Transcript: Agenda IV With Shane Jones

Published: Mon 8 Sep 2008 10:34 AM
Agenda IV With Shane Jones
Transcripts copyright to Front Page Ltd and courtesy of TVONE and Agenda
RAWDON Forty seven years old Shane Jones Labour List MP Shane Jones has already been picked out by a pundit as a potential future leader of Labour, his rank of 16 on the party's list shows that in three years in parliament he has made a huge impact, but now he may be even more important to Labour, as if the party's to form a government after the next election it will need the Maori Party and Mr Jones is a prominent figure in Maoridom having run the Waitangi Fisheries Commission and he's with Guyon Espiner now.
Kia or, let's start with Treaty issues, we've seen this week the deadline for historic claims to be lodged to pass, that has gone now, does that mean that we're over the era of Maori grievance and that we can actually move on to something new on that horizon now?
SHANE JONES – Labour, List MP
Why in particular we supported it and it goes back to 2005 is it drew a line under the sand, it will divert and capture the attention of Maori leadership that this is not an endless process and that’s why we agreed that it ought to happen and the fact is that Dr Cullen has been able to shepherd very expeditiously a lot of these big claims through shows that the end is in sight.
GUYON And what will that mean though, will we see less focus on the past, lest focus on grievance and more focus on opportunities because of that passing do you think?
SHANE Yeah I think that the Maori renaissance rewarding the accentuation of a separate identity and an accent on the past because the whole grievance process was about trying to unravel historically what happened, and once the asset transfers and the legitimisation of iwi status grows and matures people will turn more I think to nationalism and enlarging pride and offering something to New Zealand identity that over the last 25 years might have been seen as exclusively Maori, there's no future for that type of thinking.
GUYON When you look at the sum paid out many speakers on this issue think it's a pitiful sum at roughly a billion dollars, roughly what you spent buying back the railways, I mean have Maori been adequately compensated in this process?
SHANE Well this is a political process and the process has needed to take place with some nudging for the courts, but it's a political goodwill process as well and I think that Ngaitahu and Tainui they’ve done really well in growing their assets etc and will never satisfy everyone, but look if New Zealanders have bought into it and acquiesced even in talkback country then it's a good outcome.
GUYON Is that the major asset base for Maori and shouldn’t the Labour government have been doing more to provide economic opportunities. If you look at the migration Maori are going to Australia in droves like everyone else.
SHANE Well I've got a son in Perth so I don’t need a lecture about that. The reality is our greatest asset base are our people, as the famous Maori saying Hetangata Hetangata it's people it's humanity, but each tribe has wanted to create a legacy and an endowment and grow its land, some modest geothermal interests and fisheries and I think it builds a good platform upon which the tribes can assure themselves that they’ll have an ongoing existence but the real test for New Zealand is what to do with 15% of our population, young men and women of Maori descent who continue to lag behind in key education areas.
GUYON Why did your son go to Perth?
SHANE Well my 23 year old went with my brother and he was told by his partner it's time to leave the nest go out and grow up and my whanau and people from Kaitaia Awanui a number of shearers have been going to Aussie since the 60s and 70s.
GUYON Sure but does that worry you that a lot of young Maori in particular are going to Australia to earn more money, and to pay less tax?
SHANE Yeah the reality is that for as long as we've got this easy transmission over the Tasman people will come people will go, I personally believe my own Te Maiti after he's grown up a bit and maybe earned a bit of dough or got some commonsense will come home and join the rest of the whanau.
GUYON Okay, you’ve talked about the dangers of separatism in the past, you’ve talked an criticised the Maori Party for that to some degree, isn't the very epitome of that, the existence of separate Maori seats?
SHANE Well at the end of the day it's up to Maori voters to determine whether they want that separate franchise. What I've railed against is this notion of Maori sovereignty in such a small country as ours that we can allow a seed of that nature to grow. Now I'm all into Maori pride, Maori language, Maori assets, but I draw the line on a separate Maori sovereignty and I will never in a million years agree with anything of that nature.
GUYON Do you see a long term future for the Maori seats?
SHANE Well I think that the quality of the Maori politicians to be direct is going to have a major impact on the durability of the seats, for example a lot of Maori switched off politics in the period of time where Tau and Tem joined up with Winston and a lot of Maori switched off mainstream politics etc when the claims were gathering in momentum they felt that was a better way for the expression to take place, but the Maori seats will exist for as long as the Maori voters feel that’s what they need to participate in parliamentary politics.
GUYON Why are Maori voters walking away from the Labour Party and giving those seats to the Maori Party?
SHANE Well I think the Maori voters are quite strategic actually, they know that they’ve got two shots, they can give equity vote obviously to us and what you might call the Rangatiratanga, some form of specific Maori identify expressed through the Maori seats etc so it's a big task for us to win them all back.
GUYON You seem to be quite comfortable with that, party vote for Labour, electorate vote for the Maori Party?
SHANE Well I'm wanting to see all the Maori seats come home back to Labour.
GUYON That’s not going to happen though is it?
SHANE Well that’s up to the people Guyon, that’s up to the people, got a good candidate in the North but I do say everyone I go you’ve got two votes, we want both of them but bear in mind if you want a Labour government then you must at all levels ensure that we get your party vote.
GUYON Do you think that the Maori Party is going to be in a position of kingmaker possibly after the election?
SHANE Well I don’t want to step into that treacherous territory but I'm not so arrogant as to completely write them off, I mean we're going to vigorously contest the seats and how a government of the future is formed will depend who's still left standing.
GUYON Yeah but you can do the maths like anyone else, they surely are going to have a pivotal role aren’t they?
SHANE Well if they're there naturally we would look to them to tautoko and come back to Labour because that’s where the vast majority of Maori voters believe their future politically lies.
GUYON So you foresee working in government in some way with the Maori Party?
SHANE Well let's see how many are still left standing, we've got some very strong candidates and there's a lot of rumour mongering going around that mataamua, Parekura Horomia is going to face a stiff challenge from Derek Fox, well the reality is he beat Derek once he'll beat him again.
GUYON Hone Harawira called the Labour government a coalition corpse and he said they're gone and he said anyone associated with them has gone too, I mean that doesn’t indicate that there's a very good relationship between Labour and the Maori Party at the moment, what is that relationship like?
SHANE Well Hone's capacity for alliteration is inversely related to his comprehension of the facts that’s usual Hone Harawira politics, he's from the same tribe as me but the reality is he's just – he's stirring he's trying to make a name for himself within the electorate etc.
GUYON That’s not what you say though is it Shane Jones when you're about to actually work alongside another party is it?
SHANE But the people who hold the power in the Maori Party are Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples not Hone Harawira.
GUYON But why would be say something like that if he was prepared actually to work with you guys?
SHANE Well I've been told that Hone was misquoted and Hone feels very embarrassed because in a Maori sense it's called a karangamate – if you describe someone as a corpse you're courting the very misfortune for yourself and actually we haven’t heard him say anything publicly since that very unfortunate and judicious remark.
GUYON They will be potentially in a pretty good bargaining position, they may want the Seabed and Foreshore legislation repealed, National may well give them that, would you?
SHANE Well the Seabed and Foreshore legislation for Te Whanau Apanui and Ngati Porou is actually working and there's no agenda whatsoever to rewrite that script.
GUYON So if the Maori Party came to you and said we can work with you guys but the price of power is the Seabed and Foreshore you'd say no?
SHANE You know I really feel that the sting has gone out of that issue, I think it was hot three four five years ago and gosh I was the Chairman of the Fisheries Commission at the time and we funded the litigation, I actually called it the Lost In Space project which unfortunately was one of my less wise observations, but the reality is that there's no longer the same level of pressure or intensity around that issue and I'd be very surprised if they really are so hot and bothered about it.
GUYON Okay we talked about the Maori Party as a potential player in coalitions, you're in a pretty strong relationship with New Zealand First at the moment, is Labour do you think being tainted by its association with Winston Peters right now?
SHANE Well I think what the Prime Minister has said let the process play out, I'm told that the Privileges Committee…
GUYON Yeah but I'm not asking you about the process I'm asking you about the politics of it, I mean are you concerned are you worried that as New Zealand First flails around that you might be dragged down too.
SHANE Yeah no I think you’ve gotta give the process a chance, I mean the Privileges Committee is gonna report back soon, they may indict, they may exonerate, they may be in the middle and really everyone has rushed to judge Winston and his team, gallows material without completing the investigation etc and that’s what the Privileges Committee amongst other things is doing.
GUYON Do you want New Zealand First to be returned to parliament?
SHANE Well that’s up to the voters.
GUYON Yeah but what ….
SHANE No, no no that’s up to the voters, in the court of public opinion they’ll make a moral perception as to whether or not this is just a whole lot of administrative drama or whether or not there's some other problem at stake.
GUYON I guess I'm asking you whether you think you might need New Zealand First to govern?
SHANE Well let's wait till after that I personally have enjoyed working with Doug Woolerton, Brian Donnelly, Winston Peters when I was at the Finance and Expenditure Committee but at the end of the day mate it's up to the public to make their call.
GUYON Do you trust Winston Peters?
SHANE Well all my dealings with Winston as the Chairman on the Finance Committee etc it was very straightforward, there was nothing tricky about him at all, I never saw anything tricky about him.
GUYON Okay we've talked about some of the future governing arrangements we may see but what about your own future, presumably you didn’t come to parliament to be the Minister for Building and Construction?
SHANE I've enjoyed being the most successful Minister of Building and Construction according to the building industry.
GUYON But you didn’t come there to do that did you?
SHANE No I came with the support of my whanau and everyone of the North I want to win the seat of Northland for Labour, the first person since 1946.
GUYON Is that your only ambition?
SHANE That’s the one I have immediately upon my horizon.
GUYON What other ministerial positions would you be interested in? I mean you’ve got a lot of experience in the commerce as well. As I say you presumably don’t want to just be the Minister for Building and Construction forever.
SHANE Yeah well in the future obviously matters of an economic and even my own people, Maori issues are important, but how it actually works is you outline what you'd like to do and it's the call of our leader and look I was just so lucky within two and a half years or two years whatever it was I got a shot at being number 20 in a cabinet of 20.
GUYON Alright we'll leave it there back to you Rawdon.
RAWDON Thanks very much Guyon. We'll open this up to our panel now, John.
JOHN ROUGHAN – New Zealand Herald
I was interested in your phrase the rangatiratanga vote which is not yours I'm sure it's probably the Maori Party's phrase for their appeal in the Maori electorates, and if I was Maori that would be very appealing to me, the idea that Maori could have a separate and distinct voice in parliament, now why do you oppose that?
SHANE Well no I think the Maori seats give you an opportunity to have a distinctive Maori voice there, but Professor Winiata who's the architect behind a lot of the Maori Party thinking has for a long time pushed the notion that Rangatiratanga, separate Maori political identity can find a home through an upper chamber to our existing house etc and it's what I hear on the marae, a lot of the kaumatua saying you know we've got an equity vote, it's all in Maori obviously but that’s basically what it means and I'd call it an identity vote but they use the word Rangatiratanga vote, and I guess what I'm always reminding people is don’t squander your votes if you want to be associated with the party who will be in power, and fortunately I believe it's gonna be us or it's either gonna be National.
JOHN And from the Maori Party's point of view they should keep those options open shouldn’t they?
SHANE Well I've watched carefully, I've got my whanaunga from the Far North Hone basically writing us out of the script, but I don’t believe Tariana Turia wants to see Labour written out of the script despite the historic disharmony, she's a seasoned politician and I think she will keep her options open.
JOHN And will Labour attempt to drive Maori Party into National's arms in the campaign or will you fight …
SHANE Well John if there is loose language coming from any Maori Party MP that that’s where they're going then we will amplify that message a thousand percent on every marae we visit.
JOHN Because you think that would turn Maori voters away from….
SHANE There are a small number of deluded Maori voters who believe that National Party is not going to get rid of the Maori seats, not going to get rid of MMP, the vast majority of Maori voters know that their interests are best served with Labour.
JOHN Right getting back to the rangatiratanga vote idea, it doesn’t really require a separate upper house I mean having a distinctive Maori party in the single chamber can give Maori all the rangatiratanga presence that they would need.
SHANE Yeah well it depends whether any minority party is associated with the party that has the power which is the party that controls the Treasury and what we're always reminding our people is that it's your vote but do not squander your vote on a party that may be just yapping on the sidelines and Labour from our perspective offers an opportunity to be right in the engine house.
But under MMP don’t people in the electorates there get two banks for their buck by voting for the Maori Party and Labour.
SHANE Yeah it's amazing I mean the Maori voters rightly or wrongly showed the last time round they gave the majority of the party vote to us Ropu Raepa, Labour, and they dallied with yeah four Maori MPs who now comprise the parliamentary wing of the Maori Party, so although we're struggling to enrol a lot of our young people back on the role, Maori voters they've got it pretty sussed.
BERNARD But isn't that a clever strategy for Labour if not to say it publicly to allow it to happen and assume that the Maori Party in its heart of hearts will never go with National.
SHANE Well that’s their call but if I hear one single Maori Party MP saying they're going with National then rest assured it'll be fire hydrant pressure upon our people to ensure that they never ever have that chance.
JOHN Why are you not standing in a Maori seat?
SHANE I came into politics and I always wanted to stand in Northland and be the first person who won the seat of Northland I think since 1946 or something and obviously the way I grew up I mean Maori grandmother, Dalmatian Welsh ancestry, intensely proud of my marae my language my culture, but I've also been brought up to be very proud and affectionate towards my Dali and Pakeha relations as well.
RAWDON Are you gonna win it this time round?
SHANE Well I'm gonna take it very, very close but John Carter's been there since 1987 in Keri Keri they're looking for a change it just depends how many of my own Maori voters who are on the general role get up and support their cousie Shane Jones.
JOHN What do you think Labour could give the Maori Party in a post election bargaining session, what do you think would be the most appealing thing Labour could offer the Maori Party to support a Labour government?
SHANE It's sort of treacherous territory, we haven’t had the election, there's no point conducting coalition discussions but it's one thing that I do not believe is as intensely interesting as it was three or four years ago and that’s the Seabed and Foreshore. I think now that some of the bigger iwi such as Ngati Porou have done the deal and what we don’t want to do is really drag ourselves back incessantly into that territory. The whole purpose of drawing a line in the sand in relation to the settlements is to move people into economic empowerment and focus more on our contribution to New Zealand's overarching identity and let it be blended with elements of indigeneity but go forward together, if we don’t do that really there's no future.
BERNARD I was interested that your son is living in Perth, I've got a couple of brothers myself living in Australia, do you think this government has done enough to stop this drain of our people as you say the most important thing across the Tasman because there's plenty of people who say it hasn’t done enough.
SHANE Well you know if we use – my wife won't thank me – but if we use my young fellow as an example, he was working in the building industry and it's not the government setting the rate of pay in the building industry, and what he was able to earn by going to work as a young builder in Perth etc was inversely related to what he was getting from firms and it's not us setting the wages it's the building firms.
BERNARD But it's the government who sets the rules which create or don’t create productivity and this government has been woeful in building productivity which drives that wage growth and keeps those people from going to Australia.
SHANE Yeah but Bernard I mean the construction sector historically has had a boom bust, we've just gone through a big bubble and it did boom for a while and now it's going down. I think in some areas wages are competitive but the reality is there's a construction boom in Aussie and I just can't imagine how New Zealand's ever going to ….
RAWDON What's your son earning there?
SHANE It's either 38 or 42 dollars an hour.
RAWDON Aussie dollars?
SHANE Yeah yeah, I think they're associated with building some sort of mining town yeah so long live India and China's appetite for the Australian quarry I spose.
RAWDON Do you think that Labour could learn something by looking at how Maori business has conducted itself in this country?
SHANE Well there's one thing I'm intensely proud about Maori business, it's the fact that they're there for the long term. Now people get disappointed about the returns on our land but once Maori end up with a business whether it's fisheries, land or forestry, either by dint of strategy or by the complicated law those assets are not easily alienated, and they are the classic long term New Zealand business and I actually think that people who invest for the very long term here then they have the confidence to invest in productivity, then they have the confidence to bring people through and the CNI deal the forestry one thing Kiwis should be happy about Bernard, that will remain perpetually that land in Maori ownership, come back in 50 years it won't be Brierley's job or a Fay Richwhite job it'll still be owned by New Zealanders.
BERNARD But one of the complaints about some of the iwi business groups is they’ve over invested in land at the expense of not investing in technology and education in their own people which will truly drive productivity. One of the problems we have in New Zealand is that we've over invested in land and property which haven’t been as productive as some other investment …
SHANE I think that’s a fair cop that if we call for the State to invest in Maori education better we should get off our own butts and ensure that that has an equally high level of priority either in our actions or in our rhetoric, I agree there.
JOHN I want to raise this latest Treaty involving the forestry and the effect of the Emissions Trading Bill on it, is this opening up a whole new vista of new sort of claims where people can revisit deals with the government if the government does things as governments always do which affect the value of land?
SHANE Well there is the Ngai Tahu stauch at the moment and Dr Cullen has said okay I'll appoint an independent appraiser to look at the facts whether or not Doug Graham did or didn’t know, but I really do feel once you settle a claim then you ought to be bound by the same economic regulatory framework as your competitors from other firms, you’ve gotta join the race that’s going to grow New Zealand's wealth, New Zealand's prosperity and New Zealand's identity and don’t use the fact that you have a Maori claim to constantly drive a wedge, use the assets to create wealth to educate the people and make the whole nation prosperous.
JOHN And that isn't the view in Maoridom at the moment is it?
SHANE No I think that what he Ngai Tahu stauch shows is that if there is either bad faith or if there is an opportunity for game playing then you can expect some of those iwi to do that, but I really feel that the rank and file Maori they’ve moved beyond it, they really are concerned now more about their young people, community empowerment, community security, and most of the tribes have leaders who just want to get rid of the grievances, get an asset base and get on with life.
BERNARD I attended a Maori Development Conference a couple of months ago and one of the refrains that came out of that was that the government was gobbling up so many of the talented young Maori people and employing them as bureaucrats rather than producing wealth for their own groups, do you think that’s a concern that many of the bright talented people who've come out of the iwi are now working for government departments ticking boxes and signing off applications?
SHANE Well I think anyone who does a stint in the civil service provided that they see it as a stepping stone, it's a useful body of experience, but I don’t think any tribe invests money in Maori education just to have all of their rangitahi become civil servants, neither do they want them to disappear into the corporate world and forget that they're Maori, they want them to be proud of their identity, use the skills that enhances wellbeing and wealth and hopefully those skills will come home and grow assets and grow resources back where they come from, I think that’s the majority of the feeling but of course if they're like my son and they stay in Aussie too long that'll be rather difficult to do.
RAWDON Okay, Shane Jones, thank you very much for coming in, we do appreciate it.

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