Turia says goodbye, time for whanau
After 18 years in Parliament, Tariana Turia says it is time to return home.
In a valedictory speech littered with thank yous and kind words, the Maori Party co-leader said it was time to give back to those who had placed their trust in her.
"Now it is time . . . to rest a while with my darling [husband] George, my beautiful children, and my 52 mokopuna."
Turia spoke of "being brought up to believe that doing what was right was more important than doing what was popular".
She spoke of the hikoi prompted by Labour's foreshore and seabed legislation which led to the creation of the Maori Party.
"Ten years on, those days are still vividly written in my mind as a milestone moment in the story of our nation . . . It was the most evocative moment of my life - to feel the will of the people, the calling of our tupuna, to reclaim the essence of who we are, to stand up for what we knew was right. It was self-determination in action."
Turia also spoke of the "entrenched inequities" and "institutional racism" facing Maori and Pasifika people, which she said limited their potential and needed to be torn down.
She was satisfied the Maori Party had been good for their people, saying "I know we have made a difference in the lives of whanau whatever their circumstances, and in that respect I leave with a feeling of peace that we have always tried to do our best, to do whatever it takes to fly".
Turia paid tribute to her whanau and friends who had supported her during her political career, including former Labour colleagues like the late MP Parekura Horomia, her "beloved friend in arms".
"I miss him so much.
"I think of Tim Barnett, Annette King, and Darren Hughes. I always saw Darren as a future prime minister, he was a wonderful young man."
She also paid tribute to her Maori Party colleagues, including Dr Pita Sharples, who also gave his valedictory speech last night.
"Dr Pita Sharples, always Mr Nice Guy, never one to look for problems, always positively focused . . . "
Turia called former Maori Party MP and now Mana leader Hone Harawira "my great friend who has also been my great foe".
She spoke of the positive relationship she had had with Prime Minister John Key and deputy Bill English and also singled out National MPs Hekia Parata and Chris Finlayson.
"I cannot leave this House without recognising my friend Chris Finlayson. Chris is the greatest Treaty Settlement Minister we have ever had."