ZB

John Tamihere elected Te Pāti Māori president

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Jun 2022, 12:37pm
Newly-elected president of Te Pāti Māori John Tamihere. Photo / Alex Burton
Newly-elected president of Te Pāti Māori John Tamihere. Photo / Alex Burton

John Tamihere elected Te Pāti Māori president

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Jun 2022, 12:37pm

Former Te Pāti Māori co-leader John Tamihere has been elected party president, replacing Che Wilson.

Tamihere, who ran unsuccessfully for the party in Tāmaki Makaurau at the 2020 election, was voted in as the sole candidate after Wilson stepped down to focus on whānau and business.

Wilson took over as president in 2018 shortly after the disastrous 2017 election campaign when co-leaders Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell left Parliament as Labour swept to victory in each of the seven Māori electorates.

The rejection of the party was seen in part as punishment from voters for having sided with National over three terms.

Wilson cautioned shortly after becoming president against the party moving back to National.

Tamihere, who unsuccessfully ran for Auckland mayor in the 2019 election, was a Labour MP from 1999 to 2005 and he served as a Cabinet minister from 2002 to 2004.

Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Throughout the pandemic Tamihere, as chief executive of service provider Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust, has been a vocal critic of the Government's response for Māori.

Tamihere said Wilson had come in at a time of "total disarray following their defeat in the 2017 election".

"Che Wilson, Kaapua Smith, Elijah Pue and Matariki Cribb-Fox - later replaced by Rose Waetford, stood up to not only commit to raising the pāti from the ashes but to build an enduring consistent Māori political force for the good of Aotearoa."

Tamihere said he was focused and ready for the challenge ahead.

"Our people are awakening to their rights and we are seeing more Māori movement on the streets.

"We are here to show them they now have the voting alternative they always wanted when it comes to their voices, their needs and their rights, and that is Te Pāti Māori."

Newly-elected president of Te Pāti Māori John Tamihere. Photo / Alex Burton

Newly-elected president of Te Pāti Māori John Tamihere. Photo / Alex Burton

Wilson said he stepped down from the presidency to "concentrate on investing more time and energy with my whānau and business".

"I am pleased to leave the pāti with a president that was elected as the sole candidate and can help advance and lift our pāti to the next level, ready for 2023.

"I continue to tautoko our pāti and our kaupapa as the only unapologetic expression of mana motuhake in the system and that truly expresses the promise of Te Tiriti o Waitangi."

Recent polls had shown Te Pāti Māori could hold the balance of power come 2023.

Tamihere previously told the Herald siding with Labour-Greens would seem the more likely fit, and although National had "a lot of work to do" he did not rule them out.

They would also consider sitting on the cross-benches, offering conditional support to any government while maintaining independence.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said Wilson had helped "anchor Te Pāti Māori and he leaves big boots to fill".

"But we can think of no one better to strap them on.

"John Tamihere is a seasoned politician and one of our strongest advocates for Māori across multiple areas.

"We are heading towards next year's election with more mana and strength than ever."