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HAIMONA GRAY: The 'Car-koi' And Partisan Activation

How Our Media Are Contributing To The Soft Bigotry Of Low Expectations


After Monday, the last thing I wanted to do was write about Te Pati Maori or John Tamihere. 


I am cognisant of beating a dead horse. I like horses, and beating a dead one seems very cruel and unnecessary - what would be the utility in that? Mill would be furious. 


So, during one of my very infrequent attempts at exercise, I put on the most recent edition of The Front Page, a NZ Herald current affairs podcast I'm a regular listener of… which sounds like the start of a really grating Letter To The Editor, but I promise I'm going somewhere less cringe than that. 


Their guest was Dr Carwyn Jones, a Maori legal scholar and co-editor of the Maori Law Review, who talked at length about last week's large scale protests against the Coalition Government. 


Both he and host Chelsea Daniels noted that thousands of people came out in support of this sentiment. It had tapped into something quite a few people are feeling and the numbers given appear genuine, not one of those ‘Trump claims a million people were there, footage shows about twenty max’ situations. 


What they failed to acknowledge in twenty five minutes of discussion however was who might be behind the protest, and what their motivations might be beyond generally being against the Coalition Government. 


That struck me as odd. When protesters descend on Parliament en masse, normally the media give some background as to who is behind it.  


Even the anti-mandate protests, which seemed to have grown online and not inside any specific political party, had official spokespeople. 


Why not this one?

 

It didn't take long, six minutes maybe, for me to find out that this protest was being organised by people directly connected to a political party - Te Pati Maori. 


My dream of escaping John Tamihere was dashed, as was my enjoyment of the podcast. 


Could a NZ Herald reporter not do the same basic research I accomplished from a park in West Auckland while trying not to do research? That seems unlikely. 


My worry is that this is just one example of something we're seeing a lot lately, media outlets - often in pieces by pakeha journalists - maybe hoping to be good allies to Maori but ending up running Te Pati Maori talking points uncritically instead. 


Political coverage needs to be even handed, but Te Pati Maori are seemingly getting far more free passes than any other party. 


Fortunately, Liam Rātana at The Spinoff, in a deeper dive into Maori activism generally, did also answer the question of who might be behind the protest. More comprehensively than my couple of phone calls while looking at dogs too. 


From The Spinoff: “The Toitū Te Tiriti movement was initially reported as being behind today’s protests. The group has an online store selling merchandise designed by artist Hohepa (The HORI) Thomas and a social media campaign being led by Eru Kapa-Kingi, son of te Pāti Māori MP Mariameno Kapa-Kingi and ninth on the party’s list at the last election. Many other Māori prominent on social media have shared content and called for people to join in.


However, there are no official faces, names or contact details affiliated with Toitū Te Tiriti or listed on its website. The Spinoff first received a media release about the kaupapa earlier in the week, sent by a public relations professional who said to contact managing director of Te Kōhao Health, Lady Tureiti Moxon, who paid for the release to be written and sent out.” 


I first met Lady Moxon while working for John Tamihere and the Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency. She runs one of the nation's largest Maori health providers, one which receives significant funding from the Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency. 


She is also very close with John Tamihere personally. This, in itself, is not something that is unusual amongst successful people. 


It is more unusual when the successful person is John Tamihere - a man whose abrasive nature, and liberal use of vulgarities, results in friendships of an almost exclusively transactional nature. 


This is also the same Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency which was accused in last weekend's Sunday Star Times of providing census data directly to Te Pati Maori. 


It would not be unfair, given what I have witnessed and what has been reported, to say that Lady Moxon is a close business and personal associate of John Tamihere. 


I do not know whether she is a member of Te Pati Maori but, combined with the involvement of the son of a Te Pati Maori MP, this all starts to look a lot less organic than it was framed as. 


The Spinoff doesn't name the public relations professional who sent the email to news outlets advertising the protest and its locations, but I asked other journalists who also received the email where it came from and they all confirmed it to be a PR professional who regularly works for John Tamihere and his many entities, including the Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency. 


I first met this person while working for John Tamihere and the Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency. In spite of us working in the same industry, a small industry, and in the same town, I have yet to come across them working for any other clients. 

I don't doubt they have other clients, but this all paints a picture and not an abstract one. 


People may argue Maoridom is small, but it isn't so small that all of this can be brushed aside as a coincidence. It is, at least, worth a passing mention that these people all connect together, and to Te Pati Maori. 


It's disappointing that none of this closeness was mentioned, especially by a legal scholar with an understanding of the importance of transparency in politics and the media, but it's highly possible Dr Jones is not aware of any of this context. 


To his credit, I did not meet Dr Jones while working for John Tamihere and the Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency, and he doesn't seem to be a partisan guy. Left leaning, sure, but not a party political guy. 


My concern is that someone very bright and politically engaged didn't dig deeper into any of this, and a podcast on this subject by the nation's newspaper of record didn't either. 


I know, in the case of other prominent Maori, not Dr Jones himself, there is a principle that holds them back from asking hard questions that may embarrass fellow Maori. 


It is not something we're meant to discuss in the presence of non-Maori, but something we need to address to rebuff negative perceptions. 


A pretty embarrassing example of this mindset is the treatment highly decorated Maori journalist Mihi Forbes received for exposing financial improprieties at the Kohanga Reo National Trust Board. 


As reported in the NZ Herald, quote: "[the] piece focused on misspending at the Te Kohanga Reo National Trust Board and its wholly-owned subsidiary Te Pataka Ohanga Limited, a follow up to an earlier investigation by the show.


The previous investigation won the Best Investigative Reporting award at the 2014 World Indigenous Journalism Awards with judges saying it was "an excellent example of the rigour with which we need to conduct ourselves as journalists."


It led to several investigations into the trust and its subsidiary, including one by the Serious Fraud Office.


Executive interference in the Kohanga Reo story, and another on Whanau Ora, was believed to be a factor in Mihingarangi Forbes' resignation from Native Affairs.”


This was gold standard journalism, exposing wrongdoing by powerful people - including Tainui's King Tuheitia. 


That the victims in this case were Maori organisations, ones supporting kids education, only strengthened the point that this reporting would help Maori by making these entities more transparent and financially sound. 


Instead of being celebrated Forbes was vilified by some high profile Maori, including other journalists, who saw her as a ‘turncoat’. 


Veteran broadcaster, and current Waitangi Tribunal member, Derek Fox accused her of being the root of the "pakehafication of Māori journalism". 


Mihi won a fan in me, but I lack the cache and influence of a King or someone on the Waitangi Tribunal. 


This is an issue, one we need to deal with within Maoridom, but never will if we keep a wall up around our own failings. 


I've come across this issue myself. 


Several years ago I was asked to write a profile for Metro about a fascinatingly contradictory and shady political operative. 


While writing it I was talking to my mum about the person I was profiling and she was strongly against the idea. She believed it wasn't right to speak poorly of a fellow Maori, even one who supported things she didn't and worked for a whanau who had treated her repugnantly. 


A few years later, Jevan Goulter admitted in court to attempting to bribe and intimidate victims of convicted sex offender James Wallace. 


This was the person I was meant to not speak ill of, someone who further victimised victims of a disgusting man for a quick payday. 


It also turns out that Jevan Goulter was not, and is not, Maori. This code of silence only hurts us as a people, and might let some wrongdoers get away with hurting the more vulnerable. 


If we force a united front, while internally being at each other's throats, nothing gets better. 


I wrote the profile anyway because I'd rather be open with my contempt. At least that's honest. 


In the podcast, Dr Carwyn Jones said a national referendum was not the right way to address the principles of the Treaty. I agree, we have a referendum every three years and that's enough. 


He then talked about Maori as if we are united in our anger at the government, and talked about political ‘activation’ as this organic development. I disagree. 


There is nothing organic about this. If we were discussing vegetables and not activism they could be investigated for false advertising by repeatedly making this claim. 


It's not uncommon to see politicians at protests but it is uncommon for a protest to be almost entirely organised by a parliamentary political party and for this to not be acknowledged in corresponding media coverage. 


Continued uncritical coverage of Te Pati Maori has come at the cost for the mainstream media: reduced public credibility. 


I've written for, or been interviewed by, every major media outlet in the country over the past ten years. I'll probably continue to do so, though I find what we have here more meaningful. 


During this time I never reached as many people as I have with this SubStack. My last post had ten thousand views in less than seventy two hours. This is in spite of the fact that I've only been posting here since March and haven't advertised other than a few posts on X. 


This new readership came with a pretty massive outpouring of responses, around a hundred of them directly criticising the mainstream media for not covering these issues. 


I have gently pushed back on this by pointing out that, for the Sunday Star Times/Stuff, Andrea Vance has reignited this debate with her story, and that the NZ Herald’s own Matt Nippert has been covering issues with the Waipareira Trust for over a decade. 


I pushed back, but I understand the sentiment completely. I'm coming around to it more and more by the day. 


There are good journalists out there, I named three in this post, and I've enjoyed The Front Page when they've covered other issues like their pod on head injuries in sports.


Sadly their latest episode did not help this debate by running one side of a story, and missing hugely important context. 


The issue here is the lack of honesty from the people behind the protests and the lack of questioning from people we are trusting to ask these questions. 


While I will still believe that the mainstream media has an important role in our society and democracy, the responses I'm seeing show that they are failing to convince people they are still up to the task. 


This will only get worse if journalists continue to not ask the hard questions of one political party, and its activists, that they would of any other party. One that didn't claim to speak for Maori.  


There is a phrase for this kind of gloves-on treatment: the soft bigotry of low expectations. 


This all fuels division, the lack of transparency from Te Pati Maori and the lack of critical eye by media stemming from a misguided desire for allyship. 


We the public, whether Maori or not, deserve better. 


You can subscribe to Haimona Gray's Substack here

4,019 views147 comments

147 Comments


So. This is what it's come to.

Make no mistake about it.

The more this shit is allowed to perpetrate and continue being shoved down people's throats as a normal diet, the longer the media aquiesence to these pricks continues to poison this country wirh separatism, and promote apartheid like behavior never seen before.

Jesus fucking wept.

I'm one man standing up so stand with me and fucking well fight. We did so in 1939 against tyranny and we can emulate those feelings again now.

No more will I brook these openly racist rhetoric Ridden bludging wankers telling me I've got all bass akward, no, they have. The Germans went on a French excursion in 1939 to France and a…


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I recently read that the Greens have infiltrated local body politics.

Nothing truer than in New Plymouth, where the council reads the room then go off in their own ideological direction. Totally agree, time to get off our bums and vote locally as well

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One repeated claim by TPM is that they represent Maori. They simply don’t. They don’t represent me, a Maori, among many others. They obviously represent some Maori, but can demonstrate no mandate for making the ludicrous general claim. It frustrates the h*** out of me every time I hear it.

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Watch this space !!!!!

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This might seem a bit peripheral to your excellent story above, but you seem like an important figure to pass this on to. John Tamihere gave an explosive interview to Ian Wishart in April 2005, in which he seems to be a completely different person to what he is today.


http://www.investigatemagazine.com/tamihere.htm


Maybe save that text because it may not last forever on the web. It is already next to impossible to find with a search.


For example, Tamihere said then:


“…I’d be a very wealthy man by now if I’d stayed down the road at the Waipareira Trust, but for all the wrong reasons…”

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Rather like Jekyll and Hyde. I recall a time when I respected Tamihere. But that was long ago

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This is amazing in its admissions and insight considering who wrote it. Well done I say!

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We all know what happened to journalists who spoke out about the "climate crisis" , the "pandemic", mis-gendering etc.


"It boggles the mind that this happened, and we are still paying an egregious price in terms of inflation, learning loss, excess death, collapse of public health, expansion of government, pervasive censorship, and much more.

It felt like martial law at the time, and it is not clear that this ever went away. We absolutely must know the truth. More than that, we need to repudiate every bit of the COVID-19 response, including the mandates to get a vaccine that was, in fact, never proven to be safe or effective.

So yes, it matters that this virus likely leaked from a…


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