It might seem strange but a strong and passionate advocate for Maori is about to go to Parliament as a National MP.
Yes my good friend Claudette Hauiti is National's latest addition. Claudette and I worked together for many years on radio and television. And currently she works for me on Waatea as a talkback host. Between 2004 and 2010 we produced our best work on TVNZ with the current affairs show Eye to Eye.
I was the presenter and Claudette was my executive producer. Our show was about a Maori perspective on current affairs and for six years we brought politicians and movers and groovers in and debated the issues of the week.
Claudette always wanted me to make people accountable for their actions and we developed a "take no prisoners approach" with our guests and encouraged them to express their views. This sometimes led to some of the most robust debates ever seen on TV and we even had to stop taping the show on the odd occasion because our guests got so out of control.
Claudette as EP received criticism for this. Our traditionalists said Maori shouldn't be running these types of shows where people were interrupting and yelling at each other and some said the show was demeaning to Maori. But Claudette handled the criticism brilliantly. She pointed out the entertainment value and the big ratings we achieved particularly in the early years.
Government list MP Aaron Gilmore is proving to be John Key's biggest nightmare at the moment.
Key has worked hard at getting rid of the born-to-rule attitude which is how National MPs were perceived for many years.
However, Gilmore's arrogant behaviour when he threatened a waiter's job then dropped the prime minister's name and asked the waiter: "Do you know who I am" is a setback to the Key strategy of dispelling the stereotype views that the public have of his party.
On our talkback show we fielded call after call from furious people demanding Gilmore's resignation.
Kiwis don't like "big noters" or bullies and that's exactly how Gilmore came across.
By the time you read this column, I will have been down on the East Coast for a couple of days.
I will have spoken on the Hauiti Marae in Tolaga Bay about Parekura Horomia and I will have laughed, cried and listened to a ton of other people's stories about a man who was not only big in stature but big in mana.
Parekura faced criticism as Maori affairs minister because he was overweight, suffered diabetes and obviously enjoyed a good kai.
But he never let that sort of criticism stop him from doing what he could for his people.
Tomorrow there will be an outpouring of emotion, probably not seen since the Maori Queen died.
It's not often we are able to activate our Maori community but last Saturday proved to be an exception, a crowd of 4000-plus attended the National Urban Maori Authorities - NUMA's first Whanau Ora celebration day at Nga Whare Waatea Marae in Mangere.
NUMA is a collective of Urban Maori Authorities around the country and the two Auckland ones are the Manukau Urban Maori Authority or MUMA and the Waipareira Trust in West Auckland. We are the biggest providers of Whanau Ora programmes in the country and have more than 1200 families.
We showcased all of our whanau ora services to our community, and our managers were on hand to provide advice to whanau seeking new and better ways of coping with the demands that come with low family incomes.
Whanau were able to find out more about Whanau Ora as well as our youth programmes, our kaumatua support and our Maori trade training programme that we run with Te Wananga o Aotearoa.
There was also big interest shown in our radio station Waatea, our Waatea Funeral Service and the Maori Anglican Church. The Whanau Ora diploma that Waipareira is offering also attracted huge interest.
Tomorrow is a big day for our Urban Maori Authorities. We are having a Whanau Ora celebration at our marae, Nga Whare Waatea Marae in Mangere.
John Tamihere and I have decided it's time to celebrate an initiative that is positively changing lives.
We're sick of Winston Peters rubbishing something that we know has positive effects in terms of our whanau today.
My organisation, the Manukau Urban Maori Authority, and JT's organisation, the Waipareira Trust, look after more than 1200 families. Whanau Ora has given us the opportunity to sit alongside families who have lost direction, become welfare dependant and are just not operating properly as a whanau.
We put what is called a ''navigator'' with the family who is really a ''manager'', who helps the family if there is abuse within the whanau, budgeting problems, ie, the rent not being paid, the kids not being fed and basically gets the family heading back in the right direction.
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