Thursday, 22 September 2011

Predictable and surprising: an overview of Mana policy

21 September 2011

The Mana Party's consolidated policy document was recently released (see below). Its contents are both predictable and surprising. Here's a concise overview:

The document is predictably strong on "bread and butter" issues for Maori and workers, but invisible on their political "agency" in changing the system. 
  • There are eight references to Maori, 10 to worker/s, and three to union/s. All these references are solely economic in character. So Maori, workers and unions are not given any political role in a systemic transition away from capitalism, or even away from the current neoliberal stage of capitalism.
  • Accordingly, there is not a single reference to "capitalism", "capitalist", "neoliberal" or even "class". And just one passing reference to "market". Despite the presence of many self-described socialists within Mana, no mention is made of the words "socialism" or "socialist". 
  • Nevertheless, there are important policy assaults on financialisation, which is the central pillar of neoliberalism. So the document advocates the abolition of GST, the introduction of a financial speculation tax, reduced income tax for the poor and steeper income tax for the wealthy, a capital gains tax and other tax policies which would confront financialisation without mentioning the words "neoliberalism" or capitalism".
  • Overall, the document is reasonable on immediate "bread and butter" issues, but sidesteps the questions of political economy and political "agency". The inference is that voters should leave politics in the hands of Mana politicians, since nobody else is given a system change role. My mark: B+. 

It is surprisingly weak on Te Tiriti o Waitangi and tino rangatiratanga. 
  • The treaty/tino rangatiratanga are linked four times to constitutional matters. But these references are very brief and abstract, leaving no meat on these constitutional bones.
  • Plus there are two references to the treaty in regards to economic matters.
  • Overall, a disappointing result from a party whose main membership consists of flaxroots Maori steeped in Te Tiriti and tino rangatiratanga. My mark: C.

And it is predictably woeful on ecological matters. 
  • There is not a single reference to "ecology" in the policy document. 
  • There is just one passing reference to "ecological" in a sentence where it's buried under social, economic and spiritual issues.
  • The word "environment" appears three times, but only in reference to our social/legal environment, not the world of nature. 
  • The word "environmental" appears twice, but only in passing and buried under social, cultural and economic issues.
  • The word "sustainable" is used three times each in reference to transport and housing, which of course intersect with the natural environment, but the linkage is weak in the document. Mostly there's an economic aura given to "sustainable", which also appears five times in direct reference to the economy. 
  • Climate change is probably the gravest emergency facing humanity today, threatening catastrophes on a primeval scale. Incredibly, Mana's manifesto makes merely two references to climate change/global warming. And one reference is merely economic, referencing the monetary cost of climate change policies. The other reference is part of a general statement on a post-oil future.
  • Overall, a disjointed, abstract and unconvincing approach to ecology. There's no sense that systemic alternatives to climate change and other capitalist erosions of the natural basis for life on Earth should be woven into every fibre of Mana's policy. My mark: C-.

Of course, we cannot define any party by way of its policy manifesto alone. Usually the social character and track record of party members, and especially party leaders, is at least as important. 

But my overall impression of Mana's consolidated policy document is of punches pulled and opportunities missed in the arenas of political economy, political agency and constitutional remodeling. And, regarding the life-sustaining world of nature, I see a party manifesto that is lamentably weak, despite several disconnected references to a "post-carbon world".

Therefore, my overall mark for Mana's predictable and surprising manifesto would be somewhere between a B- and a C+. 

I hope that Mana does well in this year's parliamentary election, though my hopes are based more on good people in the party than on this rather disappointing manifesto. 

I also hope that the Green Party and candidates from Labour's left wing do well at the polls, and that they get together with Mana to start forging a Left Bloc that at the very least begins to roll back neoliberalism and tackle climate change.

September 2011
Mana – Founding Principles
The Mana Movement strives for tino rangatiratanga and caring for others so whānau and communities can uplift themselves in positive and meaningful ways.

The path to self-determination, physical, social and spiritual wellbeing will require long-term fundamental change. Until that is achieved, the state and the Mana Movement have a responsibility to ensure whānau, adults and children, can live with dignity and to act in accordance with te Tiriti o Waitangi.

To achieve this goal, Mana embraces the following principles:

* Tino rangatiratanga, as expressed through He Whakaputanga me te Tiriti o Waitangi, is the constitutional basis of the modern Aotearoa NZ state.

* Mana is a transformative movement for social change where advocates within Parliament work together with transformers within Aotearoa NZ and internationally.

* Kaupapa Māori philosophies and ethics of justice guarantee social justice, economic fairness and physical, spiritual and ecological wellbeing to the benefit of all, embracing diversity and mutual respect.

* The needs of the poor, the sick, the marginalised, the exploited and the vulnerable who are unable support themselves are the priority that dictate the redistribution of wealth, elimination of poverty, and guarantee basic human needs of shelter, health, culture, identity and decent livelihoods.

Mana is here for the people, not for the selfish or the foreign elites.



The wellbeing of individuals and whānau depends on a decent and secure livelhood so people can live in dignity. Some workers are not well supported at work and do not receive an adequate living wage for their work. Unemployment is on the rise again, and Māori unemployment continues to be nearly three times that of non-Māori. Youth are particularly affected by unemployment. Maori resources are not used to benefit Maori small businesses or workers; the trickle-down approach of Treaty settlements has not worked. The crises of climate change, peak oil, and food security mean that we have to prepare now for the post-carbon (post-oil) world by recovering traditional approaches to sustainable livelihoods and discovering new strategies. To maintain current jobs and create new, better quality jobs, especially for young people, means investing in and developing new, sustainable economic development and employment initiatives. Mana Party policy priorities are to:

* Pursue measures to provide full employment. (With full employment the dole would not be needed)
* Immediately increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour (1 April 2012) and raise it to two-thirds of the average wage (1 April 2013). We oppose the call to reintroduce a lower minimum wage for youth.
* Ensure no-one leaves school without moving to employment or training.
* Develop an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable economic development programme with national and regional development strategies.
* Support changes to employment relations laws that give workers greater bargaining power to negotiate wages and conditions with their employers, and oppose changes that reduce the bargaining power of workers and unions.
* Introduce a requirement for all State-Owned Enterprises and Māori corporate entities to prioritise the employment of New Zealand residents or face significant financial penalties.
* Incentivise the processing of New Zealand resources in New Zealand so the value-added component benefits the country.
* Introduce a scheme to create new community service jobs for those currently unemployed. This would involve work in schools, hospitals, retirement villages, kuia/koroua flats, and community organisations. Workers would be paid the minimum wage instead of a benefit, and workplace adult literacy and numeracy learning would be provided where required.
* Increase government investment in papakainga and other community housing construction projects in areas where there are shortages of low cost rental housing, significantly boosting employment in the construction industry. (Investment in environmentally sustainable housing is of particular interest as it is more labour-intensive, having the potential to create greater levels of employment)
* Support the creation of quality apprenticeship schemes that can train young people in trades training, without the burden of high tertiary education fees.

Housing - Kainga

A decent home is a necessary foundation for families to flourish. Too many individuals and whanau live in inadequate, substandard, overcrowded or unsafe accommodation. Mana believes that everyone has a right to secure, healthy housing, whether they live in cities or rural districts.

Maori suffer disproportionately from inadequate housing, and continue to experience discrimination both in accessing decent accommodation and in the ability to borrow capital to build on Maori land. It is time that Aotearoa abided by treaties like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with the state guaranteeing provision of adequate shelter for all.

Homelessness is a much bigger issue in Aotearoa today than many people realise. Much more needs to be done to ensure that housing is available where and when people need it, through secure, affordable rentals and through improved access to loans for those who aspire to home ownership.

All new housing should conform to high standards of energy efficiency and sustainable construction and design standards.

Mana policy priorities are to:
* Acknowledge the reality of homelessness in Aotearoa by making it a duty of Government to ensure every individual and family is housed, in secure, safe and affordable accommodation.

* Develop a national housing strategy based on quality research which identifies true levels of homelessness and substandard living arrangements.

* Build 10,000 more state houses within the next two years. This will start to deal with the current crisis in housing availability for low income people, and will also create jobs and training opportunities.

* Maintain income related rents at no more than 25% of income for state, local government and community and iwi social housing.

* Introduce a ‘warrant of fitness’ for all rental housing, to ensure no accommodation is let without basic standards being met, including sanitation, insulation, warmth, fire safety and the removal of any toxic materials.

* Provide adequate ongoing funding for emergency housing, women’s refuges and supported housing for those with particular health and social needs – in every district. Increase funding and other support for tenants’ protection groups.

* Introduce a major papakainga housing programme, which works to overcome in sensitive, practical ways the many current barriers to building housing on Maori communally owned land.

* Extend the range of options for assistance with home purchase for low and middle income earners.

* Increase Government support for third sector housing providers – whanau, hapu and iwi, community and church based organisations who work to provide quality social housing (rental and owned) in local areas. Support the development of indigenous housing models, as well as sweat equity, shared equity, eco housing, cooperative housing and other innovative forms of home ownership.

* Maintain and increase rural housing improvement programmes which enable whanau to bring their homes up to decent health and safety standards.

* Government to assist with the establishment of a community owned banking network, either as a new entity or as a non-profit stand alone part of Kiwibank, with functions including:
+ Assisting with housing loans for papakainga and other tangata whenua and community based social housing initiatives.
+ Providing capital for the development of other community enterprises which support job creation, and the meeting of social, cultural and environmental needs.
+ Enabling genuine community ownership through democratically elected, accountable shareholder directors.

* Increase funding and support for environmentally sustainable and low cost, low tech building trades training programmes.

* Establish the right of people to remain in or return to their home rohe without penalty from the state; increase Government support for rural districts, including through greater assistance with public transport, sewerage, water, wastewater, waste, roading and other infrastructure.

Economic Justice

The rising cost of living means that more people are struggling to make ends meet and provide a decent standard of living for their whānau. The rising cost of kai, petrol, electricity, and rents have contributed to this, as well as the recent increase to GST. Small increases in the minimum wage and the small tax cuts to low income earners have not been enough to meet these rising costs. Official reports show that the gap between high and low income earners in Aotearoa continues to grow, and it is estimated that 170,000 children live in poverty. Many whānau have borrowed to make up the falling real value of wages over the last 25 years, meaning that low income whānau have become easy bait for loan sharks. Recent changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) also mean that whānau will pay much more than their fair share towards the cost of reducing global warming/climate change from 2012. More cuts to essential public services such as health and education will be made to cover the costs of bailouts and other corporate welfare, making low income whānau even less well off. Mana Party policy priorities are to:

* Abolish GST
* Significantly increase the tax take by introducing a tax on financial speculation, called the “Hone Heke tax” (chopping down GST and income tax), which will be designed using examples of similar taxes introduced overseas.
* Immediately increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour (by 1 April 2012) and raise it to two-thirds of the average wage (by 1 April 2013). Mana opposes the call to reintroduce a lower minimum wage for youth aged 16-17 years.
* Support changes to employment relations laws that give workers greater bargaining power to negotiate wages and conditions with their employers, and oppose changes that reduce the bargaining power of workers and unions.
* Increase benefit incomes to a living income, including extending the in-work tax credit to the children of beneficiary parents.
* Abandon the market-based provision of essential services such as electricity and water in favour of non-profit and sustainable provision of those services.
* Regulate loan sharks and restrict banks’ profit margins on loans, credit cards, and mortgages.
* Reduce the tax paid by low income earners by not taxing the first $15,000 earned and introduce a more progressive tax scale where the wealthy accept the responsibility to pay the largest share of the tax income.
* Introduce a capital gains tax on all but the family home and Maori land.
* Collating all sources of income, including from shares, bonds and investments, to be taxed at an individual’s personal tax rate.
* Reintroduce inheritance tax to be paid on a progressive scale for inheritances valued at over $500,000.
* Regulate family trusts and other tax avoidance devices.
* Close corporate tax loopholes to make sure that all businesses, especially transnational companies, pay their full share of tax.

Social Wellbeing

In Aotearoa today, one in five children are growing up in poverty. Wages are low, much work is precarious, and benefits are paid at levels too low to enable people to survive with dignity. Unemployment remains high, and impacts disproportionately on Maori and young people.

Mana believes that every adult has a right to a decent job, or to training and education that will enable them to get a job. Investment in full employment and other sustainable livelihoods, and creating an enabling environment for iwi and community economic development are critical to breaking cycles of unemployment and poverty.

Anyone who is unable to support themselves because they are out of work, sick, injured, disabled, elderly, or a sole parent deserves support from a compassionate welfare system. The current system is far too complicated. It wastes huge amounts of taxpayers’ money on administration, and does not provide even minimal adequate support for most people on benefits. All too often people coming to Work and Income are treated with disregard and contempt.

At the same time social harms like violence, abuse and neglect, problem drinking and gambling and other deeply rooted social and health issues impact significantly on many individuals, families and their wider whanau.

Mana believes that all children deserve the best possible chance in life, and that adults and children alike have the right to live free from violence, neglect and abuse. The Government has a role in helping to deal with these problems, as do whanau, hapu and iwi, and church, community, union and other voluntary organisations.

Everyone deserves access to quality, culturally appropriate social services whether delivered by the state or by non government organisations. The non government sector – community groups and roopu Maori – has the capacity to achieve far more than is currently possible, should the State choose to provide an enabling rather than paternalistic environment in which these organisations can flourish.

Social policy and social development should be set within the framework of the provisions of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.


* Make full employment a top priority of government.

* Provide a one-off hardship grant of $1,000 for every person aged 18 and over who is on an income of $30,000 or less, whether they are on a benefit or in paid work. To be paid by Christmas 2011, to enable people to address immediate needs.

* Work towards implementing a Universal Tax Credit/Universal Basic Income where everyone in Aotearoa aged 18 and over would receive a minimum, liveable, tax free income after which progressive tax would kick in. This would eliminate the huge costs involved in administering the current shame and blame Work & Income system, end poverty traps, and assist in creating a far more equal society.

* Redirect some accommodation supplement funds to enable many more beneficiaries and other low income earners to rent from state, iwi and community owned housing providers on an income related basis, or participate in rent-to-buy initiatives, rather than continuing to provide subsidies to private landlords.

* Lift benefits to at least pre 1991 equivalent levels – National slashed benefits in 1991, and these cuts have never been restored. Index benefits to a fixed, adequate percentage of the average wage, as happens currently with superannuation.

* Extend the In Work tax credit to the children of beneficiary parents. This would immediately lift incomes for beneficiary families.

* Reinstate the Training Incentive Allowance for people on the DPB (Domestic Purposes Benefit) so they can access all levels of tertiary education.

* Maintain national superannuation as a universal payment for everyone aged 65 and over.

* Throw out the current social security law which is complex and out of date, and write new law based on making the welfare system simple and fair, based on the principles of manaakitanga.

* Radically change the culture of Work & Income so that people coming in for assistance are treated with respect, granted their full entitlements, and so that staff are trained and supported to work sensitively with people from a diverse range of backgrounds. First steps will include:
o Removing review of decisions from the Benefit Review Committees to a far more independent body.
o Creating an independent social security ombudsman to deal with complaints against Work & Income staff who humiliate or mistreat people.
o Implement a social marketing campaign to begin to undo the negative stereotyping of beneficiaries.

* Provide stable, ongoing funding for community based beneficiary and ACC advocacy groups throughout the country.


* Support a framework of universal health & wellbeing screening for all babies and children. One possible model is Te Ara Tukutuku Nga Whanaungtanga o Nga Tamariki, as presented by former Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro in 2008.
* End child poverty (see welfare, employment & cost of living policies).
* Recognise that the work of raising children is as important as paid work; extend paid parental leave for up to one year; and support quality early childhood and out of school education (see education policy).
* Increase funding and other support for children with disabilities and their families and whanau.
* Ensure that the needs and rights of tamariki and rangatahi are reflected in all policy that may affect them, and where possible, involve children and young people in planning and decision making.
* Ensure quality mental health services for children and young people are adequately funded and available in all parts of the country.

Family Violence

* Promote in every way practicable a culture of non violence in the home, school and communities.
* Resource and support parenting education in schools, and increase funding for quality parent and family support programmes in the community.
* Provide stable, sufficient funding for women’s refuge, rape crisis, men’s stopping violence groups and other organisations working to support those affected by family violence.
* Provide free counselling and well subsidised legal support for those affected by family and sexual violence.

CYFS (Child, Youth and Family)

* Improve the quality and accountability of CYFS services throughout the country, including in rural and provincial rohe. Ensure adequate training and support for staff. Develop an organisational culture which respects and understands the children, families, whanau and communities served by CYFS.
* Set up an independent review and appeals system for those who have complaints about CYFS.
* Adoption – Discard the Adoption Act 1955. Replace and update it with new legislation which takes into account many factors, including whangai adoption, and an understanding that overall, the welfare and rights of children should be paramount.


Pokie machines are an extremely harmful and deliberately addictive form of gambling. Therefore Mana seeks to:
* Abolish pokie machines from local communities and allow a community veto on pokies in casinos.
* Remove the distribution of pokie profits from the gaming charities, and allocate funding through established, publicly accountable mechanisms such as COGS or Internal Affairs Lotteries committees.
* Prohibit smoking in all gambling venues.
* End gambling advertising in all media.
* Ensure that organisations which deal with the harms created by problem gambling are adequately resourced out of its proceeds.


The misuse and abuse of alcohol takes a high health, social and economic toll on individuals, families and communities. Mana therefore seeks to:
* Give communities a veto over whether and where liquor outlets are established.
* End alcohol advertising on radio and TV and replace sponsorship of cultural and spots events by alcohol companies with government funding.
* Strengthen liquor legislation to reduce teenage drinking.
* Increase alcohol taxes, and use the income generated to help fund adequate, quality alcohol and drug addiction services across the country.

Tangata Whenua, Community & Voluntary Sector

* Ensure Government departments understand and recognise the key role this sector plays in enhancing social, cultural, environmental, and economic wellbeing.
* Review the Charities Act 2005. Ensure that organisations which play an advocacy role are not denied charitable status. If a group carries out political advocacy in accordance with its kaupapa, this should not be used as a reason for refusing it Government or charitable funding.
* Improve access to grants and loan funding and facilitate an enabling legal environment for the development of community enterprises; consumer, worker and housing cooperatives; ethical, community-run finance and banking initiatives; and alternative barter and currency schemes. Support the establishment of a community owned banking network (see Housing policy for more detail).
* Work to ensure Government understands and respects the worth of voluntary work in the community, on the marae, and in the home, including the right of tangata whenua to determine what ‘voluntary’ and ‘community sector’ means to them.


There is an urgent need to develop transport systems for people and goods that will be affordable and sustainable into the future. Petrol and diesel prices will continue to rise over the next decades and supply will diminish, further driving prices skywards. We need to prepare for the post-carbon world that is coming which means drastically reducing our dependence on oil, and, as a consequence, on cars and trucks. This means investing in building and running public transport systems that are affordable and user friendly and which help keep communities and whānau connected. Reducing the use of cars and trucks will positively contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution, and improving climate quality (air and water). Investing in building, running, and maintaining public transport systems will generate a significant number of new jobs and employment opportunities. Mana Party policy priorities are to:

* Invest in the building and running of environmentally sustainable public transport systems in all major population centres, including buses, rail, ferries, walkways, and cycle lanes.
* Ensure greater integration of bus, rail, and ferry services, and walkways and cycle lanes, particularly in major cities (and especially in Auckland), to reduce fares and increase the frequency and reliability of public transport.
* Ensure that people of all ages and abilities – whether they live in cities, towns, or rural areas – have access to affordable and reliable public transport so that they are able to avoid or reduce car ownership and significantly reduce their transport costs (both in dollar terms and in emission production).
* Require public transport services to be run according to a sustainability model as opposed to a business profit model, so that they remain affordable to all.
* Improve public consultation processes, including with iwi, in transport and roading planning and decision making.
* Secure state ownership of the nation’s transport infrastructure - railways, airline, and ports.
* Provide leadership for port reform to ensure an efficient and competitive port network, and where investment is targeted at bluewater ports that are fully integrated with rail networks and inland ports.
* Improve the safety for those working and using transport systems through strategic safety campaigns and utilising new technology.
* Ensure that the rights of migrant transport workers, including those in the maritime industry, are upheld so that they receive wages and conditions of work equal to New Zealand workers.
* Support the use and production of sustainable biofuels, including investing in a national biocrop/biodiesel initiative on lands not suitable for food crops or farming, including Māori-owned land.


The human rights to dignity, health, high quality education, fulfilling work, an adequate standard of living, appropriate housing, freedom from discrimination, transmission of language and culture, and full and effective participation in society apply to all disabled peoples. The state is legally obligated to take active steps to fulfil these rights and to make sure others do not interfere with them. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes that disability is created when people with impairments encounter barriers in society that hinder them from living the lives they choose. These include the way buildings are designed, the way information is provided, the places where services are delivered and the way they are provided, and societal attitudes and behaviours. These barriers also affect the whānau of people with impairments, those who love and care for them. People with disabilities are often disadvantaged in employment, education, standard of living, access to public transport, and access to health services. In New Zealand one in five are disabled. Māori have a higher rate of disability than non-Māori and face extra barriers, including racial discrimination.

Mana Party policies related to welfare, housing, education, and economic justice all aim to increase the living standards and support the right to participation of disabled people. In addition, Mana Party policy priorities are to:

* Increase the visibility, voice and participation of people with disabilities in central, regional and local government across all sectors, including governance, planning, policy, research, and service provision - and increase the resources available to enable this to happen.
* Increase the availability of services and facilities for long term and short term care/residential living that are age-appropriate and culturally appropriate for diverse groups of Māori, Pacific, and other peoples.
* Increase the options for people with disabilities to use affordable and accessible community facilities to maintain fitness and wellbeing (e.g. swimming pools for disabled people that provide privacy, ramps, lifts available for use outside working hours, etc.)
* Increase education for health professionals working in public and private services on issues related to providing excellent and culturally competent health care for people with disabilities – and include in audited competencies
* Tackle disparities in who receives services and benefits related to disability by proactively working to ensure people receive their full entitlements, and by prioritizing those groups less likely to receive full benefits. We will audit for under-receipt of benefits and monitor for equity.
* Support inclusive building design requirements for safe and accessible accommodation, workplaces, and services.
* Increase community-based rehabilitation services needed to support people to keep developing independence after experiencing disabling events such as strokes and accidental injury. (Rehabilitation services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy are accessible while people remain in hospital, but are scant after leaving hospital).
* Build the research capacity of people with disabilities, across all areas (e.g. health, design, education, economics) to increase control and influence over policy and planning, and to monitor progress.
* Develop ways to monitor the quality and performance of health and social services for people with disabilities and their whānau/caregivers.


Don Franks said...

There is no mention of imperialism or support for liberation movements in the Mana document.

There's no complaint about that in the critical report card.

The closest Mana comes is:

" Mana is a transformative movement for social change where advocates within Parliament work together with transformers within Aotearoa NZ and internationally"

Rather diluted by the nationalistic flavoured formulation:

"Mana is here for the people, not for the selfish or the foreign elites."

Jonathan Moy said...

There's no complaint about that in the critical report card. There is no mention of imperialism or support for liberation movements in the Mana document.

The closest Mana comes is:

" Mana is a transformative movement for social change where advocates within Parliament work together with transformers within Aotearoa NZ and internationally"

Rather diluted by the nationalistic flavoured formulation:"Mana is here for the people, not for the selfish or the foreign elites."

Narrow minded opinions.

Anonymous said...

"Narrow minded opinions"


Don Franks said...

Yes, I don't see how upholding internationalist solidarity translates as "narrow minded opinions"

Mana foreign affairs spokesperson John Minto did demand that NZ troops withdraw from Afghanistan the other day.

If Mana was to play a part in reviving the antiwar movement in the streets that would be worth a great deal.
If Mana remain focussed on parliamentary seats the odds are they will go the same sad way as the Greens.