AGENDA- JUNE 18
SIMON Today marks the official launch of Destiny New Zealand's election campaign. Founded in 2003 the part is contesting 32 general electorates and all seven Maori seats. Destiny New Zealand is the political wing of Destiny Church and describes itself as centre right. Party leader Richard Lewis is here with me now.
Mr Lewis, tell us about what's happening this weekend about the launch.
RICHARD Sure well it's the culmination of two years planning and preparation towards the point where Telstra Clear Pacific Event Centre, Manukau City we'll have that filled to capacity for the launch of our campaign. I'll present as you say 42 candidates and the campaign message of Destiny New Zealand moving forward.
SIMON What is the relationship with the church, what role does the church play in a political organisation?
RICHARD Well it's a Christian based party obviously, we have strong alignments with not just Destiny Church but most churches in New Zealand in fact. It's fair to say that myself and the key leaders of Destiny New Zealand the political party come out of Destiny Church and so we've been thankful in fact to have a strong platform and network in the Destiny Church network to launch a political campaign and party, notwithstanding we've got candidates from outside of the Destiny Church network and members of the political party as well, so it's been a great platform for us.
SIMON Who do you see as your natural constituency?
RICHARD Well general public who hold fast to the traditional founding values of our nation is the starting point, moving from there as you said we have seven candidates standing in all seven Maori electorates. We align naturally with the family, of New Zealand people who care about the future of our children and the institution of marriage.
SIMON How important are those Maori seats to the party?
RICHARD Oh they're very important because there are issues facing Maori in our nation right now that we speak strongly into, such as the strength of families and what's happening with Maori children in the generations looking forward ten to 20 years.
SIMON Why don’t you just get in behind United Future or one of the other Christian parties, it seems you're on the same ground?
RICHARD Oh we got behind United Future at the last election but not for them to give confidence and supply to a Labour government that’s rolled out these anti family legislations over the last three years, so I think people are now looking for based on the current environment a vehicle that embodies everything when we're talking about family values, the wellbeing of children and Destiny New Zealand provides that.
SIMON A couple of months ago on TVNZ in March, March 25th in the news you said the party is and I quote an “entirely separate institution from the church Destiny Church, but you can't separate religion from politics,” why not, that’s what secular states are about isn’t it?
RICHARD Well not at all, and as I say you're quite right, there is indeed a separation of the function in church and state, but you can't separate religion or your particular belief system from politics because the reality is we have politicians in government right now that are making decisions on your and I behalf and behalf of our children that are having severe implications on the health of our society and our community as a whole. This is where you can't separate politics from your particularly belief system. Our belief system happens to align with the traditional founding values of our nation, the Christian founding values of our nation, and if there's ever been a time to have an anchor back into that, that time is now and Destiny New Zealand provides that.
SIMON Other major churches agree with you quite heavily here, the Anglican Bishop of Aotearoa, Bishop Brown Tere said straight out in the Herald on the 7th of March- church and politics don’t mix.
RICHARD Well I think he would be speaking specifically to the function of church and politics and that’s where they are indeed separate, I know for example there are a lot of pastors who wouldn’t want anything to do with administering the function of government and the functions of the state, but we are all living right now under a government that is making decisions on our behalf and that of our families that we disagree with and so we've seen situations such as the Civil Union Bill, the Prostitution Bill, as having severe implications of our children and our community and this is where I think people from right across the board who don’t even actually align themselves with the Christian faith are concerned about the moral state of our nation looking forward.
SIMON Brian Tamaki's role within the party, I mean and the fact that today is the day he is ordained as Bishop?
RICHARD That’s right.
SIMON Who appointed him?
RICHARD Oh his pastors did of which there are 20 in the leadership the same process of appointership as I understand that other churches apply.
SIMON And he was already head of the church wasn’t he?
RICHARD Yes he was.
SIMON Why does he need an extra….
RICHARD Well because the function and title of bishop mean oversight of a movement and that’s what he is, so it's only right and fitting that he has that function or title applied.
SIMON Do you answer to him?
RICHARD Well I make myself accountable to him in terms of the integrity that I walk in in the Christian faith and that’s important not just for myself in fact but for candidates of Destiny New Zealand who make themselves voluntarily accountable to a local church pastor, I think that’s a very good thing.
SIMON On the party website you say you want to keep more money in the home through lower taxes yet the Destiny Church requires tithing- isn’t that a double standard?
RICHARD It's not a Destiny Church requirement it's a biblical requirement that most churches in New Zealand hold fast to.
SIMON Most churches? Ten percent tithing?
RICHARD That’s correct, yeah it's a biblical principle, it's not a Destiny Church principle it's one that is in the Bible that’s taught in most churches and myself actually believing the Bible apply it in my own life.
SIMON If you were to have a role in the next government who would you favour as coalition partners?
RICHARD Sure we see ourselves on the centre right and therefore we naturally align with a party like a National, on that side.
SIMON The party that wants to abolish Maori seats?
RICHARD Well of course you're gonna have differences of opinion in different areas but the reality is that’s the status of MMP environment and we need to align ourselves somewhere and that’s where we I guess right now most comfortably fit and in fact if people are looking for a party that would anchor a National government into those moral and traditional founding values of our nation Destiny New Zealand would provide that.
SIMON If you end up talking a coalition role, what is non negotiable?
RICHARD Non negotiable is anything that threatens the institution of marriage that being between a man and a woman, anything that threatens the stability of the intergenerational family and anything that I guess threatens what most of us say is the traditional family values and the sort of things that our forefathers lived and died for.
SIMON Given what you're saying do you accept that your candidates have a higher moral standard upon them?
RICHARD I think it's fair to say that we have set ourselves a standard that we would like to see adhered to notwithstanding – hey we live in the real world people make mistakes but I think as leaders and certainly leaders who are making decisions on behalf of our country and our families to the children in future generations that’s a standard that we are responsible to set for ourselves.
SIMON You say people make mistakes, can you be certain that there are no Graham Capils hiding in your closet?
RICHARD I can't guarantee anything.
SIMON Let me bring the panel in here and ask them for their questions.
RICHARD Well I think it's been a very positive polarisation in the sense that right, as a result of many developments politically in our country it's forced people to have to look at the issues and make a decision as where they stand on them, and in that sense it's where I come back to the point that I think most New Zealanders want to see those traditional founding values of our nation upheld, and that’s what Bishop Tamaki has consistently done to the point where we took that message to parliament.
COLIN But they haven’t been so keen for example on seeing black shirts marching down the streets of Lambton Quay and Auckland, I mean that’s obviously turned off some people, does it concern you that Destiny is obviously going to turn off people to that extent, I mean generally in politics you try and include people rather than exclude them.
RICHARD We're probably the most inclusive organisation you'd find in this country but that message or perception sent to the community was more based on the media than what the reality of that march was, and I think people have made comments about raised fists and so forth but I know there's a lot of people sitting in their lounge who are raising fists at their television based on decisions politicians are making, we just had the conviction to make a stand in the public arena over matters we felt important. Once again the institution of marriage that has threatened and actually undermined by government at this time.
FRAN O'SULLIVAN – Assistant Editor, NZ Herald
RICHARD Well our campaign from the outset has to be I guess making a stand on those values, the institution of marriage. As I say it was the media that did a bit of a number on us by focusing on certain issues when there were other factions as well.
FRAN You could not avoid it.
RICHARD Well anybody who was actually there who saw the fullness of the occasion and heard the message of the men that presented there know that it was a stand for traditional family values and the institution of marriage.
SIMON Well a very intimidatory fashion it came across as though.
RICHARD Well I guess once again we've got a situation where there's men who are making a stand for what they believe and it's important to say that if you're talking about the Kapa Haka and those walking down the street down there in Wellington, many of those guys used to be communities' worst nightmare, but now they're making a stand for what they believe, they're doing good things for their family and their children and they're positively contributing to our community.
COLIN Fairfax AC Nielsen this morning, poll just out this morning in the nation's morning newspaper owned by Fairfax put Destiny on one percent, given you’ve got no chance really of winning an electorate seat how are you gonna get into parliament at all.
RICHARD Well I think that’s indicative of all the minor parties to be polling very low right now at this point. The challenge we had as a political party starting out and stepping up to the plate for our first election is registering in the consciousness of the New Zealand voter, we've achieved that. Now it's about bringing clarity and accuracy to our message that we're presenting to the public, so I've spoken in forums from the Christchurch Rotary Club all the way up to Waitangi, and when people have the opportunity to catch the heart of what it is we're doing and what we believe in they see that we're very similar on many issues.
SIMON Leader of the Destiny New Zealand Party Richard Lewis thank you very much for joining us on Agenda today.
PITA Kia ora.
SIMON You heard Richard Lewis a little earlier from Destiny New Zealand Party.
PITA I did, yes.
SIMON He talked about the men who may have intimidated so many New Zealanders the Kapa Haka group being society's former problems, former worst problems, this would be some synergy I imagine.
PITA Well as far as we are concerned we're looking at what Maori should be and could be for New Zealand and how it can embrace all the people of New Zealand and take the country forward to a new place.
SIMON You're in the second week of a nationwide tour to discuss your policy programme are you outlining policy to Maori, or are you seeking their input to devise it?
PITA It's really a tour to front up face to face. We've had tremendous support from all the regions and now people want to see us, so we're on a tour and the candidates, we're all on it but we come and go as we have other requirements but really at the end of the day it's to front up face to face to our people but yes we are discussing policy but more kaupapa, the philosophy.
SIMON Are you formulating policy from their input?
PITA Yes we've already done that. We've had a number of times, we're on version 42 or something of various policies, we've been using the people that we know all over New Zealand.
SIMON What are the essential platforms as far as you're concerned?
PITA What we have is really a way of looking at things. If you can imagine a weaving we have nine philosophies and they're Maori concepts kotahitanga – togetherness, kaitiakitanga – guardianship, all those things, caring for each other, and as there's nine if you like threads, and then cross cutting those are three themes, one is about ourselves, that whanau caring for ourselves, the second one is the Treaty of Waitangi which is caring for others and the third one is the economy which is our caring for New Zealand and our place in the world, and that provides a sort of matrix from which all we apply to all our policies.
SIMON Well let's pick up on the economy then, tax of course currently a very hot issue what's the Maori Party position on it?
PITA The Maori Party position on tax is still being worked through because of the – at the moment the big debate between National and Labour about the way one handled it and the other one wants to make definite tax cuts. What's we're more concerned with is unbundling a whole lot of money that is being used negatively throughout this country in a sort of a welfare mode. We want to unbundle that money and use it positively to promote people's chance to climb up in society.
SIMON Nuclear issue, in a press release on the 4th of May you said the Maori Party said that we should be investigating nuclear power and other energy sources as substitutes for oil and gas, Tariana Turia said our dependence on oil is hurting those on low incomes who are spending a lot of their wage on petrol. What is your position on the nuclear free policy, do you support nuclear as a possible energy option?
PITA We haven’t looked at nuclear as a possible energy option, we are really keen on natural capital which is like using the wind and the environment to provide our power. I think we've really gotta relook at this and our reliance on oil and gas and things like this is going to come to an end sooner or later and I think we should really be proactive and look at natural capital.
SIMON Would you look at nuclear if natural capital as you call it wasn’t sufficient?
PITA Well at this stage no, but you know what we do is determined by the people, our electorates. Unlike other parties that have a central council which makes the decisions even who stands for our various rohe our various electorates is decided by each electorate so it would be taken back to the people.
SIMON In the Listener on the 7th of May you said you would push unabashedly for race based funding in government, is that non negotiable for you in order to enter a coalition?
PITA Absolutely and you see it's about recognising tangatawhenua. I listened to that discussion about the Maori television. Maori television has got to be there because it represents New Zealand's history for over a thousand years, and it's important that we all relish this history and become what we are New Zealanders instead of just clinging on to the last 200 years in a relationship to other parts of the world, so yes.
SIMON So race based funding is a non negotiable.
PITA It has to be.
SIMON You also say you want resources and programmes that satisfy rangatiratanga under Article 2 and of course you’ve also mentioned that – well you didn’t mention it, but it is mentioned in your nine kaupapa. What does rangatiratanga mean in practice?
PITA Rangatiratanga means an opportunity to make decisions and to participate in the activities that are open to everybody, it means access to the services that look – many of our people are poor, in fact our party is very poor, we are very rich in people, we have the troops on the ground but in terms of actual money no, and so some people who are living below the breadline they are unable to exercise choice like others who can and that’s really what we talk about rangatiratanga is giving everybody the opportunity to exercise the choices in New Zealand.
SIMON In policy terms you’ve also said you want an end to student loans, free Te Reo lessons and more money for wangana and restorative justice programmes, have you costed this can we afford it?
PITA We can afford it and we have costed it, it's a question of unbundling all the money that’s gone to a sort of a welfare state where we've got CYFS we've got WINZ we've got probation, we've got the courts, we've got gaols, too many gaols. All that negative money going in there needs to be unbundled and alternatives sought, that’s like restorative justice.
SIMON I want to quote to you again from Tariana Turia in the Listener on the 7th May, in reality she says if you look at the history of the National Party because of their free market, private enterprise philosophy they’ve actually allowed Maori people to participate and take back some control. Kohangareo, Kurakaupapa, Wananga, Maori health provider, Maori social service providers were Maori initiatives, it all came out under National governments, does this mean you favour National over Labour?
PITA Not at all, what this does mean it just points out that Labour has not done anything special for Maori. Labour has had a good time in terms of the world economy and everything's buoyant and – fairly buoyant and unemployment's gone down, but always there's a gap between Maori and Pakeha in those things but yes all those initiatives which were fought hard by Maori were created mostly under a National government.
SIMON Do you believe you could work with either side?
PITA We can work with anybody who is prepared to not take away our bottom line and our bottom line is recognition of the Treaty, of tangatawhenua status, you know every other country looks at their indigenous people as being important in the history, we fight to save birds, we fight to save an old house, we fight to save trees, whales, yet here the indigenous people and nobody even bothers to pronounce the names of our leaders correctly or anything like that, so it just shows….
SIMON I think many of us try Dr Sharples but it's a matter of time isn’t it?
PITA How much time do you want, I mean it's the easiest language in the world to pronounce, it's phonemic so it should be easy.
SIMON Winston Peters said yesterday that he'd end what he called race based special treatment in the delivery of government services, could you work with New Zealand First?
PITA We could work with anybody but Winston would have to change his attitude on a few things, I mean even his brothers and sisters would agree with us on most of our issues, and so you know Winston's gotta stop being just for Winston and if he's going to make claims that he stands for Maori as well as very other New Zealander he should show it.
SIMON He says no race based funding, you say it's a bottom line. Let me ask the panellists what they think.
PITA That’s right and that’s what we're talking to them about, but you know they are more concerned that we don’t compromise our stand. You see the Foreshore and Seabed legislation was just the straw on the camel's back if you like because it just – every time we get an advantage or a window or opportunity it's closed down on us so it's a question of staying true to our people on kaupapa Maori and we're going to do that, we're not going to turn our backs on the people. See that’s what happened over that legislation it was the fact that we put those people in there and we even increased the number of seats, we put them in there and suddenly when it came to us or their party they chose their party. So you know – that means either the Maori seats are useless or the wrong people are in there, so our first thing is to get in there and be true to our electors.
FRAN I wanted to know Dr Sharples is there anyone with in National that perhaps represents that old style mould of conservative politician who had an eye for the greater good, you know the Doug Graham's of this world, that the Maori Party today could affiliate with or indeed might be talking to now about how things work out.
PITA Let me assure you the Maori Party is not talking to anybody at this stage, we're talking to ourselves, we are very very tight and close knit. We are polling very very well in our own polls and those are the people that are going to vote for us. We will take the seven seats and we are neither left nor right and whoever wants to dance with us has to have that bottom line otherwise we'll be on our own and if we have to that’s fine too, but as a Maori caucus within parliament we will attract the other Maoris as Maori issues come up and I know they will join us on these issues and that’s how we will begin to increase our platform if you like.
SIMON Co-leader of the Maori Party Dr Pita Sharples thank you very much for joining us on Agenda today.
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