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Bloggers react to NZ Maori Party's proposed trip to Fiji

Bloggers are reacting to proposals by members of New Zealand’s Maori Party who wanted a delegation to travel to Fiji to speak with the country's Prime Minister to better understand what he is trying to achieve.

The announcement came just hours after Fiji was stripped of benefits from the Pacific Islands Forum for refusing to schedule elections by May 1. Maori leaders feel that New Zealand’s troubled relationship towards Fiji needs changing and would like to support their ancestral brothers, the indigenous Fijians which make up two-thirds of Fiji’s population.

(Unlike Fiji’s first three military coups, military leader Frank Bainimarama took power in December 2006 in the name of righting past wrongs against the minority ethnic Indian population that has fewer political rights than indigenous Fijians but enjoys economic success on the islands. )

However, Prime Minister John Key tampered hopes for the meeting. Because the Maori Party belongs to New Zealand's governing coalition, the Prime Minister said his government should speak with “one voice,” meaning no face-to-face talks will take place with Fiji’s Prime Minister until he is willing to move up elections earlier than his intended date of 2014. Maori Party members have suspended an official trip to Fiji, but said a delegation may travel in an “unofficial captacity.”

Fiji’s political blogosphere, which is mostly anti-regime, was unimpressed with the Maori plans from the outset.

Talking Fiji:

The Maori delegation had explained yeterday that the NZ govrnment had ”misunderstood” what Frank and his military regime were doing in Fiji.
It seems they were the ones who had “misunderstood” what Frank was doing.
Thankfully they had the presence of mind to admit they were wrong when they thought Frank was fighting the whole world to safeguard Fiji’s best interests.
Someone must have sat them down and explained to them that Frank was actually fighting the whole world (and the whole of Fiji) to safeguard his own best interests.

Victor Lal, author of the blog Musings on Fiji, writes this in Raw Fiji News:

The agony of the people of Fiji, to a large extent, can be laid at the door of Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Michael Somare (and a few others) who constantly talked of dealing with the anti-democracy gangsters and gun-haw-haw coupsters in the so-called Pacific Way.

The Maori Party’s Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples should go to Papua New Guinea and have a word with Somare, who will give them a better picture of the psychological state of the present goons in Fiji.

He thought he was dealing with brotherly and sisterly Pacific Islanders, only to find out that they were devils in disguise, feasting on their own people.

If Somare had taken a tough stance with Australia and New Zealand, the gangsters might have thought twice before tearing up the 1997 Constitution, dismissing the Judiciary (which also had been propping them up), not to mention being thrown out of the Pacific Islands Forum.

In New Zealand, the planned trip was seen in a much more positive light. But the diplomatic give-and-take within the Key government was criticized.

No Minister calls it “common sense.”

While our foreign affairs poobahs who seem to have captured John Key and Murray McCully continue to insist on ‘elections now, no matter how bad they are’ for Fiji, Mrs Turia suggests we actually sit down and talk civilly with Mr Bainimarama and, in her words, find out what is going on in Fiji.

Adolf sincerely hopes she goes to Fiji. I suggest the delegation should comprise the Maori King (mana) Dr Sharples (cabinet minister) and Lt Col (R) Wira Gardiner. (emminent Maori leader and National Party member)

Mr Gardiner has precisely the right background to put the Commodore at ease during discussions.

A circuit breaker such as this is essential if New Zealand's interests in the South Pacific are to be fulfilled.

Fiji: The Way It Was, Is and Can Be wonders whether John Key’s strategy of only negotiating with Fiji through the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth is the best choice.

I can see John Key's point but why doesn't he accompany the delegation? It would be in line with his familiar hands-on, up-front approach to other issues: a round-the-table dialogue by a down-to-earth pragmatist rather than hands-off bureaucratic negotiations? Unlikely, but it could actually help.

Tumeke takes the proposed dialog into the context of inter-governmental politics within New Zealand’s ruling coalition.

Mactional is an ugly mash sometimes – and the Maori Party's kite-flying on Fiji was another lost opportunity. It was a potentially valuable back channel to the regime in Suva, but it was fumbled. Why did the PM shift his position? Did clumsy MFAT has their fat paws on it, or was it a political botch from McCully? Or was it the Fijian regime that scotched it?

It was the timing the PM could have played with in permitting any delegation that included a Minister of the Crown – enough time to work something out; but now it's all gone. The Maori Party isn't too hot on the diplomatic tango either and has stood on the government's feet because they didn't read the nuances themselves.

Kiwi Blog is one person who admits to being perplexed.

I’m a bit puzzled by the Maori Party stance on Fiji. The original Fiji coups were about preventing the majority Indians from forming a Government. It was about protecting what they saw as the right of indigenous Fijians, and that stance had the support of some Maori activists in NZ.
But the Commodore’s coup is (officially anyway) about the opposite. He is saying he wants to remove any special rights from indigenous Fijians, and replace the constitution which has race based seats.
Somewhat strange bedfellows for the Maori Party I would have said whose entire party is about how there should be special rights for indigenous people.

From Political Editor Audrey Young, blogging at the New Zealand Herald.

John Key hasn't made many mistakes since becoming Prime Minister in November – and those that he has made haven't mattered much anyway.
That changed this week with his mishandling of a possible Maori Party visit to Fiji…
On Sunday Key responded quickly saying a visit by Sharples would be okay so long as it was in a private capacity as Maori Party co-leader and not as a minister representing the Government.
On Monday he had had a change of heart. He said he had talked to Sharples, that he had agreed New Zealand had to have one voice on the issue of Fiji and that he did not believe Sharples would be going to Fiji.
On Tuesday, it became very untidy: Sharples said he might still go and Key said he would stop Sharples from going if he went ahead.
It would be helpful if the Prime Minister had one voice, as well. It should not have taken him long on Sunday to realize that such a trip by Sharples would be problematic for perceptions of Government unity, at the very least.

8 comments

  • hi, don’t forget the Coup Four and a half blog, which is managed by journalists, and has a good following with good comments being made on issues like the above.

    Thank you.

  • As Maori i am watching exactly what our people should have done years ago,but now we are forced through political realms of excepting what ever the government throws at us,decision making in our country is not up to us we have to protest and still get nowhere.
    Its like owning a tv, the government has one hand on the channel changer and the other hand on the power switch.
    Go Mr Bainimarama alot of maori support your views Kia kaha.
    The Maori party have been voted in by their people for their people ????

  • Rod Rosentreter

    I am an Aussie living in Fiji and can see quite clearly that the Fijian Prime Minister is preparing this country for better democratic harmony but yes, it will take time. If Mr John Key has any concern for the truth of what is going on here, then he should accompany the Maori Party members on an official visit to Fiji, with an open mind, and ask the leadership here in Fiji, \Where can we help\. Quite frankly, throwing Fiji out of the Pacific Islands Forum is a childish, school-kid act of, \if you won’t play with me, I won’t play with you\. Grow up you leaders of other nations opposing Mr Bainimarama and act as men and leaders like the fine leader we have here.

  • […] reported here last week, Fiji’s government extended for another 30 days its “emergency regulations” that, […]

  • Quoting what Tai_Nga said, “Go Mr Bainimarama alot of maori support your views Kia kaha”…ummm sori as Native Fijians living in Aotearoa we beg to differ with your views. Have’nt you seen the damage this dictator has done in Fiji? If you have’nt do read Fiji blogs they will inform you better.

    John Key has done a wise move by advising both Hon. Tariana Turia & Hon Pter Sharples. Fiji situation is too fluid at the moment and any high level delegations as such needs to be excuted with care & caution before ventruing out to Fiji. A case in point for the Maori elders, Bainimarama was approached few days prior the Mundy Thursday ruling in early April 2009 where the High Chief from Bainimarama’s village & his delegation of Fijian elders or Kaumatua went along with ‘Tabua’ a valued Peace offering to ask this dictator to please end the Fiji saga & go back to the barracks & give Fiji back to the people. The outcome was just as we had expected “Bainimarama threw the valued’ Tabua’ back in the face of his High Chief & the elders. The rest is History…..

  • Bulakia ora, Rod Rosentreter ,

    Whilst you live comfortably in your ‘Glass House’ people around you in Fiji are suffering. Have’nt you seen the famous Army Colonel’s statement at which VB, the military dictator, announced his intention of executinh this 2006 & 2009 coup. If you have’nt then you better read it @ Luvei Viti blog because it contains accurate details of what this man was thinking at the time. This man is a man of dis-honour says the blog & its only appropriate that it is repeated here. Vore Bainimarama is a dishonest man……talk to us this time next year if you’re still living in Fiji because at the very lest you have the best of both worlds i.e Living in Fiji & living in Australia at your convenience!!

  • All im saying is Maori have been through the times Fijians are going through now, so be it over a hundred years ago, we had chiefs and profits killed and hanged for not doing as we were told i.e: refusing to hand over land, wilfully taking our land virtually from under our feet,

    But if it was’nt for the radical movements,stances that our people took over all these years to get some sort of stability in showing the crown that we are watching every step they make we probably would have nothing,

    Im not saying that Dictatorship NOW is the way to go 100 years ago would have been preferable, but as we Tangata Whenua will be forgotten if we are quiet

    Should i have said Kia Kaha Fiji the world is watching ???

  • Buka & Kia ora Tai_Nga

    Ok. point noted however, what we must realise there are diffrent levels of the ‘goings on’ here. For sure, the Maori have suffered much during the early periods of Aotearoa’s history no one can doubt that. The healing & meeting of both the Crown & The Maori are still being witnessed today. This is a different ballgame to whats unfolding in Fiji. There is no Crown or white men holding a gun over the Fiji people but its a Mullato man himself called Frank (Voreqe) Bainimarama. He does not give two hoots about the Chiefs & the Indigenous Fijians of Fiji and yet his army is made up of 99% of Native Fijians who he uses as human shield to fight their own people. Check out the number of civilians that have died in their hands – they have been all natives none are others so what does that tells you.

    My pionts are: If the Maori delegations which I presume will include elders or Kaumatu(s) who will they target to to see first and foremost? Will they sought to meet with the Fiji Chiefs & its people or will they prefer to meet with the dictator & huis regime? Questions will be asked as whichever level they elect to meet first. If it is the Chiefs & the people -then it will receive the Blessings or Mana by many Native Fijians who are hurting right now. If they opt to see the dictator & his regime – it can be read otherwise and who knows the outcome? Your guess is as good as mine???

    To send a powerful Maori Delegations reaffirming the Pacific ties or ‘veiwekani’ it must be done with sensitivity and at this point in time the currect Fiji dictator only wants the best for himself as he is now showing clear evidence that things must be done his ways after all he enjoys the power & glory that comes with the high post he has snatched from the legally elected government. If theres anything to go by – the Maori elders need to think things through rather than just having a knee jerk reaction or are listening to some ill-advise given to them by some who claims to know Fiji & ‘Nai Taukei’ well but in essence do not as they would have been one of those that the native Fijians calls ‘gone susu madrai’
    Wishing the Maori Delegations the very best when they do decide to go.
    Tena kopto, Tena Koto, Tena Koto Katoa,
    Vinaka & Ni sa moce

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