National’s opposition to policies which promote equity and power-sharing with Māori, characterising them as “separatist”, are unlikely to gain them as much traction as they have in the past, a right-leaning political commentator has warned.
"It’s not 2005 anymore - it just isn’t," Liam Hehir said in a panel discussion on Q+A.
He argued that the country had moved on from then-National leader Don Brash’s infamous speech at Ōrewa, and National needed to do so too.
“The difficulty National has is that it hasn’t developed a coherent, positive, easy-to-articulate doctrine around Crown-Iwi relations that it can base all of its decisions on, so it can say: ‘Right, well, we are opposed to this specific measure, but here’s what we are in favour [of]’… developing that [doctrine] is going to be a really important way of the National Party getting power again."
He believes that National Party values and Māori aspirations are compatible.
"There is a great conservative case for recognising rangatiratanga and Māori autonomy and localism. The party actually just has to do the intellectual grunt work to develop that in a way that can be readily understood."
Moko Tepania, a Far North District Councillor who helped shepherd through the introduction of Māori wards, called National’s objection to the wards hypocritical.
"I think it’s actually laughable to say that 'we’re going to stand in central government seats but we don’t agree with local seats'."
University lecturer Lara Greaves says the population is changing.
"Ultimately the voters are moving on, the demographics are changing, we’re sort of moving towards that ‘super-diversity’, or the idea that we’re going to have more and more Māori in the population, more and more people from different, like, Pacific and Asian backgrounds as well … People are looking for that positive articulation of, like, how does everything fit together and how do we go forward as a country?"
Watch the full panel discussion on TVNZ OnDemand or in the video above.