Independent Māori voice now lost from Parliament, says Maori Party candidate Howie Tamati

GRANT MATTHEW

Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Howie Tamati.

Māori Party candidate Howie Tamati said he is "deeply disappointed' there would be no independent Māori voice in Parliament during the next term.

The Te Tai Hauāruru candidate came up short by 1135 votes in his bid to unseat Labour Party incumbent MP Adrian Rurawhe​.

Rurawhe received 8038 votes on election night, to Tamati's 6903.

Maori Party candidate Howie Tamati,with supporter Jim Niwa on election night at  Mururaupatu Marae , Bell Block
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Maori Party candidate Howie Tamati,with supporter Jim Niwa on election night at Mururaupatu Marae , Bell Block

The Labour Party grabbed 58.1 per cent of the party vote compared to the Maori party's 14.9 per cent.

READ MORE:
* The Māori Party is out: Labour wins all Māori electorates
Howie Tamati has strong chance to win Te Tai Hauāuru seat, polls show
Howie Tamati going the extra mile to get elected to Parliament
A first time Māori Party MP may end up being kingmaker and a minister
* Long a Māori Party stronghold, Te Tai Hauāuru is now in Labour hands  
* Mental health and housing among hot topics for Te Tai Hauāuru Māori electorate 

The outcome reflected in the Māori Party's overall vote nationally with all seven Māori electorates won by Labour, including Waiariki, held by party leader and MP, Te Ururoa Flavell.

Howie Tamati watches the results come through at his election party.
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Howie Tamati watches the results come through at his election party.

Before the election Tamati was being touted as a possible kingmaker in a new Government.

He said he had given no thought to the future of the Māori Party, which now has no representation in Parliament.

"The results showed our people have gone back to Labour and it is deeply disappointing that all Maori seats are in Labour hands," he said.

Howie Tamati on the campaign trail Te Kohanga Reo Waitara.
L-R Hinewai Toa (4), Tomasi Dawai (1), Howie Tamati and ...
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Howie Tamati on the campaign trail Te Kohanga Reo Waitara. L-R Hinewai Toa (4), Tomasi Dawai (1), Howie Tamati and Kingston Wallace (4)

Unless Labour can form a coalition government, Māori would be in opposition for another three years, he said.

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"The Māori Labour MPs have no opportunity to do anything if they are in opposition.

"But if that's what our people wanted then that's what they got."

Māori Party MPs would have been able to continue working with a National Government if they had been elected, he said.

"The Māori Party had sent a strong message it was committed to having an independent voice in Parliament.

"If no one is advocating for Māori, then who will?"

Tamati said Winston Peters would have a fight on his hands from many Māori if he was able to follow through with his pre-election promises to abolish Maori electorates and remove the Treaty of Waitangi references from resource consents.

"We will see what Winston's bottom lines are and if he still wanted to push through his policies on the Treaty and Maori electorates, I think you will see some very unhappy people.

"But that's a lesson they will learn."

Tamati said he would return to his role as Sport Taranaki chief executive after three months' leave.

He had enjoyed the campaign, he said.

Māori were "politically savvy" group but the participation did not always translate to votes on election day, he said.

It's been a fantastic campaign. My wife and I decided we would enjoy ourselves.

"We just went around and got into the debates.

"I learnt a lot and it reinvigorated me, and got me out of my comfort zone.

"I began to appreciate the little things more."

Tamati spent election night with supporters at Mururaupatu​ Marae, Bell Block, near New Plymouth, watching results come in.

The mood was buoyant during the night with singing and music but reality began to kick in around late evening with 40 per cent of votes counted.

"I know I have done my best and my team have done their best to win," he said.

Tamati said he had never been in an election race before and it was all new to him.

"I can't tackle anyone, I can't run past anyone, I can't score a try, I've just got to sit back and let the spectators make the decision," he said.

The former Kiwi rugby league representative, and NZ Rugby League president, with Ngati Mutunga, Te Atiawa, and Ngai Tahu iwi affiliation was hoping to win the seat back from Labour after 2014.

Māori Party leader Dame Tariana Turia had held Te Tai Hāuauru from 2004 until she retired in 2014, and had held the seat for Labour between 1996-2004.

The large electorate included iwi from Taranaki, Whanganui, Horowhenua, Manawatu, the Kapiti Coast and Porirua, along with Ngati Raukawa and Ngati Maniapoto.

Tamati polled ahead of Rurawhe, of Ngati Apa, who was party spokesman on Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, in the lead up to the election. 

Tamati had spoken on the campaign that many party members had been awoken after they had "gone to sleep" since Dame Tariana had held the seat.

"We don't have to do what National says, we don't have to do what Labour says, we do what we think is right for our people, " he said.

He covered more than 10,000 kilometres campaigning in the vast electorate, which extended along the west coast of the North Island from Kawhia to Porirua.

During the campaign he had called on supporters to vote for the candidate they wanted in parliament, and for the Māori Party.

He had entered the election race because he could make a difference, he said.

During the campaign he highlighted improving mental health services for Maori, environmental issues such as iron sand mining, and the Waitara Lands Bill.

He supported a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the state abuse of the nation's children and imprisonment rate of Māori.

 - Taranaki Daily News

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