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The Tight Five was a nickname given to the five Māori MPs elected to the New Zealand Parliament in 1996 from the centrist/populist New Zealand First party.
New Zealand First had been founded in 1993 by Winston Peters, a former National Party Minister of Māori Affairs. In that year's election, Tau Henare, great-grandson of legendary Māori politician Taurekareka Henare, won the Northern Maori seat, one of Māori electorates, and became New Zealand First's second MP, along with Peters. This victory broke a long Labour hold on the Māori electorates. Soon after the election, Peters named Henare as deputy leader of New Zealand First.
The party was the biggest beneficiary of New Zealand's switch to mixed member proportional representation. In the 1996 elections, New Zealand First won 17 seats, including 6 electorate seats and swept all five Māori electorates. Henare was reelected in Te Tai Tokerau (the former Northern Maori). He was joined by Rana Waitai in Te Puku O Te Whenua, Tuku Morgan in Te Tai Hauāuru, Tuariki Delamere in Te Tai Rawhiti, and Tu Wyllie in Te Tai Tonga. When New Zealand First entered in a coalition government with the National Party, Peters served as deputy Prime Minister, and Henare and Delamere joined Peters in Cabinet. Henare served as Minister of Māori Affairs and Delamere as Minister of Immigration and Pacific Affairs.
The five Māori electorate MPs soon became known as the "Tight Five," named after the five rugby forwards who do most of the pushing in a scrum. Largely because of their huge electoral upset, they gained a very high profile in both New Zealand First and nationwide. However, they along with many other New Zealand First MPs attracted some controversy for their behavior. Morgan, in particular, faced criticism for reportedly misappropriating funds from a television network where he worked before entering Parliament.
In December 1997, National's Jim Bolger was ousted as Prime Minister in a party room coup by Jenny Shipley. Tensions rapidly developed between the coalition partners and within New Zealand First itself. In 1998, Henare staged an unsuccessful party room coup of his own against Peters. Soon afterwards, Shipley sacked Peters from Cabinet. Peters immediately pulled New Zealand First out of the coalition, but eight New Zealand First MPs left the party instead and continued to support the National Government as independent MPs. Among these MPs were all of the Tight Five except Wyllie.
Henare, Waitai and Morgan eventually founded a new party, Mauri Pacific, led by Henare. Delamere remained an independent prior to the 1999 election, when he joined Te Tawharau, a small Māori party allied with the Mana Māori Movement.
In the 1999 election, all of the Tight Five were defeated, with only Delamere managing to even finish second. Henare is the only one who returned to parliament, joining the National Party and serving as a list MP from 2005 to 2014.Waitai and Delamere have also rejoined the National Party since leaving Parliament. Waitai was elected to the Wanganui District Council in 2007. Morgan became Māori co-chair for the Hauraki-Waikato electorate in 2015. In July 2016, he was elected president of the Māori Party. In December 2017, he resigned after the 2017 general election.
In 2020, five Labour Māori MPs were awarded ministerial positions inside Cabinet, and journalist Joel Maxwell referred to them as "Tight Five Two" and as a "Labour Tight Five".
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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 the Fourth National Government, and the beginning of the Fifth Labour Government which would govern for nine years in turn, until its loss to the National Party in the 2008 general election. It was the first New Zealand election where both major parties had female leaders.
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Mauri Pacific was a short-lived political party in New Zealand. It was formed in 1998 by five former members of the New Zealand First party. It has often been described as a Māori party. Officially, Mauri Pacific was a multiculturalist party, welcoming anyone who supported racial and cultural harmony. Three of its five MPs were Māori, and two were Pākehā.
In New Zealand politics, Māori electorates, colloquially known as the Māori electorates, are a special category of electorate that until 1967 gave reserved positions to representatives of Māori in the New Zealand Parliament. Every area in New Zealand is covered by both a general and a Māori electorate; as of 2020, there are seven Māori electorates. Since 1967 any candidate of any ethnicity has been able to stand in a Maori electorate. Candidates now do not have to be Māori, or even on the Māori roll. Voters however who wish to vote in a Māori electorate have to register as a voter on the Māori roll and need to declare they are of Māori descent.
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Rana Donald Waitai is a former New Zealand politician. He was a member of parliament from 1996 to 1999.
Tutekawa "Tu" Wyllie is a former New Zealand politician and rugby union player. A first five-eighth, Wyllie represented Wellington at a provincial level, and played one match for the New Zealand national side, the All Blacks, in 1980. He was the New Zealand First Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tonga from 1996 to 1999.
Tuariki John Edward Delamere is a former New Zealand politician. He served as a member of the New Zealand Parliament from 1996 to 1999, and was a member of Cabinet for the duration of his term.
Tukoroirangi "Tuku" Morgan is a New Zealand Māori politician and former broadcaster.
Raymond Tau Henare is a former New Zealand Māori parliamentarian. In representing three different political parties in parliament—New Zealand First, Mauri Pacific and the National Party—Henare served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1993 to 1999 and from 2005 to 2014.
Māori politics is the politics of the Māori people, who were the original inhabitants of New Zealand and who are now the country's largest minority. Before the arrival of Pākehā (Europeans) in New Zealand, Māori society was based largely around tribal units, and chiefs provided political leadership. With the British settlers of the 19th century came a new British-style government. From the outset, Māori sought representation within this government, seeing it as a vital way to promote their people's rights and improve living standards. Modern Māori politics can be seen as a subset of New Zealand politics in general, but has a number of distinguishing features, including advocacy for indigenous rights and Māori sovereignty. Many Māori politicians are members of major, historically European-dominated political parties, but several Māori parties have been formed.
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Northern Maori was one of New Zealand's four original parliamentary Māori electorates established in 1868, along with Eastern Maori, Western Maori and Southern Maori. In 1996, with the introduction of MMP, the Maori electorates were updated, and Northern Maori was replaced with the Te Tai Tokerau electorate.
Rino Tirikatene is a New Zealand politician and a member of the House of Representatives, representing the Te Tai Tonga electorate since the 2011 election. He is a member of the Labour Party. He comes from a family with a strong political history.
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