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Aotearoa/New Zealand: 'The Mana revolution has begun'

By Joe Carolan

June 27, 2011 -- Socialist Aotearoa, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Hone Harawira’s victory in the Te Tai Tokerau by-election means that the Mana Party is now the newest party with parliamentary representation in Aotearoa [New Zealand]. This achievement is impressive, given the range of forces ranged against us -- the Maori Party, the Labour Party machine, supported by the National Party, and most of the mainstream media and political commentators.

Knocking on the doors out in Waitakere, the best reception I got from people was to our upfront class politics. The Maori Party had abandoned the Maori working class and poor just like the Labour Party had abandoned the whole of the working class -- the huge poverty and deprivation we came in contact with on the doorsteps had not just fallen from the sky a day after [New Zealand's conservative National Party Prime Minister] John Key’s electoral victory in 2008.

When we argued for fighting trade unions, for living benefits and a living wage, for the abolition of unjust taxes like goods and services tax in favour of taxing the rich and their banks, you could see peoples eyes light up.

When we talked about a planned, social economy -- where the crime of unemployment would no longer be tolerated, and everybody would have socially useful work on a living wage, you saw hopes rise. And several times, when people said a plague on all politicians and all their parties, and we agreed that yes, what was needed was something more fundamental, like a revolution, you saw people smile and laugh. This was not a run of the mill centrist electoral campaign. This was a hikoi [protest march] to the ballot box.

The potential of the Mana movement is immense. New Zealand is built on theft -- theft of the land from our Tangata Whenua [the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, literally means "people of the land"] and theft of our sweat and labour from a greedy, corporate boss class. Those of us workers who own nothing in the cities have nothing to lose by Maori land being restored to its original owners. If  theTuhoe people want their own state -- fine with us. Indeed, the working class in New Zealand will never be free unless we have liberation and justice for Maori people.

But it’s the theft of our sweat in the towns and the cities that makes Mana a movement for all of us -- Maori, Pasifika, Pakeha and other migrants to Aotearoa. There are nearly half a million workers trying to survive on less than NZ$15 an hour, and many of those workers have insecure hours from week to week -- even the concept of a 40-hour week is now a radical proposition in the KFC and McDonald's stores of our land.

There are also nearly half a million people either unemployed or in receipt of poverty level benefits, and it is them and their dependants that suffer the crime of child poverty in a land of plenty. Raising the next generation of workers is real work -- and a decent society would pay those who take care of children at home a full wage. But beneficiaries and the unemployed have suffered falling incomes, under both Labour Party and National Party governments.

This is our wider Mana tribe. The half a million workers on less than $15 an hour. The half a million people on benefits, raising up their children as best they can in crippling poverty. This tribe should not be polite or silent any longer. Its time for this tribe to awake from its slumber and use its anger to organise, one million strong.

The Mana movement must begin to organise against the poverty we suffer, the exploitation and bullying we fight in the warehouses and stores. The victories we win in the electoral field must build a movement that spreads into our communities and workplaces. Its for this reason that activists organised in Socialist Aotearoa congratulate Hone on his historic victory in te tai Tokerau, and promise to help spread the Mana revolution from its northern homeland into the working-class areas of Auckland and beyond.

 

 

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