Maori party founder and co-leader Tariana Turia is well respected across the political spectrum.
Like her Party, Mrs Turia is very hard to pin down to a specific ideology.
In some areas she is conservative, in others she is liberal and others she is socialist.
The socialist aspect probably derives from her political awakening in the ’70s when she came under the influence of the late Catholic priest Fr John Curnow.
A Marxist and Liberation Theologian, Fr Curnow influenced thousands of New Zealanders, both inside and outside the Church, with his Structural Analysis seminars.
Originally called “Marxist Structural Analysis“, the seminars were based on the writings of a Mauritian Catholic priest, Fr Philippe Fanchette.
They were designed to open Catholic eyes to the “structural” inequalities in society, particularly regarding indigenous races and provide a Marxist guideline for correcting them.
Tariana Turia told North&South (February 2004) about her political awakening through women’s groups in Wanganui in the ’70s;
“We started meeting and politicising ourselves, Fr John Curnow took us through structural analysis, transforming our thinking and giving us an understanding of how the system worked, how the powerful operated. We learned about the treaty. It was hidden away from us when we were young, we were never taught about it, I didn’t even know it existed.”
New Zealand can probably thank an obscure Catholic priest for the formation of the Maori Party.
Hopefully its leaders will take the Party in a liberal direction that would make old John Curnow turn in his grave.