hone
No, I think Tari’s explained it quite well. I think that Maoridom were disappointed in the difference of opinion between myself and the rest of them and they will be particularly disappointed to find out how much it cost the Maori Party. I think they’re disappointed in the relationship between the Maori Party and ACT now that Don Brash has come back in. Maoridom would have expected the Maori Party to say that’s it. We will not work with this guy and we do not like his anti worker, anti beneficiary anti Maori legislation.

Shane
The government responsible for the so called anti beneficiary anti worker has doubled the support that the Mana Party has according to our poll. Are you surprised at that? National are on 16%, Mana on 8%.

Hone
If Mana’s registering at 8% after we’ve only been going for a couple of months and we haven’t even announced who all our candidates are, I think we’re doing exceedingly well right now. The nomination dates don’t close for some time yet, by the time we get our full list up and we’re ready to roll I think you will see that increase hugely.

Shane
So will you be disappointed if you don’t close that gap or exceed the Party vote with National?

Hone
Look, I couldn’t give two stuffs about National, when you’re focussing on the people at the bottom end of the economics spectrum which is where Mana wants to be Maori, Pacifica and non Maori as well. We really don’t care what National’s support base is, we’re after those who are in desperate need in this country.

Shane T
Shane Jones you must be happy because Labour has held their support and they’re slightly up on the last poll.

Shane Jones
Well Labour in Terms with its relationship with Maoridom has morphed increasingly into a Party vote entity. Our people worked out pretty quickly, as Kelvin & Hone’s foray at the bi-election showed, you could actually get 2 for the price of 1. And people shouldn’t underestimate those Maori that do vote, of course not enough vote, that they’re pretty sophisticated. That they can get a social equity Party and they’ve got a choice into the quality of personality they like in their electorate.

Shane
But is that just what Labour wants? Do they just want the Party vote or do their candidates want that electorate vote as well?

Shane J
We’re professional politicians, we have great egos. You put yourself up, of course you want to be voted in but at the end of the day MMP is not first past the post, you put your professional credentials forward as an individual and then you go out there and promote your policies. We will be going for both votes because we think that’s the best way to stop John Key forming a government with the Maori Party but at the same time we realise that Maori voters have quickly worked out that under MMP you’ve got choices.

Shane
Interestingly though Labour hasn’t picked up any support that has been lost from the Maori Party.

Shane J
Helen Clark showed us in 2002 you can lose within 2-3 weeks 10% of your support. In 1996 when she went from 18.5% up to 29.5% so in 2-3 weeks things can rapidly change. So thank you for the Digipoll results but for the rest of us pros we just learn to live with these poll results and get on with the mahi.

Shane
Ok lets have a look at the electorate vote and remember at the time of the poll NOT all parties had announced their candidates.

Scotty
We asked which Party would your chosen electorate candidate be likely to come from. This time Maori Party took the lead at 37.5, Labour just behind at 35, with the other parties trailing well behind

Shane
Tariana let’s begin with you, it’s neck and neck with Labour but you’ve dropped 6 points since the poll in January. Why is that?

Tariana
I think it’s the perception that’s been created around the Maori Party about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and our relationship with the National Party. I just want to clarify one thing; we don’t have and never have had a relationship with ACT. Our coalition arrangement is with the National Party not with ACT. I think there have been particular perceptions created around our relationship with National which of course means that our people who have had a long history with Labour despite the fact that Labour has never produced for them, they are starting to think that the best bet for their buck is with the Labour Party.

Shane
Hone, do the results show that it’s a two horse race between Labour and the Maori Party.

Hone
That’s difficult because we haven’t even announced all of our candidates by the time this poll came out. If you’d put names in for Te Tai Tokerau you’d see very clearly that Hone Harawira is clearly ahead of Kelvin Davis and the other guy.

Shane
Now when we break down the electorate vote into individual electorates the sample size reduces which means the results really only indicate trends but there were some pretty interesting trends.

Scotty
In Te Tai Tokerau – it was Labour in front on 30 percent, Mana just behind on 28.6% and Maori at 22%

Shane
Now Hone I know you have just said that if we had have named the candidates and we didn’t but the poll does show that Labour could come through the middle and take the seat.

Hone
Yes, that shows that I’m not working as hard as I should be in the Tai Tokerau, it means there’s a lot more work I have to do at home, it means the issues on a national issue have to be put on the shelf and I go back home and do the work I’m noted for around the kura, around the work trusts, around the beneficiaries.

Shane
Some commentators have said that you’ve over stretched yourself and you’ve lost touch almost with the electorate.

Hone
Sure, that’s a criticism I accept, it’s something I have to pick up my game on.

Shane
Will you be staying in the electorate? Tariana – Are you surprised with that result? Some commentators are saying that Mana and Maori will eat themselves and Labour will come through the middle.

Tariana
I never see the Maori voters as only being split between man and the Maori Party. The fact is that the Maori vote is quite volatile and I believe that for the first time in a very very long time our people are starting to think more politically about where their alliances lay and I think that’s exciting cos we haven’t actually seen that a lot in the past. When our people voted for Labour they voted with their feet, they didn’t vote by thinking about what was important to them or even what Labour had ever done for them and now the perception has changed considerably and I’m pleased about it.

Shane
Would you contemplate doing a deal with either Labour or Mana to avoid splitting that vote?

Tariana
No because the Maori Party is the only Maori Party in parliament. We are the only Party that clearly is there to only represent the interests of our people regardless of where they sit on the economic scale. So no we wouldn’t.

Shane
Can I put the same question to you Shane Jones. Could Labour contemplate doing a deal with either Mana or Maori Party to avoid splitting that vote?

Shane
The first thing I need to say to what Tari has very lucidly outlined is that they are an appendage whether we like it or not of the National Party, that’s the first thing. And they’ve done what they think is the best thing in the long Term interests in the Maori Party, she may be proved right. On other thing I’ll say, it’s open slather. Not enough Maori vote but those who do vote have sussed out that I don’t’ have to follow what happened in Winston’s time, it’s an open game which is a little un-nerving.

Shane
And we do have some results; let’s have a look at the seat you’re contesting, Tamaki Makaurau. As you can see it looks like Dr Sharples will keep his seat.

Shane J
Well a bit like Hone we’ve got to focus more on where people are. There’s I think 50% of the population in the Tamaki seat of Maori descent are under the age of 23 that’s the first thing. The responses I get on the ground are a lot stronger than that, Pita has a very strong personality but I’m not without a personality myself but we’ve got to be always doing 2 things , promoting credentials that we are an alternative government and at the same time not getting into the triviality of politics, promoting ourselves personally.

Shane
How do you gain support when you’re out there criticising the Waka Maori that’s being promoted as quite a great kaupapa for rugby world cup?

Shane J
What’s the population of Ngati Whatua o Orakei? The size of the Ngati Whatua population is small when you look at the broad issues; I’m there for all the broad concerns of Maoridom.

Shane
So you’re snubbing Ngati Whatua

Shane J
When 2 million dollars was tossed out, nothing else happened for any other community of that nature in Tamaki Makaurau or anywhere else in Maoridom, it’s a legitimate issue to highlight because it was a political gift given to Pita.

Shane
It’s your approach. You are marginalising the voters here in Tamaki Makaurau. We’ve been down and seen the waka for ourselves and it looks great.

Shane J
I think I’m attacking a lot of interest in the issues that I raise, I’ve moved on from the tapa waka, it was an issue that I highlighted, in created quite a bit of excitement, it annoyed a few people, that’s Politics.

Shane
Let’s move on to the Waiariki Seat. Hone, you have just confirmed Annette Sykes so we’re going to take a look now at the results and she’s got a lot of ground to pick up and I know you’ve just announced it but she’s 40 percentage points behind Te Ururoa Flavell

Hone
We do but I was heartened. I’ve just come from a public meeting in Tauranga and there was 120 people there to support Annette. I’m picking up that sort of ground swell support for Annette from Te Whanau-a-Apanui down to Kawerau, even in Murupara where the president of the Maori Party is from, we had a meeting yesterday afternoon and we had 50 people there so the ground swell is certainly there for her and they’re really keen on the sort of the person she is, she’s strong, she’s vibrant, she’s not the sort of person who just goes along. She’s a fighter.

Shane
I want to look at the Tai Tonga result because Tariana Turia, commentators are saying that that seat is looking quite vulnerable for the Maori Party and I know Rahui Katene has just launched her campaign so what’s your reaction to that result?

Tariana
Commentators are saying that but in actual fact what you’ve got is a really hard working MP. For the first time ever Te Tai Tonga has an MP who has gone right throughout Te Tai Tonga working with her people, she did great work in Christchurch during that period of time. But the other thing is we cannot continue to trade on family names, it doesn’t work anymore and in fact if we think back to where we lost that so the whole notion that because he’s a Tirikatene that’s going to pull all the voters back to a Labour vote, it will not happen.

Shane
Willie Jackson, let’s first of all concentrate on the electorate vote.

Willy Jackson
I think that you have clearly seen that the door’s been opened up a little bit to Labour. If you look at Southern Maori for instance you’re right Rahui Katene’s done a lot of work on the ground for some unknown reason Tirikatene’s ahead by default. If you look at Tariana Turia’s seat for goodness sake are you trying to tell me the minister’s only ahead by 8% of the Labour candidate nobody’s ever heard of? 48% v 40%, another sign that the door’s been open to Labour, coming to Hone’s seat 2% apparently the Labour candidate’s ahead of Hone, doesn’t make sense.

Shane
Can I ask you about splitting the vote? That’s why you chose not to stand for Mana in Tamaki Makaurau.

Willie
It was one of the reasons, but never mind me; in 2008 the Maori Party was looking at 7 seats.

Shane
Rawiri it does seem like the Tai Tokerau result. Potentially Labour could come through the middle.

Rawiri
I agree with Tariana, that there’s a lot of volatility in this poll and I suspect there’s going to be quite a lot of change as we move closer to the election. I want to correct one thing. The Maori Party is down by 20% on the last poll in Terms of the Party vote, it’s also down 15 points on the electorate vote since 2008, that’s a key thing to remember and Labour is also losing Party votes, they’re down by 13 or so since 2008. That Tells us that Labour and Maori Party are bleeding some votes to the Mana Party but the Maori Party shouldn’t be too worried because they had a large buffer in Terms of their majority in 2008. Labour is steady in 3 seats up in 2 and down in 2 and that shows us that volatility. Now what I think it means is that Maori voters have given up on the idea of the Party sweeping all 7 seats

Shane
Thanks
Let’s move onto what you think of the Maori Party’s performance. Scotty

Scotty
We asked do you believe the Maori Party has represented Maori well. Just over half said yes. Next we asked do you support the Maori Party’s decision to vote for the marine and coastal area bill again more than half said yes. We asked if you accept compromise was worthwhile to ensure they had a seat at the cabinet table there was a resounding yes and when it came to claims that the Party lacked energy and its candidates were too old, the majority disagreed.

Shane
Hone are you surprised with those results?

Hone
Not particularly surprised about the issue about the marine and coastal bill because a lot of people I’ve talked to about it are really over it, they think we should move on from it, to the reality 71 of 72 maori organisations was opposed to it, the majority of individual maori submitters opposed it , maori political commentators completely opposed it.

Shane
It’s the voters at the end of the day…

Hone
Sure and I accept the fact that Maoridom has gotten a bit over it but the decision of the United Nations to allow the NZ Government to take that little bit of foreshore and seabed that the maori Party gave back and allowed all statutory authority to stay with the crown has now gone from there all the way to the edge of the continental shelf so it’s been a massive loss that Maori have had to contemplate.

Shane
But don’t these results show that actually debunk a lot of the criticism that you level at the Maori Party, including sitting around the cabinet table, including the marine and coastal legislation, including representing Maori well.

Hone
If you were to ask Maoridom right now, do you think it was a good idea for the Maori Party to vote for the increase in GST, 99% would say no, was it a good idea for the maori Party to stay in coalition with national or that passing anti worker legislation, they’d say no, anti beneficiary legislation they would say no, anti maori legislation, they would say no, Maori would be horrified. The realities are the Maoridom should not support a Party that cling so tenaciously to National. And National have made it quite clear that they are going to go into coalition with ACT and ACT is going to be run by Don Brash.

Shane
Tariana, you’re smiling and that’s because this shows that your message is getting through.

Tariana
I think that our people have got passed this whole thing of where you pick out those things that it suits you to. You look at the whole issue around GST, Hone was with us at the point and he knows as well as I do that National had originally said it would not be touching GST. When we signed up to the coalition that’s what they told us. After we’re getting through some period of time and they’re needing more tax money, they’ve given more back to those who are more wealthy; they then decided to attack GST. We were left in a very difficult position … Hone knows that, so to go out there to people and say we let them. The biggest issue for our people has been the rise in commodity prices so the cost of being able to live every day and buy their kai are the things that are impacting more considerably because believe it or not National did put in a buffer to raise the incomes of those families, the 2%, so it is the commodity prices that are affecting our people

Shane
Bread and butter issues, Shane – Labour has been quite critical of the Maori Party.

Shane J
The issues that you’ve highlighted here are the issues of cultural ideology and they’re yesterday’s issues. The seabed and foreshore has enjoyed it’s? I think Hone’s partially right, I’ll never agree with him fully; the issues at the end of the day that will motivate voters really are the daily grind that Tari has referred to. And I’ve never seen a Digipoll that focuses on the sheer difficulty of a working class Maori family earning between 15K and 25K. Maori media have this love affair with delving into cultural ideology and let me Tell you that issue has come and gone. We are consistently pushing issues to do with cost of living, the quality of life, the rise in commodity prices, it’s a curse, we earn a lot as an agricultural nation and then as new Zealander’s we’re blighted by the need to pay those international prices so come back to the issues that most of us talk about. When we’re on a marae we talk about the icons of cultural ideology and your programme …

Tariana
In Terms of cultural ideology in actual fact what the Maori Party are saying is that culture counts, whether its’ education, health, it doesn’t matter where it is, if we don’t see our cultures in everything that we do, that’s why we’re losing out, whanau ora is about the restoration of cultural ideology, to make us the independent people that we once were, this whole idea that we should be out there Telling our people we’re going to give you breakfast, lunch and we’re going to do all these things for you, those days are up, we need to restore our self belief that we can do things for ourselves, that’s what’s important for our future.

Shane
So how did the Labour Party fare. Here’s what we asked about them.

Scotty
We asked if you thought the traditional Maori voter support for Labour had dropped and 71 percent said yes. We then asked if you thought Shane Jones should take over as leader of the Party and it was a much closer verdict. 46.7 % said yes, 31 % said no and 22% didn’t know.

Shane
Shane Jones, do you like that question?

Shane J
I’m reminded of what they used to say about J.T and Winston so every time you talk about leadership ambitions you can rest assured there’s a chain saw behind you cutting you as you speak, so I’ll just Taihoa.

Shane
OK Tariana Turia, outgoing MP Miti Ririnui said this week that Phil Goff couldn’t relate to Maori and our polls have shown that and Labour needed a new leader.

Tariana
First of all I think they need a remarkable leader that can bind them together in their caucus because that is not happening so they need to consider that. Whether it should be before the election or preparing for the next election and going for the long Term I think that would be their best bet, 7 weeks out from an election not a good idea to replace the leader, it’s happened in the past with them, they had Palmer, then Moore, then Helen in a short space of time. It’s not a good time for them to be imploding so they do need a remarkable leader (Shane – is that Shane Jones?) I think Shane Jones would make a remarkable leader, he’s intelligent, he’s got all the ability that a Labour caucus would need, he’d do far better if he was in a maori Party (Shane – is that an open invitation … much laughter all round)

Shane J
Thank you Tari but I’m in my waka and it’s called Te Roopu Labour.

Shane
Hone, could you work in a Labour Party led by Shane Jones?

Hone
First of all in respect of Shane, I think he’s the most capable politician there in both Maori and in English, sadly I don’t think that they will want to make him the leader because I know a lot of the gays don’t like him, the women are pissed off with him because of the incident that he got involved with not so long ago and also because I suspect that Labour is still inherently racist and don’t particularly want to have a maori as a leader, however when the day comes, in about 2097, I’d be more than happy to work alongside him.

Shane
Now i’m going to stay with just our analysts for our final questions on what you thought of our politicians

Scotty
We asked do you believe Hone Harawira can effectively lead the Mana Party.
More than half said yes. We then asked which Maori MP best represents the view of Maori and Pita Sharples topped the poll at 22% followed by Tariana Turia with nearly 20% and Hone Harawira on 11. The rest all came in under 4%. And as for who your preferred Prime Minster was – no contest really, John Key 33% with the next contender Pita Sharples way back on 7 %

Shane
Shane Jones, Maria Bargh doesn’t think that you’re going to be the next leader but in terms of Tamaki Makaurau obviously there’s a bit battle there for you.

Shane J
Yes, let’s be fair to Papa Pita, he has the advantage of incumbency and he’s got a wide reach. I know he’s fallen out considerably with some of the Mana supporters but putting that aside it was never going to be an easy task but I genuinely believe once these guys come seriously into the race if we can get that vote up to 53% turnout, 60, 70%, then Labour will win that seat. It’s going to come down partly to my credentials but also to the actual turn out on the day.

Shane
Hone, you have to get out there in your electorate. It’s going to be quite a juggling balance for you in your leadership role and your constituency role

Hone
I’m done most of the national stuff and just picking up on a comment that Rawiri made I will now be focussing on 2 possibly 3 seats. I’ll be putting all my energy into Tai Tokerau clearly (you know 5 out of 7) and the other two I’ll be concentrating on, one will be Waiariki and the other one will be determined

Shane
Tariana, let’s give you the last word, Party vote support, bit of a drop there but overall quite an endorsement for you and Pita Sharples and for the Party

Tariana
I’m really pleased because we’ve worked really hard and the kind of resources that have got back into our communities from us agreeing to work with whoever the government is let’s be clear about that, 620 million dollars is nothing to scoff at, something like 2.6 million dollars for every sitting day. I think we’ve done a really great job considering that we’ve been in a time of restraint but we’ve done the very best that we can and I believe that our people understand that.

Shane
Is the election strategy that it looks as if National is going to be the next government and we’re going to be around that table?

Tariana
The strategy is always to try and be at the cabinet table. I think, there were things that were said before about when Labour was polling quite low and were able to lift their vote, probably about 11%, you know you can never tell until you’re close to the election where people are going to put their vote

Shane
If you want to check out our poll results again we’ll have them up on our web site soon. It’s been a fascinating discussion and thanks to our guests, Tariana Turia, Shane Jones, and Hone Harawira and our commentators Rawiri Taonui, Maria Bargh and Willie Jackson.

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