Speech: Te Tawharau launch
Te Mapou marae
Embargoed to 4pm Wednesday, 1 September 1999
MP for Te Tai Rawhiti
For many months now the media have wanted to know what I intend doing in the next election. I have always thought that
for the past 12 months my intentions have been made very clear. It is just that the Pakeha media don't or won't listen
to the kaupapa.
My position is that I am committed to showing the Maori voter, how it is possible under MMP for Maori to hold the
balance of power at the next election. I am committed to persuading you, the Maori voter, to exercise your vote so that
Maori do hold the balance of power.
The media have, over recent months, continually talked about how a minor Pakeha political party could hold the balance
of power with just two or three seats. Not surprisingly they refuse to consider the possibility of Maori holding the
balance of power.
But the reality is that we can do it. And all we have to do, for it to happen, is to really want it.
All it takes is two things. First, that you, the Maori voter, has the will. And second, that Maori are persuaded of the
necessity to vote for candidates who owe their allegiance first and foremost to Maori. Those candidates cannot be found
from within the ranks of those parties owned and controlled by Pakeha. As I well know from personal experience, when the
needs and interests of Maori clash with the needs and interests of the Pakeha majority in any of the existing political
parties, it is the needs and interests of the Pakeha majority which will prevail.
I am confident that if Maori elect candidates who do not owe their allegiance to Pakeha political vehicles, then we
will finally see the co-operation between Maori members for which our people have been calling.
I know that many will tell us that we can never have kotahitanga because we have many different factions. This is true
- but it is also true of Pakeha and they have managed to deal with their different factions to their advantage. I am
sure that Maori are just as capable.
To this end I have met with as many of the Maori political vehicles as possible and I am more convinced than ever that
any one member from any one of these vehicles who is elected to Parliament would be committed to joining to work in a
Maori coalition - a "Waka Maori".
Waka Maori would then be free to negotiate to enter a coalition with Pakeha parties. But unlike our representation in
the past, MPs from Waka Maori would be accountable first and last to Maori, and only to Maori.
We could, 159 years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, enter into that partnership, Maori and Pakeha, just as
our ancestors envisaged way back in 1840.
We would finally have Maori at the Cabinet table. And we would be there as Maori representing a Maori political party.
Not Maori hiding under the skirts of a Pakeha political party where any decision on Maori policy must first get through
a party caucus. A caucus where the Maori Members of Parliament are always outnumbered by their Pakeha colleagues.
I am tired of standing in the shadows. I am tired of standing behind Pakeha. But neither do I want them to stand behind
me in my shadow. I want to stand as partners, side by side, sharing in government equally.
The question then is: what can I do to best ensure the success of this kaupapa?
Maori coalition · Waka Maori · Balance of power for Maori
I believe so strongly in the Waka Maori concept, a concept that allows the different factions in Te Ao Maori to exist,
to flourish, but still to come together for the good of our people, that although my term in office has been hard on my
immediate family I have determined to stand again to try and bring it about.
I had originally decided to demonstrate that this would be possible by standing as an independent promoting the "Waka
Maori" concept. However, I have been approached by Te Tawharau who also believe strongly in the need for a Waka Maori,
for a coalition of Maori in Parliament. They wished to help me with my campaign and to help spread the message to our
Te Tawharau was the first Maori party to be registered for the MMP environment, they are the first to sign up
wholeheartedly to the Waka Maori concept, and they were born from within Mataatua and Te Arawa.
I have decided that the campaign to bring our people on board the Waka Maori would be best served by accepting the
offer to stand as a candidate in the new seat of Waiariki for Te Tawharau. I welcome the enthusiasm and help in
spreading the message in a way that would be difficult to do as an independent.
I remain committed to seeing that just as Pakeha have united, Maori can also unite - be they members of Te Tawharau,
Mana Maori, Mana Wahine, Mauri Pacific, Aotearoa New Zealand, Piri Wiri Tua, Maori Freedom or Independent Maori
candidates. Our differences are nothing compared to our common desire to serve our people with members who are
accountable to Maori, in a vehicle owned by Maori.
The opportunity is in front of us - we need only grasp it.