Meka Whaitiri

Last updated

Meka Whaitiri

Meka Whaitiri crop.jpg
63rd Minister of Customs
In office
26 October 2017 30 August 2018
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Preceded by Tim Macindoe
Succeeded by Kris Faafoi
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti
Assumed office
29 June 2013
Preceded by Parekura Horomia
Personal details
Born (1965-01-11) 11 January 1965 (age 54)

Melissa Heni Mekameka Whaitiri (born 11 January 1965) is a politician of the Labour Party and a member of the New Zealand House of Representatives for the Maori electorate of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti. Having previously worked in senior advisory and management roles, she won the 2013 Ikaroa-Rāwhiti by-election, succeeding Labour's Parekura Horomia, and has gone on to hold the seat in the 2014 and 2017 general elections.

The New Zealand Labour Party, or simply Labour, is a centre-left political party in New Zealand. The party's platform programme describes its founding principle as democratic socialism, while observers describe Labour as social-democratic and pragmatic in practice. It is a participant of the international Progressive Alliance.

New Zealand House of Representatives Sole chamber of New Zealand Parliament

The New Zealand House of Representatives is a component of the New Zealand Parliament, along with the Sovereign. The House passes all laws, provides ministers to form a Cabinet, and supervises the work of the Government. It is also responsible for adopting the state's budgets and approving the state's accounts.


Ikaroa-Rāwhiti is a New Zealand parliamentary Māori electorate. It was formed for the 1999 election and held by Parekura Horomia of the Labour Party until his death in 2013. A by-election to replace him was held on 29 June 2013 and was won by Labour's Meka Whaitiri, who remains the incumbent after the 2014 election.


Early life

Whaitiri was born in Manutuke near Gisborne [1] in 1965, [2] and brought up in the Hastings suburb of Whakatu by a whānau of mostly freezing workers. She has affiliation to Rongowhakaata and Ngāti Kahungunu. [3] At Karamu High School, she was head girl. [1]

Manutuke is a settlement in the Gisborne District of New Zealand's North Island. It is located to the west of the city of Gisborne on State Highway 2, close to the mouth of the Waipaoa River.

Gisborne, New Zealand City in Gisborne Region, New Zealand

Gisborne is a city in northeastern New Zealand and the largest settlement in the Gisborne District. It has a population of 37,200. The district council has its headquarters in Whataupoko, in the central city.

Hastings, New Zealand City in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Hastings is a New Zealand city and is one of the two major urban areas in Hawke's Bay, on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The population of Hastings is 70,600, with 45,000 living in the contiguous city and Flaxmere, 13,950 in Havelock North, 2,210 in Clive, and the remainder in the peri-urban area around the city. Hastings is about 18 kilometres inland of the coastal city of Napier. These two neighbouring cities are often called "The Bay Cities" or "The Twin Cities". The combined population of the Napier-Hastings Urban Area is 134,500 people, which makes it the sixth-largest urban area in New Zealand, closely following Tauranga (141,600).

She first worked at a freezing works herself before obtaining a master's degree in education from Victoria University of Wellington. In both softball and netball, she competed to national level. [3] She was selected by the Silver Ferns as a non-travelling reserve player. [4] [5] Her first professional job was for Parekura Horomia, who made her wait eight hours before he saw her, but then hired her immediately for the Department of Labour. [6]

Victoria University of Wellington public university in New Zealand

Victoria University of Wellington is a university in Wellington, New Zealand. It was established in 1897 by Act of Parliament, and was a constituent college of the University of New Zealand.

Netball ball sport

Netball is a ball sport played by two teams of seven players. Its development, derived from early versions of basketball, began in England in the 1890s. By 1960, international playing rules had been standardised for the game, and the International Federation of Netball and Women's Basketball was formed. As of 2011, the INF comprises more than 60 national teams organized into five global regions.

New Zealand national netball team

The New Zealand national netball team, commonly known as the Silver Ferns, represent New Zealand in international netball. The team take their nickname from the Silver Tree Fern, which is an emblem for many New Zealand sports teams. The Silver Ferns were formed in 1938 as a representative New Zealand team to tour Australia. To date, they have been one of the most dominant national netball teams in the world, along with Australia, and have a winning record against most other netball nations. The Silver Ferns are currently ranked fourth in the INF World Rankings, behind Australia, England and Jamaica.

She was a negotiator for Rongowhakaata's treaty settlement. From 2007 to 2009, she was a senior adviser for the Minister of Māori Affairs Office, and thus advised Hon Parekura Horomia while he was the Minister. Since 2009, she has been the chief executive officer of Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi. [7]

Claims and settlements under the Treaty of Waitangi have been a significant feature of New Zealand race relations and politics since the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975. Successive governments have increasingly provided formal legal and political opportunity for Māori to seek redress for breaches by the Crown of the guarantees set out in the Treaty of Waitangi. While it has resulted in putting to rest a number of significant longstanding grievances, the process has been subject to criticisms from a number of angles, from those who believe that the redress is insufficient to compensate for Māori losses, to those who see no value in revisiting painful and contentious historical issues. The settlements are typically seen as part of a broader Māori Renaissance.

Iwi are the largest social units in Aotearoa Māori society. The Māori-language word iwi means "people" or "nation", and is often translated as "tribe", or "a confederation of tribes". The word is both singular and plural in Māori.

Whaitiri's mother, Mei Whaitiri (née Irihapiti Robin), was the model used for the Pania of the Reef statue in Napier in 1954. [8] Whaitiri has two teenage sons. [1] [3]

Napier, New Zealand Urban area in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Napier is a New Zealand city with a seaport, located in Hawke's Bay on the eastern coast of the North Island. The population of Napier is about 63,900 as of the June 2018. About 18 kilometres (11 mi) south of Napier is the inland city of Hastings. These two neighbouring cities are often called "The Bay Cities" or "The Twin Cities" of New Zealand. The total population of the Napier-Hastings Urban Area is 134,500 people, which makes it the sixth-largest urban area in New Zealand, closely followed by Dunedin (122,000), and trailing Tauranga (141,600).

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
2013 2014 50th Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Labour
2014 2017 51st Ikaroa-Rāwhiti 19 Labour
2017 present 52nd Ikaroa-Rāwhiti none Labour

Horomia's death on 29 April 2013 triggered a by-election which was held on 29 June of that year. [9] [10] Most political analysts predicted that Labour would hold Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, which since its inception for the 1999 election was held by Horomia, and who had a majority of 6,541 votes (29.1%) at the last election in 2011. [11]

2013 Ikaroa-Rāwhiti by-election New Zealand by-election

A by-election was held in the New Zealand electorate of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti on 29 June 2013. The seat was vacated by the death of incumbent member of parliament Parekura Horomia two months earlier, who had represented the electorate for the Labour Party since its inception for the 1999 election. The election was won by Labour's Meka Whaitiri.

1999 New Zealand general election

The 1999 New Zealand general election was held on 27 November 1999 to determine the composition of the 46th New Zealand Parliament. The governing National Party, led by Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, was defeated, being replaced by a coalition of Helen Clark's Labour Party and the smaller Alliance. This marked an end to nine years of National Party government, and the beginning of the Fifth Labour Government of New Zealand which would govern for 9 years, until its loss to the National Party in the 2008 general election.

2011 New Zealand general election election in New Zealand

The 2011 New Zealand general election on Saturday 26 November 2011 determined the membership of the 50th New Zealand Parliament.

She went on to win the by-election [12] with a majority of 1659 votes [13] and was sworn in on 30 July. [14]

Before the by-election, there was media speculation that Labour Leader David Shearer had been put on notice and a decisive win in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti was regarded as important for his survival. [15] Right-wing political blogger David Farrar called it a "good victory for Labour", and commented that Whaitiri "could be one of the better Labour MPs". [16]

Whaitiri won the 2014 election with 9,753 votes, over television presenter Te Hamua Nikora of the Mana Movement. [2]

With 12,274 votes helping her hold the seat in 2017, Whaitiri returned to Parliament and was appointed Minister of Customs following Labour's formation of a coalition government with New Zealand First and the Greens. [17] [18] She also serves as Associate Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Local Government and Crown/Māori Relations. [19] [20]

Alongside colleague, Willie Jackson, she is Co-Chair of the Labour Māori Caucus.[ citation needed ]

On 30 August 2018, Whaitiri had to “stand aside” from her ministerial portfolios as part of an investigation into an allegation that she assaulted a staff member in her ministerial office. Fellow Labour MP Kris Faafoi assumed the role of Minister of Customs while her associate ministerial portfolios were assumed by their lead ministers. [21] [22] [23]

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  1. 1 2 3 "Meka Whaitiri". New Zealand Labour Party . Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  2. 1 2 Laing, Doug (20 September 2014). "Meka Whaitiri wins Ikaroa-Rawhiti". Hawke's Bay Today . Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 "Labour selects Meka Whaitiri". The New Zealand Herald . 26 May 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  4. "Meka Whaitiri : Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Scoop . Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  5. "Waatea News Update". Waatea 603 AM. 2 March 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  6. Rutherford, Hamish (1 July 2013). "Successor's first job was for Horomia". The Press . p. A7. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  7. "Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election: Sprint nears end". Hawke's Bay Today . 28 June 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  8. "Labour's Pania of the Reef". Newshub. 27 April 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  9. "Labour MP Parekura Horomia dies". The New Zealand Herald . 29 April 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  10. Chapman, Kate (8 May 2013). "June by-election for Horomias-seat". . Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  11. Small, Vernon (27 May 2013). "Iwi CEO beats broadcaster as seat candidate". Waikato Times . Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  12. "Ikaroa-Rawhiti goes to the vote". . 29 June 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  13. "Majority drops slightly in final by-election result". Radio New Zealand . 10 July 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  14. "Te Manu Korihi: New Ikaroa-Rawhiti sworn in". Radio New Zealand . 30 July 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  15. Gower, Patrick (27 June 2013). "Shearer put on notice by Labour MPs". TV3 News. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  16. Farrar, David (30 June 2013). "Ikaroa-Rawhiti byelection: a good victory for Labour". National Business Review . Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  17. "Who's in? Who's out?". Radio NZ. 20 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  18. "Ministerial List". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet . Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  19. "Hon Meka Whaitiri". New Zealand Labour Party. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  20. "Hon Mek Whaitiri". New Zealand Parliament . Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  21. "Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri stands down from all ministerial portfolios over alleged assault on staff member". 1 News. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  22. Hurley, Emma; Lynch, Jenna (30 August 2018). "PM Jacinda Ardern accepts Govt Minister Meka Whaitiri's offer to stand aside". Newshub . Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  23. "Labour MP stands down amid assault allegation". Radio New Zealand. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Parekura Horomia
Member of Parliament for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti
Political offices
Preceded by
Tim Macindoe
Minister of Customs
Succeeded by
Kris Faafoi