Peter Sharples, co-leader of the reactionary Maori Party, is in a huff with Labour. And he's getting all high and mighty about it.
The reactionary Maori Party have come up with the draconian idea that there should be a separate Maori prison system. Labour have described this as 'separatist' and now Sharples says that the Maori Party might have difficulty with working with Labour in the future.
He also says that Labour's policies 'are on the wrong path', the implication being that he and the Maori Party are the source of all political wisdom.
Well, those who have watched Sharples bumble his way through Parliamentary question time would have strong doubts about that implied claim - he's been spending a lot of recent time evading answering questions.
I don't hold any brief for Labour, no surprises there, but Labour is correct to oppose a separate Maori prison system.
What Sharples just doesn't get is that crime is a class and not a race issue.
I'm not going to go into all the intricacies here but it's patently evident that most of the people who get locked up are working class. Since Maori are predominantly working class it's no surprise that a lot of them are behind bars.
Because Maori are predominantly working class they have suffered the ravages of the exactly the same neoliberal economic policies that Peter Sharples and his Maori Party colleagues support.
Most working class Maori resort to crime simply a as a means of economic survival - just like working class Pakeha.
But Sharples doesn't want to know about this because he speaks only for that new layer of Maori capitalists who have benefited from neoliberalism.
Professor Elizabeth Rata has identified what is essentially a new Maori capitalism - what Rata refers to as a 'neotribal capitalist regime of accumulation.'
This has seen the transformation of tribes into capitalist enterprises dominated by a small Maori elite of lawyers, businesspeople, leaders, bureaucrats.
These are the people that Peter Sharples and the Maori Party represent.
Professor Rata writes:
Under neotribal capitalism, this access to what paltry resources have been returned to Maori is effectively exclusively controlled by the new tribal capitalist elite. Even if ownership of resources is nominally owned by the whole tribe (the corporate tribe, and not an individual, is the legal owner), and even if iwi members have a shareholding in the business, the undemocratic nature of neotribal capitalist business ensures that working class iwi do not have any real say in the corporate iwi head office.
So what is Sharples offering working class Maori who have not seen any of the wealth? He's offering them their own prisons. What a disgrace. What an insult to all Maori.
Sina Ana Brown-Davis was so right when she wrote recently on Indymedia:
'I can’t think of anything more offensive than to be held under lock and key by your own, and maybe on your own whenua. Then being force feed your culture by Maori who wouldn’t even give you the time of day on the outside.'
Peter Sharples is more interested in making money for his Maori capitalist friends than truly representing the interests of ordinary Maori.