Māori Party candidate for Te Tai Tonga, Mei Reedy-Taare, has said the only thing ‘explosive’ about New Zealand First’s party convention pledge was the sounds of disbelief that any party would still think that abolishing the Māori seats would gain the popular vote.
“It is disappointing that this year – the year that marks 150 years since the Māori Representation Act 1867 established four Māori seats in the House of Representatives – we would still have to have this worn-out record playing again,” said Mei Reedy-Taare who is contesting Te Tai Tonga for the Māori Party.
“I am proud to stand on our history, to look from the legacy of all those who have stood for Southern Māori from the pioneers of Parliament – John Patterson, Hori Kerei Taiaroa, Ihaia Tainui, Tame Parata and all those who followed in their footsteps.
“I would have hoped that this 150th year of Māori representation would be a perfect platform for all of us to be at the table with an equal voice yet it seems New Zealand First is forgetting its own history and turning its back on their own MPs who took the Māori seats in 1996.
“One of my six promises I am standing on this election is to claim our identity. Currently at Christchurch Museum, the exhibition Hākui: Women of Kāi Tahu proudly features one of my predecessors : Tini Whetu Marama Tirikatene-Sullivan – the youngest woman elected to Parliament, the first female Māori cabinet Minister, and with a phenomenal record of serving Te Tai Tonga for 10 parliamentary terms.
“Our identity as Māori, as wahine, as Te Tai Tonga has been shaped by those champions who have served our people in the Māori seats. NZ First’s tired old battle-cry to abolish our seats belongs to a different era [and is completely out of touch with Māori needs].
“The Māori Party is passionate about our history; committed to our future and passionate about our identity as Māori. We are determined to honour the parliamentary heritage of Māori representation that has paved the way for our mokopuna over the last 150 years.
“In 2017, rather than abolish the seats, we embrace and celebrate them as being a vital platform for whānau transformation across all sectors.”