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The Māori Party
Te Tōrangapū Māori
Leader Tariana Turia
Pita Sharples
President Prof. Whatarangi Winiata
Founded July 7, 2004 (2004-07-07)
Headquarters PO Box 50-271, Porirua
Ideology Protects and upholds the rights and interests of the Māori people.
International affiliation None
Official colours Mainly black and red, pink otherwise
MPs in the House of Representatives 5
Website
http://www.maoriparty.org/
Politics of New Zealand
Political parties
Elections

The Māori Party, a political party in New Zealand, was formed on 7 July 2004. The party is guided by eight constitutional "kaupapa", meaning in this context the way the party frames the objectives of the organisation. Co-Leader Tariana Turia formed the Māori Party after resigning from the Labour Party where she had been a Cabinet Minister in the Fifth Labour-led Government. Pita Sharples, a high-profile academic, became co-Leader. After the 2008 election, the Party supported the National-led government, and Turia and Sharples became ministers outside of cabinet.

Contents

Formation

The foreshore and seabed controversy, a debate about whether Māori have legitimate claim to ownership of part or all of New Zealand's foreshore and seabed, became the catalyst for setting up the Māori Party.

The Māori Party believes:

  • Māori owned the foreshore and seabed before British colonization;
  • The Treaty of Waitangi made no specific mention of foreshore or seabed;
  • No-one has subsequently purchased or otherwise acquired the foreshore or the seabed; and
  • Māori should therefore still own the seabed and the foreshore today.

A court judgement stated that some Māori appeared to have the right to seek formal ownership of a specific portion of seabed in the Marlborough Sounds. This prospect alarmed many sectors of New Zealand society, however, and the Labour Party foreshadowed legislation in favour of state ownership instead. This angered many Māori, including many of Labour's Māori MPs. Two MPs representing Māori seats, Tariana Turia and Nanaia Mahuta, announced an intent to vote against the legislation.

Turia, a junior minister, once informed that voting against the government would appear "incompatible" with holding ministerial rank, announced on April 30, 2004 her intention to resign from the Labour Party. Her resignation took effect on May 17, and she left parliament until she won a by-election in her Te Tai Hauauru seat two months later.

After leaving the Labour Party, Turia, subsequently joined by Sharples, began organizing a new political party. They and their supporters agreed that the new organization would simply use the name of "the Māori Party". They chose a logo of black and red — traditional Māori colours — incorporating a koru design, also traditional.

The leaders of the Māori Party have indicated that they wish to unite "all Māori" into a single political movement.

Policies

  • Māori ownership of the foreshore and the seabed
  • Retirement age for Māori to be reduced to 60
  • Tax reductions
  • Teaching of Māori and Pacific history in schools

2005 election

In 2005 election, the party won four out of seven Māori seats and 2.12% of the party vote. This entitled the Māori Party to 3 list seats, so the fourth electorate seat became an overhang seat. Tariana Turia held Te Tai Hauauru; Pita Sharples won the Tamaki Makaurau electorate; Hone Harawira, son of Titewhai Harawira, won Te Tai Tokerau; and Te Ururoa Flavell won Waiariki.

In the post-election period the Māori Party convened a series of hui to decide whether to support Labour or National, though some party leaders have indicated they prefer to deal with Labour. That day, however, Turia and Prime Minister Helen Clark met privately and ruled out a formal coalition. Coupled with the support of the Greens and Progressives, Māori Party support would have given Clark just enough support to govern without the support of other parties. However, in the end, no deal was done and the Māori Party stayed in Opposition, citing that they were not prepared to compromise their positions.[1]

Gerry Brownlee, Deputy Leader of the National Party claimed after the election that both Labour and National could rely on "57 seats" out of the 62 required in the 2005 election to govern. This implied that National had received support from United Future [3], Act [2] and the Māori Party [4] in addition to National's own 49 seats.[2] Brash himself later supported this statement and claimed he had witnesses to it.[3] This came after the National Party tried to woo the Māori Party in attempts to both see if a coalition arrangement was feasible and to counter any attempts which may have been made by Helen Clark.[4] Tariana Turia denied this claim.

Rātana pā

On 24 January 2006 the Māori Party's four MPs were jointly welcomed to the Rātana pā with the Leader of the Opposition and leader of the National Party, Don Brash, together with his delegation of eight MPs. They were originally intended to be welcomed on half an hour apart but agreed to be welcomed and sit together. Turia disputed claims that this was pre-arranged, saying: "We're here for a birthday. We're not here for politics."[5]

However critics said this would have reminded onlookers of how the Māori Party and National were said to be in coalition or confidence and supply talks. This may also have served to reinforce the Labour Party's election campaign statement that a 'vote for the Māori Party is a vote for National'. One Ratana kaumatua (elder) said this was deliberate and deserved after the talks.[6]

2008 election

In the 2008 general election the Maori Party retained all four of the seats it won in 2005, and also won an additional seat, Te Tai Tonga, from Labour. Rahui Katene became the Maori Party's fifth MP with the Te Tai Tonga seat.

The Maori Party's share of the party vote remained low, at 2.39%.[7] The Labour Party won the party vote by a large majority in every Maori electorate, meaning that the typical Maori voter had split their vote, voting for a Maori Party candidate with their electorate vote and the Labour Party with their party vote.[8]

The National Party won the most seats overall and formed a minority government with the support of the Maori Party as well as ACT New Zealand and United Future. Sharples was given the Minister of Maori Affairs portfolio and also became an Associate Minister of Corrections and Associate Minister of Education. Turia became Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Associate Minister of Health and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment.[9]

See also

References

External links

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