Tamaki Makaurau

The minor parties – some thoughts & questions

The Greens

They ran a blinder of a campaign. Their polling numbers were looking great, as they closed on 15% in some polls. Then they got just 10.02% on the night (although their vote share is likely to rise by at least a small amount once the special votes are counted – Graeme Edgeler estimates to 10.5% if they got the same proportion of specials as they did in 2011).

What happened? Is it a voter turnout issue? Did the Greens actually slump abruptly in the final days of the campaign? Or do the polls have a bias towards the Greens?

Going forward, the Greens have some big decisions to make. They’ve loudly declared on many an occasion that they want to supplant Labour as the major party of the Left. So do they try for a more centrist approach to grow their vote? There were elements of such an approach in their policy of personal tax cuts to offset the effects of their planned carbon tax. If they want to supplant Labour, that’s what they’ve got to do, but will their membership allow it?

For much of the last term, the Greens were the de facto opposition in Parliament, with Labour failing to fire. Yet in the build-up to the campaign, the Greens offered to campaign together with Labour. The offer had a dual purpose: to show a Government-in-waiting, and to try to reduce the relevance of Winston Peters. Do the Greens go hammer and tongs for Labour’s vote share, or do the two parties attempt to work together to present a united front of opposition?

NZ First

Winston Peters is getting old. For most of last term, he was an embarrassment, lurching from one badly contrived attack to another, each one failing to fire; a collection of not-so-smoking guns. The campaign itself seemed to have rejuvenated him. He certainly saw off the young pretender, Colin Craig, and raised the NZ First vote in the process.

Is he good for another election campaign or will this have been his swan-song? If this is his final term, he’ll be leaving after a comeback of six years without baubles. Winston likes baubles, no matter what he might publicly say, so does he try again in 2017 in the hope of one final Ministerial stint?

The other thing Winston wants is for NZ First to continue on after he’s gone. It’s always been Winston First – no succession plan, no contrary views allowed. He’d like nothing better than to prove wrong all of those critics who for twenty-one years have said that once Winston goes, so too will NZ First.

Ron Mark is back and is being touted as a possible successor. However, if Andrew Williams’ allegations about deputy-leader Tracey Martin are correct, then woe betide anyone who sees themselves as competition to her right of succession! Life in NZ First could get interesting…

The Conservatives

Colin Craig got played by John Key, strung along for just long enough, before being thrown under the bus. Nonetheless, right up until the final few days, Craig and his party ran a remarkably focussed, relatively gaffe-free campaign. Despite being out-manouevered on occasion by Winston Peters, the Conservatives grew their vote share to just over 4%.

It wasn’t enough to get them in to Parliament, but it wasn’t a bad result on a night when National made over 48%. If Craig can keep his core team together, then they’ll have a good shot at breaking 5% in 2017.

The Maori Party

The critics said they were finished in 2014. With Turia and Sharples retiring, Mana were going to wipe out Te Ururoa Flavell, and the Maori Party would perish. Well, Flavell’s still there, with a relatively comfortable majority, and Mana is no more. And, assuming the special votes don’t do something odd, Flavell’s brought in Marama Fox with him, so it won’t be an entirely lonely three years.

If Flavell wants it, National would probably give him the Maori Affairs portfolio. Key doesn’t need to in order to govern, but he’ll be looking to keep Flavell on-side through to 2017. It’ll give the Maori Party some policy gains and keep Flavell’s profile up, and the party will look to remain competitive in seats like Tamaki Makaurau and Te Tai Hauauru.

Internet Mana

And that took care of that then…

The Internet Party was nothing more than a vehicle for Kim Dotcom’s ego and vengeance, and with Dotcom admitting that his personal brand poisoned the combined Internet Mana vehicle, the Internet Party will soon be no more. Dotcom certainly won’t be pouring his money into it, and there’s no real reason for anyone to stick around. Laila Harre’s pay cheque disappears, along with what’s left of her credibility.

Likewise, with no party leader funding for Hone Harawira, and precious few alternate sources of income, the Mana Movement is dead. Harawira took a gamble, sick of being a one man band in Parliament, and it all turned to custard. Annette Sykes did her best in Waiariki, but still came up well short, despite having a full three year campaign and Dotcom’s cash. It’s over.

ACT

Duncan Garner summed it up best when he described David Seymour as being like a five year old about to start High School. Despite winning Epsom (and by all accounts, Seymour put in the hard yards door-knocking to do so), it’s going to be an awkward and ineffectual three years for ACT. Jamie Whyte remains the leader outside of Parliament (for how long though remains to be seen), with Seymour the fresh-faced novice being the voice inside Parliament. Who do the media go to for comment? No one knows…

How do they rebuild? Lord only knows. Their natural constituency is minuscule, and they hold a seat on National’s whim. It’s not a great basis for growth.

United Future

The writing’s on the wall for Peter Dunne. Despite running against new candidates from both Labour and National, and despite having John Key’s personal blessing, Dunne’s majority is just 930. The only MPs with smaller majorities are Nikki Kaye in Auckland Central (648) and Trevor Mallard in Hutt South (378).

The glory days of United Future are long gone. Once upon a time, the worm turned at Captain Sensible’s whim. Now, the Dunne brand is that of a strange political vampire living out some political half-life.

Rebuilding United Future is a laughable proposition. The only question is whether Dunne goes out on his own terms or waits for the inevitable stake through the heart from the good people of Ohariu.

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Labour candidates’ destiny out of their hands

Consider the Super 15 (or whatever name the competition is currently going by), as the final round of the regular season arrives. Most teams don’t have a chance at qualifying top of their conference, but there’s still a chance of getting through in one of the remaining spots. But various results have to go their way. Team X must lose to Team Y by 23 points. Team M must draw with Team Q. Their destiny is no longer in their own hands.

Come Election Night, there’s a few sitting Labour MPs who might well be in a similar position. This site’s Poll of Polls currently has Labour on 26.0%, with 33 MPs. Let’s assume that Labour gets 33 MPs on Saturday, and look at who might be in or out.

First, some assumptions. Carmel Sepuloni will win Kelston, and Jenny Salesa will win Manukau East. One’s in a new seat, and the other’s a new candidate, but they should romp home.

There are some relatively marginal seats, but it’s likely than not that Damien O’Connor will win West Coast Tasman, Iain Lees-Galloway will hold Palmsterson North, Trevor Mallard will win Hutt South, Stuart Nash will win back Napier, and Tony Milne will win back Christchurch Central.

If those are the only marginal results that go Labour’s way, then Raymond Huo would be the cut-off point on Labour’s effective list. Carol Beaumont will be gone, as would Ruth Dyson (who isn’t on the list, and is dependent on winning Port Hills in the face of unfavourable boundary changes).

But what happens if a few more close races go in Labour’s favour, with Adrian Rurawhe winning Te Tai Hauauru and Peeni Henare winning Tamaki Makaurau? Well, Kelvin Davis and Raymond Huo won’t be returning. And if Ruth Dyson wins Port Hills? Then it’s sayonara to Moana Mackey.

Attempted new entrants Priyanca Radhakrishnan and Tamati Coffey must have initially thought their respective list positions of 23 and 30 were pretty good. With Labour’s current polling though, Ms Radhakrishnan is certainly no shoe in, and even if Trevor Mallard was to lose Hutt South, Adrian Rurawhe and Peeni Henare were to lose their Maori seat campaigns, and Stuart Nash was to fail in Napier, Tamati Coffey would still only be the next cab off the rank.

List MPs such as Sue Moroney, Andrew Little, Maryan Street and Moana Mackey will be hoping that the Conservatives get 4.9%, therefore bumping up the effective Labour Party vote share.

Quite a few on-the-cusp Labour MPs may be spending their Saturday night hoping that their colleagues fail in their electorate challenges…

Meanwhile, in Te Tai Tokerau…

On Monday evening, while Kim Dotcom was busy throwing his credibility under a bus, Maori Television was delivering his party further bad news, in the form of their poll of the Te Tai Tokerau electorate. That poll showed Hone Harawira just one point ahead of Labour’s Kelvin Davis – 38% to 37%. The Maori Party’s Te Hira Paenga was well behind, on just 9%.

Of course, as Harawira said, he’s been in that position before, and won. In 2011, the sole poll of Te Tai Tokerau electorate showed a neck and neck race, before Harawira went on win with a relatively comfortable 6% majority.

If Harawira loses Te Tai Tokerau, the Internet Mana Party is toast. Which meant that the Maori TV poll provides the Maori Party with the perfect excuse to call for some utu-exacting strategic voting, by telling its supporters to vote for Kelvin Davis. After all, Harawira hasn’t exactly been silent about his intention to destroy the Maori Party this election.

At the outset of the election campaign, the Maori Party couldn’t risk a declaration of war against Harawira. If they’d openly declared an intention to not field a candidate, or to tell their supporters to vote for the Labour candidate, they risked the possibility that Labour and Internet Mana might engage in strategic reprisals in Waiariki, Te Tai Hauauru and Tamaki Makaurau. Now, however, it’s far too late for such shenanigans from Internet Mana and Labour (not to mention that the Maori TV poll of Waiariki showed Flavell on 50%).

So will the Maori Party declare open war, and call for strategic voting? Hone Harawira certainly seems to think it’s on the cards. At a meeting in Omanaia, he reportedly told the crowd:

“Things have just got real tough for me. I’ve heard that the Maori Party is considering standing their man down and giving their votes to Labour’s [Mr Davis] as well.

“So the fight for this seat has just become the kind I really like, which is us against the rest. I’m upset about it, because it’s tough enough in Parliament on your own. I take it also as a bit of a compliment.”

The Maori Party don’t seem to know exactly what they want to happen. Te Ururoa Flavell stated:

“[Strategic voting has] been a part of our strategy meetings for a while, but the official line is that Te Hira Paenga is standing as the candidate. We’ve endorsed him.”

However, that endorsement wasn’t categorical, with Flavell refraining from confirming that he actually wanted his supporters to vote for the Maori Party candidate: “Everyone in the Tai Tokerau can make their own decisions.”

If the Maori Party want to make an unequivocal declaration of war against Hone Harawira and Internet Mana, they’ve got one day to do so. In the meantime, Harawira is playing the sympathy card…

UPDATE:

And just to complicate matters, Winston Peters has thrown his weight behind Kelvin Davis, describing him as “by far the best person for the seat”. At a meeting in Paihia, the NZ Herald reports Peters as saying:

“I’m from up north. I see the need for some consistently strong Northland voice that is speaking for the interests of this province, that has been largely Cinderella-ised, marginalised and forgotten. And that voice cannot be contaminated with an arrangement by a crooked German that’s been here for five minutes.

“I’ve got no doubt that NZF voters on that [Tai Tokerau] roll are going to be voting for Kelvin Davis.”

Te Tai Tokerau will definitely be one to watch on Saturday night!

UPDATE 2:

Things keep moving at speed up North! Maori TV’s Maiki Sherman has just tweeted that the Maori Party executive have asked their candidate, Te Hira Paenga, to stand down, but that he’s refused.

#MaoriParty in damage control. There is a rift over #TeTaiTokerau. Executive wanted Te Hira Paenga to stand down – he refused.

There’ll be more on Maori TV’s Te Kaea programme at 5.30pm.

Poll of Polls update – 10 September 2014

This evening, we’ve had the latest 3News Reid Research poll released. It’s not great news for National, although they’re slightly up, but it’s necessarily great news for the Left, who are also up.

National climb 0.3% to 46.7%. It’s not a great result, given their latest results from other polling companies that have had them above 50%, but they’ll be glad to be on the increase.

Labour increases 0.2% to 26.1%. It’s an increase… Nonetheless, it’s yet another poll that places them below their 2011 election result. 2011 was Labour’s nadir; they’re looking increasingly likely that David Cunliffe will lead them to a new low. In fact, of the last dozen major polls, ten have had Labour below their 2011 election result.

The Greens were up 0.4% to 13%. Although a Labour/Greens bloc may be up, but that still leaves them more than 7% behind the National Party.

For the remaining minor parties, NZ First rises 0.1%% to 5.9%, keeping them comfortably above the 5% threshold, while the Conservatives climb 0.5% to a new high of 4.7% (in fact, a new high from any major poll, let alone the Reid Research).

Internet Mana stall on 1.7%, as do United Future on 0.1%. Meanwhile the Maori Party drop 0.7% to 1.3%, while ACT loses half their support, dropping 0.3% to end up on 0.4% support.

So here’s how the Poll of Polls looks now:

National: 48.4% (-0.3%)

Labour: 26.4% (-0.1%)

Greens: 12.4% (+0.1%)

NZ First: 5.5% (+0.2%)

Maori: 0.9% (+0.1%)

United Future: 0.2% (nc)

ACT: 0.4% (nc)

Internet Mana: 2.1% (-0.1%)

Conservative: 2.8% (+0.1%)

Based on those percentages, the parties are predicted to win the following number of seats:

National: 60 (nc)

Labour: 33 (nc)

Greens: 15 (nc)

NZ First: 7 (nc)

Maori: 2 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 3 (nc)

Following the Maori TV poll of the Tamaki Makaurau electorate showing the Maori Party candidate 1% ahead of the Labour candidate, I’ve had to consider whether I amend the Poll of Polls to show the Maori Party winning three electorate seats. My conclusion is that no change will be made. With the Maori Party just 1% ahead in that seat, and with 14% undecided, I’m picking the Labour Party’s superior “Get Out The Vote” machine to make the vital difference.

In terms of the parties’ vote share, National slump to their lowest vote since mid-June, while Labour drop to yet another new low, dropping 0.1% to 26.4%.

NZ First creeps up another 0.2% to 5.5%, reaching another high point in this site’s Poll of Polls this year.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives advance another 0.1% to yet another new high of their own of 2.8%. They may have reached their high point this evening of 4.7%, but the Reid Research poll is the only own putting them above 4%, let alone even close to 5%.

Seat-wise, there’s no change. The Right bloc remains on a total of 63 seats, compared to 51 for a Labour, Greens and Internet Mana alliance. The supposed “Kingmakers” – NZ First and the Maori Party – hold a total of 9 seats.

Tamaki Makaurau race wide open

Maori TV yesterday released their poll results for the seat of Tamaki Makaurau, and the race is far too close to call. This is Pita Sharples’ seat, with his retirement forcing the Maori Party to put up a new candidate, Rangi McLean. Despite the interminable difficulty Labour had in finding a candidate, the pundits have long said that  the seat was still Labour’s to lose. Not so, according to Maori TV.

The poll places the Maori Party’s Rangi McLean ahead, but by just 1%. The results are:

  • Maori Party (Rangi McLean) – 28%
  • Labour (Peeni Henare) – 27%
  • Mana (Kereama Pene) – 14%
  • Greens (Marama Davidson) – 7%

Of course, with 14% undecided, the race could easily go either way. Nonetheless, the Maori Party will be more than happy to have their nose ahead in a race they wasn’t supposed to be winnable.

In the party vote, Labour are, unsurprisingly, clearly ahead:

  • Labour – 37%
  • Maori Party – 17%
  • National – 13%
  • Internet Mana – 12%
  • NZ First – 11%
  • Greens – 9%

With the Maori TV polls showing Te Ururoa Flavell streets ahead in Waiariki, and the Maori Party candidates holding slim leads in Tamaki Makaurau and Te Tai Hauauru, the Maori Party have been handed a series of motivation boosters. Despite being written off in two of those seats, and with questions having been raised about whether Flavell could hold Waiariki, the Maori Party are still well and truly alive in the race. If that doesn’t provide a campaign incentive to the troops, I don’t know what would.

Labour finally chooses a Tamaki Makaurau candidate

After much messing about (see here, and here, and here, and here), Labour has finally got around to selecting a candidate for the Tamaki Makaurau seat. It’s Peeni Henare, an MSD business advisor and former sports commentator for Maori Television. (Given the history of Labour’s selection process this year, it was perhaps inevitable that the chosen candidate would have some sort of prior attachment to Maori programming…)

Labour party president, Moira Coatsworth, has described Mr Henare as an “impressive” candidate, but I guess she would say that. However, as an independent observer, it’s a little difficult to get excited about the eventual selection of Labour’s third-string candidate. Candidate #1, Shane Taurima, imploded after the critical TVNZ report into his Machiavellian escapades at the state broadcaster; candidate #2, Julian Wilcox, decided to pass on the position, presumably after watching the local electorate committee turn feral against the national committee; and now, on the third attempt, Labour finally has a candidate who isn’t Will Flavell.

Regardless of Labour’s apparent desire to lose the seat, it seems likely to return to Labour. The Maori Party candidate, Rangi McLean, despite having had a head start of almost a month, doesn’t appear to have been making many waves; while the Green Party candidate, Marama Davidson, has confirmed that she’ll be seeking only the party vote, despite initially hinting that she might mount a tilt for the electorate vote.

The Greens finalise their list

The Green Party have released their final party list, having had the membership vote on their interim list. The top 20 is as follows:

1. Metiria Turei (nc)
2. Russel Norman (nc)
3. Kevin Hague (nc)
4. Eugenie Sage (+2)
5. Gareth Hughes (+2)
6. Catherine Delahunty (-2)
7. Kennedy Graham (-2)
8. Julie Anne Genter (+5)
9. Mojo Mathers (+5)
10. Jan Logie (-1)
11. David Clendon (-3)
12. Holly Walker (nc)
13. James Shaw (+2)
14. Denise Roche (-3)
15. Steffan Browning (-5)
16. Marama Davidson (new)
17. Barry Coates (new)
18. John Hart (new)
19. Dave Kennedy (+4)
20. Jeanette Elley (-1)

There’s really only one significant change from the interim list – Mojo Mathers bounces up five spots to ninth, whereas in the interim list she hadn’t moved at all, remaining in 14th. Evidently, the party membership rates Ms Mathers rather more highly than do her parliamentary colleagues.

Steffan Browning remains in troubled territory. The interim list had him sitting in 16th spot, and although he’s moved up one spot in the final list, that only just gets him back into Parliament according to this site’s Poll of Polls. With the Greens currently sitting on a high of 12.4%, that would see them bringing in 15 MPs, one more than last election and just enough for Browning to squeak back in.

The Greens’ Tamaki Makaurau candidate, Marama Davidson, will be a little disappointed. She’s switched places with Mr Browning between the interim and final lists, dropping from 15th to 16th. On the Greens’ current wighted-average polling, she’d just miss out.

In the NZ Herald this morning, the Greens seem to hint that they’ll be aiming for 15% of the vote, which they estimate would bring in Browning, Davidson and Barry Coates. That’s certainly higher than any poll this year has had them, although they did reach 14.5% in the second-to-last Roy Morgan poll from earlier this month.

Julian Wilcox says no to Labour

I’ve previously said that, with regard to Labour’s candidate for the seat of Tamaki Makaurau, that:

I think it’s safe to say that, regardless of whether Labour reopen the selection process or not, Will Flavell won’t be getting the nomination…”

Turns out Will Flavell might just be in with a chance after all! Following the scratching by Labour of Shane Taurima’s nomination, Julian Wilcox has now bowed out too. Maori Television have issued the following statement today, confirming that Mr Wilcox is going nowhere:

“To clarify his position Julian Wilcox has made an unequivocal statement to Maori Television that he is not seeking political office for any political party in the forthcoming elections and remains committed to his job as GM of news and current affairs at Maori Television.”

Labour Tamaki Makaurau electorate committee had previously requested a review of the national council’s decision not to provide Mr Taurima with a waiver. Perhaps Mr Wilcox thought the idea of running in an electorate where the party’s committee didn’t want you might be a touch unpalatable…

It remains to be seen whether any other big names in Maoridom come out of the woodwork and approach Labour, now that both Taurima and Wilcox aren’t in the running. After all, Tamaki Makaurau is likely to fall to Labour, no matter who the candidate, so a fairly safe political future beckons whoever it is that gets the nomination.

Currently, the situation is that nominations have closed, with Mr Flavell being the sole candidate in the running. If Labour reopens nominations, despite knowing Mr Wilcox won’t stand, then Flavell can definitely kiss goodbye to any hope of success – if Labour really wants him, they certainly won’t be calling for any more names to come forward.

Labour’s issue is that although Mr Flavell seems unlikely to set the world on fire, the longer they wait around, the harder it is for their candidate to hit the electorate and make themselves know. The Maori Party candidate, Rangi McLean, already has a two week head start. If nominations are reopened, that head start will likely be a month. Labour’s Tamaki Makaurau electorate committee have already publicly aired their concerns about the length of time the process has taken to date. Labour doesn’t want to annoy the activists any more than they already have…

UPDATE (20/05/14):

Further to the issue of Labour upsetting the activists, here’s a quote from Tamaki Makaurau electorate committee member Shane Te Pou, as reported in the NZ Herald this morning:

“Head office has got a lot to answer for here. This whole process has been politically mismanaged. We are now about 100 days away from an election and we don’t have a candidate in … one of the most, if not the most crucial seat in the country.”

He’s also stated that the selection process was not open enough and was too dependent on “shoulder-tapping”.

UPDATE 2 (20/05/14):

And the public attacks on the Labour Party by Shane Te Pou continue:

Mike King tweet

Poll of Polls update – 14 May 2014

The new Fairfax Ipsos poll was released this morning, and it’s got some quite different news for National from the last Roy Morgan poll. The entirety of the Ipsos polling was done following Maurice Williamson’s resignation and the most recent allegations against Judith Collins (polling of 1,011 people occurred between 10 and 12 May), and although National has dipped by 1.8%, the party is still sitting on a comfortable 47.6%. That compares to the last Roy Morgan, which showed a 6% free fall to 42.5%.

The bad news for Labour is that they’ve dropped more than National, losing 2.3% and falling back below 30% to 29.5%. The run of recent polls must be horribly disheartening for Labour. Of the last ten major polls released, Labour have been below 30% in three polls, and in only one of those ten polls have they been above 32%.

The Greens are the big winners in this Ipsos, up 2.7% to 12.7%. It looks suspiciously like the Greens have siphoned off several per cent of Labour’s vote.

Of the other minor parties, NZ First is up slightly, but still below the 5% threshold at 3.7%, while ACT is up slightly to 0.9% (not nearly enough to get their leader, Jamie Whyte, in to Parliament). The Internet Party appears for the first time in an Ipsos poll, on 0.6%, while the Conservatives are going nowhere fast on 1.6%.

David Cunliffe’s preferred Prime Minister rating drops 3.9% to 13.4%, but he might take some comfort from the fact that at least he’s not in single figures. Of course, that still puts him 35.2 points behind John Key…

So how does the Poll of Polls look now?

National: 46.0% (-0.4%)

Labour: 31.3% (-0.1%)

Greens: 12.2% (+0.2%)

NZ First: 5.0% (+0.1%)

Maori: 1.3 (+0.1%)

United Future: 0.3% (nc)

ACT: 0.6% (nc)

Mana: 0.6% (nc)

Conservative: 1.7% (nc)

Internet Party: 0.5% (+0.1%)

Based on those percentages, the new seat predictions are:

National: 57 (-3)

Labour: 38 (-3)

Greens: 15 (nc)

NZ First: 6 (+6)

Maori: 2 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Mana: 1 (nc)

The big movement in National and Labour’s respective tally of seats is due to NZ First regaining that vital 0.1% to hit exactly 5.0% and scrape back into Parliament. NZ First’s six seats come at the expense of three each from the major parties.

With a one seat overhang, the centre-right bloc of National, United Future and ACT have a total of 59 seats, two short of the minimum required to govern. However, with the Maori Party’s two seats, they’d just get over the line.

For the centre-left, Labour, the Greens and Mana have 54 seats, well short of a governing majority, and they’d require both the Maori Party and NZ First.

Readers may look slightly askance at National’s drop to 46.0%, despite getting 47.6% in the Ipsos poll. Bear in mind that a significant -1.85 weighting is applied to National’s Ipsos results, given that the poll on places National an average 1.85 higher than the industry average.

It’s worth noting a change in methodology, in terms of electorate contests. To date, I’ve been assuming that the Maori Party would hold Waiariki and Tariana Turia’s former seat of Te Tai Hauauru, while losing Tamaki Makaurau. However, I’m going to side with the gamblers at iPredict, who are resolutely putting their money on a Labour win in Te Tai Hauauru, meaning the Maori Party would win just a sole electorate seat – Waiariki. Under their current Poll of Polls results though, they just manage to bring in an additional list MP, meaning that they currently still hold two seats in Parliament.

Shane Taurima – too many “serious issues”

The endless wait for TVNZs report into Shane Taurima’s activities there is over. It was released at 2.30pm yesterday (copy attached here) and by the end of the evening had resulted in Mr Taurima’s political ambition being kicked for touch for another three years.

Unsurprisingly, it concludes that there was no bias in Mr Taurima’s interviewing or editorial decisions. The accusations of bias from various National Party Ministers were weak to begin with, designed more to embarrass Labour and damage Taurima’s chances of selection than to offer anything substantive.

The kicker for Mr Taurima was the issue of resource use – use of the TVNZ meeting room to host a Labour Party branch meeting, email, telephone, staff time, photocopying and dodgy expense claims – the steps he took while at TVNZ that were designed to help him win the Tamaki Makaurau nomination, and his attempts to keep his activities hidden from TVNZ.

Following the release of the report, Mr Taurima’s view was that it had vindicated him, and that he would be turning his attention solely to seeking the Tamaki Makaurau nomination. It seems that he was hoping against hope that the focus of Labour and his opponents would solely be on the political bias aspect of the report, for which he was indeed vindicated. However, he must have known it was all over once David Cunliffe appeared on the evening news to declare not once, not twice, but three times that the report had highlighted “serious issues”. Labour’s New Zealand Council then met last night and made the decision not to grant him a waiver to stand.

Labour have made the right decision. There were too many cumulative embarrassments in the report to risk allowing Taurima to become the candidate. There was the $333.43 he was asked to repay, after flying up a TVNZ staff member from Gisborne to Auckland to attend a Labour Party meeting – both Labour and National have learned the hard way that the public doesn’t like dodgy expense claims. There was the overt secrecy of his actions, using phrases like “Secret Squirrel” and asking, “Did you change the name of the scan? They may notice it’s come from TVNZ”. And there were the doubt expressed by the report over Mr Taurima’s explanations for various events, indicating the Panel members didn’t find his explanations altogether believable.

The big question now for Labour is whether they reopen nominations. At present, the only viable nomination received is that of Will Flavell – the head of Maori Studies at Rutherford College. However, rumours have been circulating for weeks about the intentions of Maori TV’s Julian Wilcox, who was expected to stand if Taurima was vetoed. Labour Party President, Moira Coatesworth, has said that because the situation had changed, she would expect there would now be others interested in putting their names forward, which seems a fairly clear indication that nominations will indeed be reopened.

Of course, this all prolongs the length of time that Labour is candidate-free in Tamaki Makaurau, giving the Maori Party candidate a continued head start. However, it might not make much difference. Most pundits are predicting that the seat is Labour’s to lose, and one would have to assume that (regardless of any delay) a candidate like Julian Wilcox would be well-placed to take the seat back for Labour.