Point of Order, Mr Speaker? by Selwyn and Rahui Katene
“Tirohia te toka i haua mai ai.” [“Look to the rock from which you were hewn.” Isaiah 51:1]
Shane Jones’ quote really gives the core of this book which is published at an opportune time, with New Zealand 2017 elections approaching.
Eight current or former Maori politicians from different political parties recount their leadership experiences, and discuss the way their lives have progressed. This book displays the Maori political forum as it is living and evolving. Paula Bennett, Te Ururoa Flavell, Hone Harawira, Tau Henare, Shane Jones, Nanaia Mahuta, Hekia Parata, and Metiria Turei are included.
So you have little or no idea about the members of Parliament who also happen to belong to Iwi Maori? Here is an excellent book to give an extension in awareness to not only the novice approaching ngã mea Maori (things pertaining to Maori) but also broadens the knowledge understanding of a people and culture of Aotearoa for those who are more aware.
Each chapter lays out the origins and influences which developed these intelligent, well-educated young individuals who offer up their aspirations fearlessly. Training, education, life experiences, successes and failures are outlined in a straightforward manner.
Honesty and frankness shine from each chapter. The individuals chosen to contribute to this publication have given clear and concise outlines of their backgrounds, upbringing and give credit to their many mentors who contributed to the development of each individual before they became activists or parliamentarians. The men and women who supported these politicians form complete list of those who are(or were) the movers and shakers in Education, Political and Social life of New Zealand spanning years before the Second World War until the present time. What a colourful pathway they cover! This is a great record of Maori progression in recent past activist times.
Shane Jones, Hekia Parata and Nanaia Mahuta stood strong on their Marae, with plenty of oratory chances and great association with their rohe (home territory). They have credentials of birth and standing which add to the pressure of their positions. Public speaking comes naturally.
Tau Henare, always the class clown, had been always intended for his political post but gave it little thought or real value but still wants to motivate those who will follow.
As Te Ururoa Flavell says, many of the general public don’t fully understand the intricacies of situations facing Maori MPs. Within the stories situations are outlined with understanding as each individual works to keep a sense of balance between whanau and parliamentary duties. Establishing alliances is very important, both at work and behind the scenes with Iwi as whanau dynamics can be complicated. The modern political leaders entered an environment which is adversarial, and can be hostile, but there is a need to work on their kaupapa (values, principles, plans) and maintain the best fit for their whanau and iwi. Inherent in this is a desire to whakakpiri te iwi (bring them together.)and effect change for their iwi.
It is impossible to fault the passion and commitment towards improving the status of Maori within the country as a whole even if one does not always agree with the process.
Point of Order, Mr Speaker? is a medium through which New Zealanders, both Pakeha and Maori, are able to come to a better understanding of their political representatives… their human frailties honestly discussed, their own beliefs and aspirations… and their passions.. their differing areas of expertise. These representatives have come from different backgrounds within iwi but stand tall as leaders of their generation, as they endeavour to carry forward the kaupapa tuku iho. (Values inherited from Maori ancestors)
As a footnote: Rãhui Katene and her husband Selwyn approach this book from a strong base because Rãhui is the Member for the Maori Party of Te Tai Tonga consequently the Authors/Editors experience all the same pressures and exposure of Political Life. I enjoyed the book.
REVIEWER: Sonia Edward
TITLE: Point of Order, Mr Speaker?
PUBLISHER: Huia Publishers