Māori Party

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Māori Party

Te Pāti Māori
PresidentChe Wilson
Co-Vice PresidentsBentham Ohia[1]
Kaapua Smith[2]
Founded7 July 2004 (2004-07-07)
Split fromNew Zealand Labour Party
IdeologyMāori rights
Political positionCentre-left[3]
ColorsBlack, red and white
MPs in the House of Representatives
0 / 120

The Māori Party (Māori: Te Pāti Māori) is an indigenous rights-based political party in New Zealand, formed on 7 July 2004.[4] Tariana Turia founded the party after resigning from the Labour Party, where she had been a minister in the Fifth Labour Government, she and Pita Sharples, a high-profile academic, became co-leaders. Since the 2008 election, the party supported a National Party-led government,[3] and Turia and Sharples became ministers outside cabinet.

A similar arrangement continued after the 2011 and 2014 elections. Sharples resigned as male co-leader in 2013 and was replaced by Te Ururoa Flavell, who became Minister for Māori Development (outside cabinet) following the 2014 election. During the 2017 general election, the Māori Party lost its sole electoral seat to the Labour Party and gained only 1.2% of the party vote. As a result, the party failed to reenter the New Zealand House of Representatives.[5]

Principles and policies[edit]

The Māori Party was formed in response to the 2004 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. Tariana Turia resigned as a member of parliament for the Labour Party to form a party that would give Māori an independent voice from the two major parties; the party believed that:

  • Māori owned the foreshore and seabed before British colonisation;
  • 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.[6][7]

The kaupapa of the Māori Party includes four primary principles:[8]

  • Whānau (includes policies regarding affordable housing,[9] strengthening employment-support for Māori beneficiaries[10] and Te Reo Māori)[11]
  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi (includes holding the Crown accountable to their obligations under Te Tiriti O Waitangi and policies on Immigration)[12]
  • Rangatiratanga (includes policies on climate change in the Pacific and scholarships for Māori and Pasifika education to advance Māori and Pasifika as a collective)[13]
  • Kāwanatanga (includes policies on growing iwi economic resources[14] and to protect freshwater as a tāonga)[15]

These principles enable the Māori Party to be held accountable for the maintenance and furthering of Māori concepts in the decision-making process; these concepts are not reflected in the traditional Westminster political system and Māori customary law is excluded from our general legal system.[16] The Māori Party aims to advance the status of Māori people by advocating policies that restore Māori cultural foundations to New Zealand's political system by providing an independent Māori voice.

Māori are the native people of New Zealand. Increasingly since the beginning of colonisation, the group has been marginalised and is now a minority within New Zealand alongside Pacific Islanders.[17] In providing an independent Māori voice, the Māori Party's focus on affordable housing,[18] Māori recruitment into tertiary institutes[19] and a living wage for all workers[20] is based on the premise that Māori are among the low-socio economic communities in New Zealand who are the most disadvantaged when it comes to national inequality.[21]

Several key party policies have included:

  • The upholding of indigenous values[22]
  • Compulsory "heritage studies" in schools[23]
  • Māori ownership of the foreshore and the seabed[citation needed]



The Māori Party's origins can be traced back to the 2004 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. 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 electorates, Tariana Turia and Nanaia Mahuta, announced an intent to vote against the legislation.[24]

Turia, a junior minister, after being informed that voting against the government would appear "incompatible" with holding ministerial rank, announced on 30 April 2004 her intention to resign from the Labour Party, her resignation took effect on 17 May, 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, later joined by Sharples, began organizing a new political party, they and their supporters agreed that the new organisation 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 indicated that they wished to unite "all Māori" into a single political movement.[24]

2005 election[edit]

In the 2005 election, the Māori Party won four out of seven Māori seats and 2.12% of the party vote. The latter entitled the party to only three list seats, so the fourth electorate seat became an overhang seat. In the election night count, the party vote share was under 2% and the Māori Party would have got two overhang seats; when the overhang was reduced to one, National lost a list seat that they appeared to have won on election night. 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.[25]

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 indicated they preferred 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 New Zealand First, 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.[26]

Gerry Brownlee, Deputy Leader of the National Party, claimed after the election that Labour and National each 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.[27] Brash himself later supported this statement and claimed he had witnesses to it;[28] 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.[29] Tariana Turia denied this claim.

On 24 January 2006 the Māori Party's four MPs were jointly welcomed to Rātana pā with the leader of the National Party, Don Brash, together with his delegation of eight MPs, they had been 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."[30] 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.[31]

2008 election[edit]

In the 2008 general election the Māori Party retained all four of the seats it won in 2005, and won an additional seat, when Rahui Katene won Te Tai Tonga from Labour. Two seats were overhang seats; the party's share of the party vote rose slightly to 2.39%.[32] The Labour Party won the party vote by a large majority in every Māori electorate, meaning that the typical Māori voter had split their vote, voting for a Māori Party candidate with their electorate vote and the Labour Party with their party vote.[33]

The National Party won the most seats overall and formed a minority government with the support of the Māori Party, ACT New Zealand and United Future. Sharples was given the Minister of Māori Affairs portfolio and 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.[34] Hone Harawira was critical of the alliance with the National Party and was suspended from the Māori Party in February 2011, he left the party and formed the radical left-wing Mana Party in April 2011.[35]

2011 election[edit]

In the 2011 general election the Māori Party was reduced from five seats to three, as the party vote split between it and Harawira's Mana Party; the Māori Party won three electorate seats. With 1.43% of the party vote, the party was entitled to two seats, resulting in an overhang of one seat. The three MPs were Pita Sharples in Tāmaki Makaurau, Tariana Turia in Te Tai Hauāuru and Te Ururoa Flavell in Waiāriki. Rahui Katene lost the Te Tai Tonga seat to Labour's Rino Tirikatene, and Hone Harawira won the Te Tai Tokerau seat for the Mana Party; the National Party again formed a minority government with the support of the Māori Party, ACT New Zealand and United Future. Pita Sharples again became Minister of Māori Affairs, and Sharples and Turia were ministers outside cabinet. With the retirement of Pita Sharples in 2014, Te Ururoa Flavell became the male co-leader of the party. Tariana Turia also retired in 2014.[36]

2014 election[edit]

Final results from the 2014 general election gave the Māori Party two seats in Parliament. Te Ururoa Flavell won the Waiāriki electorate seat, and the party was entitled to one further list seat (to be occupied by the next person on the party list, Marama Fox) as they received 1.32% of the party vote.[37]

2017 election[edit]

Prior to the 2017 general election, the Māori Party formed an electoral pact with the Mana Movement leader and former Māori Party MP Hone Harawira; the Māori Party agreed not to contest Te Tai Tokerau as part of a deal to regain the Māori electorates from the Labour Party.[38] During the 2017 election on 23 September, the Maori Party failed to take any seats, with Labour capturing all seven of the Māori electorates.[5][39] Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell expressed sadness at the loss of seats and announced he would be resigning from politics.[40] Fellow co-leader Marama Fox expressed bitterness at the party's defeat, remarking that New Zealand had chosen to return to the "age of colonization" and attacked the two major parties, National and Labour, for their alleged paternalism towards Māori.[41] Fox commented that Māori have "gone back like a beaten wife to the abuser" in regards to Labour's sweep of the Māori seats;[42] the Labour Party's dealing with Māori affairs have been controversial in New Zealand's political history, including the 2004 foreshore and seabed controversy.

Electoral results[edit]


Election # of candidates nominated (electorate/list) # of seats won # of party votes % of popular vote Government/Opposition
42 / 51
4 / 121
7 / 19
5 / 122
Supported Fifth National Government
11 / 17
3 / 121
24 / 24
2 / 121
17 / 17
0 / 120


In December 2012, Tariana Turia announced she would resign as party co-leader before the 2014 election. Te Ururoa Flavell announced his interest in a leadership role, but as the Māori Party constitution requires male and female co-leaders, he could not take Turia's place.[43] Shortly after this, in July 2013, Sharples resigned as co-leader, saying he would quit politics altogether come the next general election in 2014, he went on to say that "Our supporters deserve a unified party" which indicated that the leadership tension influenced his decision to resign as party co-leader.[44] Flavell replaced him as the party's male co-leader. In the 2014 General Election, Marama Fox became the party's first List MP, and – as the party's only female Member of Parliament – under the party rules automatically became female co-leader.

Female Co-Leader Assumed Office Left Office Seat
1 Dame Tariana Turia 7 July 2004 September 2014 Te Tai Hauāuru
2 Marama Fox September 2014 August 2018 List
Male Co-Leader Assumed Office Left Office Seat
1 Sir Pita Sharples 7 July 2004 13 July 2013 Tāmaki Makaurau
2 Te Ururoa Flavell 13 July 2013 July 2018 Waiariki

The party also has a president:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://www.maoritelevision.com/news/regional/bentham-ohia-new-maori-party-co-vice-president
  2. ^ "Māori Party elects new executive team, sets sights on future".
  3. ^ a b Marsh, Ian; Miller, Raymond (2012). Democratic Decline and Democratic Renewal: Political Change in Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Cambridge University Press. p. 284. ISBN 9781139537018.
  4. ^ "George Ngatai- Standing for President of Maori Party- Speech". scoop.co.nz. Scoop News.
  5. ^ a b "2017 General Election – Official Result". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  6. ^ Hickford, Mark. "Law of the foreshore and seabed – Māori rights". e Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  7. ^ Hickford, Mark. "Law of the foreshore and seabed – Challenge and controversy". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Māori Party Kaupapa". Māori Party. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Māori Party Housing Policy 2017". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Māori Party Employment Policy 2017". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Māori Party Te Reo Māori Policy 2017". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Māori Party Immigration Policy 2017". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  13. ^ "Māori Party Pasefika Policy 2017". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Māori Party Economic Policy 2017". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Māori Party Environment Policy". Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  16. ^ Jackson, Moana (1990). "Criminality and the Exclusion of Māori". Victoria University of Wellington Law Review. 20: 27–29.
  17. ^ Pearson, David (5 May 2011). "Ethnic Inequalities in New Zealand". Te Ara. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  18. ^ "Māori Party Housing Policy 2017". Māori Party. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Māori Party Education Policy 2017". Māori Party. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  20. ^ "Māori Party Employment Policy 2017". Māori Party. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  21. ^ Pollock, Kerryn (5 May 2011). "Health and Society in New Zealand: Socio-economic status, ethnicity and health inequality". Te Ara. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  22. ^ "Election Policy 2008". Maori Party. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2011. Our commitment to you is that we will uphold indigenous values, to ensure our country maintains its natural beauty for all who call this land home.
  23. ^ "Election Policy 2008". Māori Party. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2011. Primary and secondary schools will be required to teach heritage studies, which will include a history of the Pacific, in line with the aspirations of Pacific people.
  24. ^ a b Morgan Godfery, "Chapter 4.4: The Māori Party," pp. 240–241.
  25. ^ Morgan Godfery, "Chapter 4.4: The Māori Party," pp. 243–244.
  26. ^ "Maori Party stays in opposition". The New Zealand Herald. 18 October 2005.
  27. ^ Crewdson, Patrick (16 October 2005). "Coalition talks in chaos as Nats accuse Clark of failure". The New Zealand Herald.
  28. ^ Young, Audrey (19 October 2005). "Brash: I had the 57 votes". The New Zealand Herald.
  29. ^ Tony Gee, Audrey Young and Ruth Berry (7 October 2005). "National courts the Maori Party". The New Zealand Herald.
  30. ^ Dewes, Haydon (25 January 2006). "Taking partners for Ratana waltz". The Dominion Post.
  31. ^ Stokes, Jon (25 January 2006). "Parties forced to share stage at Ratana marae". The New Zealand Herald.
  32. ^ Chief Electoral Office: Official Count results: Overall status.
  33. ^ See Māori electorate results at Chief Electoral Office: Official Count results: Electorate details.
  34. ^ "Key's Government". The New Zealand Herald. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  35. ^ Morgan Godfery, "Chapter 4.4: The Māori Party," pp. 246–247.
  36. ^ Morgan Godfery, "Chapter 4.4: The Māori Party," pp. 247–248.
  37. ^ "New Zealand 2014 General Election Official Results". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  38. ^ Moir, Jo (20 February 2017). "Hone Harawira gets clear Te Tai Tokerau run for Mana not running against Maori Party in other seats". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  39. ^ Graham, Charlotte (23 September 2017). "Center-Right Party Hangs on in New Zealand Election". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 September 2017. A major upset in Saturday's results was the vanquishing of the Maori Party, a group which grew out of protest action about indigenous rights to New Zealand's foreshore and seabed. Formed in 2004, the party won two seats at the 2014 election; in the next Parliament, it will have none.
  40. ^ Trevett, Claire (24 September 2017). "Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell leaving politics". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  41. ^ Satherley, Dan (24 September 2017). "NZ voted for return to 'the age of colonisation' – Marama Fox". Newshub. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  42. ^ "Māori have 'gone back like a beaten wife to the abuser', defiant Marama Fox says". Stuff. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  43. ^ "Ratana unveiling for Turia's successor?". DominionPost. 13 January 2013
  44. ^ "Pita Sharples stands down, Flavell likely successor". One News. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2014.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]