Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Not a new net yet

For a Cabinet reshuffle which was supposed to be about regeneration, the lack of movement in the Maori portfolios is disappointing.

Labour has to seriously address not only winning back the Maori electorates, but comprehensively winning Maori voters' party votes and ensuring it also wins their electorate votes where they are enrolled in general seats. Given the changing demographics of New Zealand society, it cannot afford to concede to the Maori Party.

Parekura Horomia continues as Minister of Maori Affairs with a range of associate portfolios - education, fisheries, social development and employment, and state services. While piling resources into the East Coast is a good tactic for retaining Ikaroa Rawhiti, it falls short as a Maori policy.

New minister Nanaia Mahuta gets Customs, Youth Affairs and is associate minister for the environment and local government. That is a relatively safe way of ensuring she learns how to do the job without major risk.

In local government, she will be working alongside Mark Burton, who keeps the treaty negotiations portfolio. Burton still hasn't made his mark in this role, but given the pressure from NZ First for a review there could be opportunities.

Despite losing their electorate seats, Dover Samuels and Mita Ririnui keep their jobs, Samuels as associate minister of Maori tourism and under secretary for economic and regional development, Ririnui as under secretary to conservation, corrections and treaty negotiations.

If anyone can point to evidence Ririnui has retained his job based on performance, I would like to see it.

Mahara Okeroa gets a promotion, becoming associate minister for social development, arts, culture and heritage, and conservation.


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