The Māori Party is set to win back its founding Te Tai Hauāuru seat in next year’s general elections.
Howie Tamati of Ngāti Mutunga, Te Ātiawa and Ngāi Tahu was announced as the candidate to contest the seat at a meeting today in Ōtaki of the party’s branches in the electorate.
“Howie has the reach we need to win this seat, even Māori people who don’t vote know him,” Māori Party President Tukoroirangi Morgan said.
“Howie is a true son of Taranaki, of Te Tai Hauāuru and of Aotearoa who we know will be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to mobilising Māori to vote for him and our party.
“The Te Tai Hauāuru seat is coming home.”
Mr Morgan acknowledged the other nominee for the candidacy, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer of Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Ruahine and Ngā Rauru.
“I salute Debbie, and her people from Pātea who came with her today, for putting herself forward.
“It was an extremely difficult decision to make because we had to choose between two quality people, who both have outstanding pedigree, to fight for this seat.”
Mr Tamati is a father and grandfather best known as a New Zealand Kiwi rugby league legend who played 50 games for our country.
“I want to use the reach I have with grassroots Māori in the electorate, throughout the country and in Australia to ensure Māori have a voice in Parliament and seats at the table where decisions are made that affect them,” Mr Tamati said.
He is currently Chief Executive Officer at Sport Taranaki and last year he was recognised by Sport NZ with a lifetime achievement award.
While most known for his sporting feats, Mr Tamati also has an extensive background in local government, serving 15 years on the New Plymouth District Council.
As a councillor he has championed issues including Māori representation in local government, kaupapa Māori based programmes for prisoner rehabilitation and more recently arguing against the Waitara Endowment Lands Bill as it favoured the leaseholders over hapū and iwi from whom the land was originally confiscated.
Mr Tamati is a trustee of Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, Te Rūnanga of Ngāti Mutunga and the Te Ana Youth Trust in New Plymouth.
He is a founding member and also part of the leadership group of Taranaki Toa which has helped hundreds of people engage in regular exercise and activity to improve their fitness including the running of low-cost kaupapa Māori triathlon events to encourage whānau to embark on a healthy lifestyle journey.
Howie has been married to Aroaro for 29 years. He is proud father of seven children and grandfather of five.