Confusing, cruel or just the nature of the beast?

Politics can be a cruel game, especially when it involves family and whanau who carry different beliefs about what is best for their own people.

Confusing because we woke up on Sunday morning with our clocks an hour forward and then, we had to turn them back four, eight and 20 years to exactly where we were with a ticking time bomb, when Winston, not the people or any political party of this country, would decide who runs it.

Cruel because there is always going to be maemae (hurt) when the stakes are high as they were on Saturday night - and one of your own is let down and let go for no other apparent reason than a lost loyalty.


Being hurt while playing a game that everyone in the game understands is one thing - if played on an even field and what happens on the field stays there.

Not so when the game and its results are in front of 18,000 of your own Waiariki electorate whanau as they were for co-leader of the Maori Party Te Ururoa Flavell.

The highs and lows of an election night where I was at Waitete Marae in Ngongotaha were up and down like a Skyline gondola.

They went from a song-singing, kai-eating, happy as 21st-like celebration, to a deep tangi-like sadness for an unexpected loss of a loved rangatira (leader).

The sadness came from the sudden realisation of where the night was heading, as the votes for their leader starting telling a final twist in a taniwha's tale; that no one in the wharekai at Waitete Marae ever considered.

It was a strange, almost surreal type of sadness, one manifested more from a feeling of a hugely respected local leader being let down by his own people.

A deep maemae (hurt) caused by the crossing of the floor by his own whanau of Waiariki, who turned their backs on him at the ballot box with their tuatoko, and the wave of tears seemed to be asking why?

A tautoko taken away and handed across to a new leader, and for me the sadness came from deep within the realms of what felt like a betrayal of loyalty to the leader let go, as much as an endorsement for the new one to take his place.

Whatever it was and wherever it came from it was much more than losing to another political party or their new chosen leader who now represents Waiariki.

The people had spoken and when Tu Ururoa arrived at the Marae and stood, the maemae was deeper than a Whakarewarewa geyser.

The end of an era was history in the making and we could all feel it as the loyal leader of the Maori Party stood in stunned silence - and the sadness in his eyes carried out amongst his faithful followers until tears flowed for and with their rangatira.

Was it a sadness easily invoiced back to Labour who had swamped the Maori Party in all seven seats? Not in my mind.

For me it was a sadness born of apathy of our own people who didn't understand the game of politics. A game where having a seat at the table of decision-making was paramount - no matter what political party you played with.

The sadness was more about knowing what so many had worked so hard for could be gone if the seven Maori seats don't come through for labour.

Labour could still have what they have had for the last four elections, and that is standing outside the tent throwing cold hangi stones for the next three years.

Only this time there will be no Maori Party seat inside the tent keeping it warm.

Time will tell if Tuku took down the Maori Party and in three years we will know if Tamati Coffey has survived the 8160 sets of Maori Party eyes who didn't vote for him and will be watching him like a hawk with the 100 or so at Waiariki Marae he now speaks for.

Now we crouch and hold, and wait for Winston.

Will his promises pre-election be part of the buy, sell and exchange of the gains made by the Maori Party being at the table of decision-making for nine years?

Whanau ora, independent Maori seats, language revitalisation to name a few, are all, according to Winston's pre-election promises, gone like last night's boil up.

Is there a final twist in the Taniwha's tale? Nothing will surprise me anymore in politics after this election.

Who knows - the floor-crossing could carry on with Greens putting New Zealand first last, and carrying the title of kingmaker to National.

Perhaps Waiariki Maori will not realise what they had until they look, listen and learn from what they now have.

The proof will be on the paepae as much as it will be in Parliament - if tikanga and kawa are the corner stones of kaupapa Maori.

Tihei Mauriora Te Ururoa. Your whanau and family deserve you more, bro.