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John MacDonald: Luxon's done Rātana. Is Rātana done with him?

John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 Jan 2023, 12:23PM
Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell

John MacDonald: Luxon's done Rātana. Is Rātana done with him?

John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 Jan 2023, 12:23PM

I thought Christopher Luxon looked like a fish out of water yesterday at Rātana, where hundreds of people and politicians from across the political divide go every January.

It’s the home of the Rātana Church and the annual gathering is considered to be the start of the political year.

When I say politicians from across the political divide go there, there was one exception yesterday. The ACT party didn’t bother going because David Seymour thinks it’s nothing more than a Labour Party lovefest.

Nevertheless, the other parties were there. And it was, of course, Jacinda Ardern’s last official engagement as Prime Minister.

When I say Christopher Luxon looked like a fish out of water - I say that knowing full well that I would probably look like a fish out of water if I went, as well.

But I’m not wanting or trying to be Prime Minister. And I thought for someone who does want to be PM, and is trying very hard to be Prime Minister, he looked like someone who was turning up and ticking a box.

Rātana. Done. What’s next on the diary?

As others have said, it was clear that Christopher Luxon’s main objective when he turned up was to make it loud and clear that Maori can forget about co-governance if National forms the next government.

I thought it was interesting that, after he spoke yesterday, he told reporters that people are opposed to co-governance because the Government hasn’t communicated it properly and hasn’t got people on board with the idea.

Another thing that hasn’t helped is the National Party’s best mate in Parliament - the ACT Party - re-branding co-governance as “co-government”. You might have seen this on the ACT Party billboards.

I thought it was a typo but David Seymour confirmed to me that that was what it meant to say - because he doesn’t think there’s any difference between co-governance and co-government.

Which is plain stupid, because there’s a world of difference. But back to Luxon’s comments yesterday and his message to the Rātana community that they can forget about co-governance if he becomes Prime Minister.

On one hand, it was somewhat refreshing hearing this from the National Party leader because I think most of us would agree that Christopher Luxon has been very good at saying a lot but not much at the same time.

So that was a nice change. But did he really have to do it there and then? I don’t think so.

If you were cynical, you could be forgiven for thinking that he probably said what he did because he didn’t want Jacinda Ardern getting all the coverage because it was her last official engagement in the top job.

And if you were cynical, you’d probably think he was doing it because he was still brassed off that on the day he was announcing his line-up, the old kindness merchant stole his thunder by announcing she was standing down. The nerve of it all!

When it comes to co-governance, I have mixed views. Generally, I have no problem with it - but I don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.

For example, the  non-elected Ngāi Tahu representatives at the Canterbury Regional Council (ECAN). I don’t think that arrangement is necessary because ECAN pretty much doesn’t do anything without talking to Ngāi Tahu first.

But, generally, I’m a supporter of the concept of co-governance. For the simple reason, that I can’t think why I should be terrified of it or opposed to it. I just can’t.

But there are people who are. And they are the people Christopher Luxon was talking to yesterday. He was talking to them - and he was lecturing to the people directly in front of him.

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