The decision by the Maori Party to conclude an Agreement with the National-led government represents a triumph of pragmatism over noisy rhetoric.
In the Parliament elected by New Zealanders on November 26th only one of the major parties was in a position to form a government and that was National. The choice before the Maori Party was therefore a simple one – should it offer limited support to the government in return for certain policy gains which would have a positive and practical impact on daily life for Maori or should it go into Opposition for the next three years?
The Whanau Ora programme which is still in its infancy has not yet had a chance to be implemented, to work and to be evaluated. The Maori Party has already chalked up particular policy wins during the 2008-11 term of office – including a not insignificant amount of public funding for Maori development. Since the emergence of the Maori Party both major parties have been competing for Maori support. For that alone the party deserves credit. In politics talk is cheap. Ultimately actions do speak louder than words.