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 from New Zealand Labour Party
Ideology Māori rights
Political position Centre-left [3]
ColorsBlack, red and white
MPs in the House of Representatives
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The Māori Party (Māori : Te Pāti Māori) is an indigenous rights-based centre-left [3] political party in New Zealand. Tariana Turia founded the party in 2004 after resigning from the governing centre-left Labour Party, in which she was a minister, over the foreshore and seabed ownership controversy. She and Pita Sharples, a high-profile academic, became the first co-leaders.


The party won four Māori seats in the 2005 election and went into Opposition. After the 2008, 2011 and 2014 elections, where the party won five, three and two Māori seats respectively, it supported a government led by the centre-right National Party, [3] with the co-leaders being ministers outside cabinet. Sharples resigned as male co-leader in 2013 and was replaced by Te Ururoa Flavell, who became a minister after the 2014 election. Turia retired in 2014 and was replaced by Marama Fox as female co-leader. The Māori Party failed to win any seats in the 2017 election and left Parliament. [4]

Principles and policies

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:

The kaupapa (policy) of the Māori Party includes four primary principles: [7]

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 system and Māori customary law is excluded from the New Zealand general legal system. [15] 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 indigenous 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. [16] In providing an independent Māori voice, the Māori Party's focus on affordable housing, [17] Māori recruitment into tertiary institutes [18] and a living wage for all workers [19] 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. [20]

Several key party policies have included:



Tariana Turia resigned from the Labour government in 2004, becoming a founding co-leader of the Maori Party. Tariana Turia NZgovt.jpg
Tariana Turia resigned from the Labour government in 2004, becoming a founding co-leader of the Māori Party.

The Māori Party's origins can be traced back to the 2004 foreshore and seabed controversy, a debate about whether the Māori have legitimate claim to ownership of part or all of New Zealand's foreshore and seabed, that arose during the Fifth Labour Government. 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. [23]

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. [23] The party was formally established on 7 July 2004. [24]

2005 election

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

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

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

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

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. [4] [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]

2020 election

The party announced John Tamihere as its candidate for the Tāmaki Makaurau electorate in March 2020. Tamihere had held the electorate from 2002 to 2005, but for the Labour Party. He had also run for Mayor of Auckland in 2019 without success. [43] Tamihere's mayoral campaign was more right-wing, and he said the Māori Party could happily work with the National Party. This contradicted Māori Party President Che Wilson, who had set out a clear preference to work with Labour and had said "if we ever do talk to National it will have to be a big deal for us to move that way again." [44]

Electoral results


Election# of candidates nominated (electorate/list)# of seats won# of party votes% of popular voteGovernment/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. [45] 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. [46] 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-LeaderAssumed OfficeLeft OfficeSeat
1 Dame Tariana Turia 7 July 2004September 2014 Te Tai Hauāuru
2 Marama Fox September 2014August 2018List
Male Co-LeaderAssumed OfficeLeft OfficeSeat
1 Sir Pita Sharples 7 July 200413 July 2013 Tāmaki Makaurau
2 Te Ururoa Flavell 13 July 2013July 2018 Waiariki

The party also has a president:

See also

Related Research Articles

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Further reading