Pita, please don’t go!

There is still so much to be done. You are needed at the helm. So please, Pita Sharples, reconsider your decision to resign as Maori Party co-leader.

If you go now you will leave the party facing an uncertain future. But if you stay on its destiny will be assured. You owe it to your people to do the right thing.

It can’t be a coincidence that your party’s fortunes have declined ever since you decided to go with National in 2008. John Key gave you a few wins, but most of your successes were symbolic ones. You were a party of five MPs when you went with National, and you are now just three. The progressive and activist wing of your party deserted you when Hone Harawira left, and you will now be lucky to keep one seat after the next general election.

You have always argued that it is better to be at the big table where the decisions were being made. The trouble is you never were at the big boys’ table. You were under it, eating the scraps that the master threw down. It must haunt you that Peter Dunne, whose party holds (or perhaps I should now say held) a single seat in Parliament, has achieved much more in the way of policy wins than your entire caucus ever has.

Maori continue to do badly under most measurements of well-being. Maori are much more likely to be imprisoned than non-Maori, and rates of illness and poverty among Maori are disproportionately high. After almost five years of sharing power with National, what have you done to turn around these terrible statistics?

If you are making a difference in the lives of ordinary Maori, then they don’t appear to have realised it. It’s no wonder that so many who voted for them in 2008 have apparently abandoned them.

So please stay right where you are. Your job isn’t finished. You have almost completed the destruction of the party you founded, but some small remnant remains.

Did the captain of the Titanic abandon his vessel after steering it into the iceberg? No, he went down with his ship. So should you.

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