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Pita Sharples ADDRESS TO Maori Party AGM

ADDRESS TO Maori Party AGM; 28 October 2006


Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader, Maori Party

I am here today to celebrate.

To celebrate the Maori Party, our beginnings, our campaign for seats, our introduction to Parliament, and our year.

I have so much to be happy about, to be humble about, to be inspired about. If this rate of achievement is to be maintained, our party will truly be a force for the good of our country’s nationhood, our country’s health, our country’s Genuine Progress Index; our GPI.

I think first of all to our disgust at the Government’s audacity to legislate the Foreshore and Seabed Bill – to steal our due process; and the raupatu – the theft of the foreshore and seabed – right under the eyes of the world in this modern millennium. Today’s time – raupatu continuing.

I am reminded of Tariana Turia’s stand against her own Government, and her so-called Maori colleagues, her stand for us, for the people. Tariana the Rock.

I think then of our Hikoi upon Parliament; of my own tribal leaders of Ngati Kahungunu – Ngahiwi Tomoana, Mereana Pitman, Moana Jackson, and so many others, for committing to march upon Parliament pre Christmas 2003, against the Government’s theft of our rights to due process.

And along came Hone, his whanau, and his team extending the Hikoi to the Far North, to become a National event. Meanwhile Te Ururoa Flavell and a very active Waiariki stirred te puku-o-te-motu into action.

Then the great day – the realisation of some fifty thousand people – who supported the hikoi. The Marae whanau along route, the many suppliers of food, Michael Jones came with two cooked pigs, taro, the organisers, the Maori Wardens, the police, the Pacific Island supporters, the locals who joined in at their respective town enroute and the 35,000 who arrived in Wellington to make history.

I think of these things and I am filled with warmth, happiness and gratitude. E kore au e ngaro, te kakano i ruia mai i Rangiatea.

Then I think of the year of building our party. Of all our committees, our branches, our rohe. Our ups; our downs – our many roles – appointments, resignations. Maori community leaders, families, rangatahi, marae, committees, sports groups, hip-hop teams, and a whole host of people determined that we should succeed in building a party, to win an election, to make history again, to create an authentic voice for Maori in Parliament. That’s what I am grateful for.

Then followed our campaign for seats – visiting towns and marae throughout the country. For myself – the battle for Tamaki Makaurau – so many workers. Flagbearers, sub-committees, chairpersons, entertainers, organisers, sponsors, and of course the ‘beat the feet’ teams who did the door knocking. My A team of koroua.

Upon my election on that night in September I felt the true meaning of humility. To be chosen by my party team in the first place, to be the recipient of so much tautoko and trust, and real, real efforts. I knew then, just how much responsibility was being placed in my care.

That campaign effort by my own team in Auckland City – by our National Support Group – Gaylene ma, and by my home tribe and hapu – will live with me forever.

Then came the introduction into Parliament for us three to take our place alongside Tariana. The induction sessions – the meetings of other parliamentarians, the learning-the-ropes with parliamentary staff, and the etiquette and the culture of Parliament.

Then came the choosing of our staff. And how wise we have been. Mehemea e kore e pai ki muri, e kore e pai ki mua.

How many proverbs do we have to describe our team work? Ma whero, ma pango, ka oti te mahi.

Our party, your party, has been truly blessed by the permanent staff we have selected to run the engine room. Our Parliamentary staff, our Out of Parliamentary Staff (also known as OOPS); all locking in together to arm us with research, information, strategy, advice, unflagging service, and personal support – and again I am humbled by their efforts. Making us feel humbled.

And then, we come to the most important part of all.

21,502 Maori Party Members. Take a Bow all of you!

Without you, we wouldn’t have a party. We are the Maori Party and wherever we four MPs go, we know there is always a great big team to walk alongside us, to hand out electoral enrolment forms, to take phone numbers, to follow-up.

Our visits around the rohe have been an utter joy. The dedicated efforts of our party membership have paved the way to truly engaging in dialogue about the things that matter.

You have driven us miles and back, you have fed us, given us laughs galore, reminded us what we said we’d do, and constantly kept us focused on the aspirations and desires of our people.

Koutou ma, you are the Secret of our Success.

And I want to particularly acknowledge the hard working crew of Te Tai Tonga – you who cover an electorate which encompasses the boundaries of 21 General Electorates.

Your electorate covers 220,509 square kilometres. It encompasses 22, 050, 900 hectares. So if you’re feeling a bit tired now, you’re entitled to.

And yet, with all that ground to cover, when the last Marae Digipoll survey came out last month, the majority of voters polled in Tai Tonga (48%) voted for the Maori Party.

The Marae Digipoll of 1004 Maori voters was a fantastic first anniversary present to us all. The Poll confirmed that if an election was held today, 52.6% of those on the Maori roll would vote Maori Party – compared to 36% Labour.

Electorate by electorate our MPs were honoured. 69.3% in Tai Tokerau would vote for Hone; 81.5% in Tamaki for me; 76.6% in Te Tai Hauauru for Tariana; and 75.3% in Waiariki for Te Ururoa.

These are fantastic results.

And we also celebrated that as well as the wonderful results in Tai Tonga, 37.6% of voters in Tainui and 39.1% in Ikaroa Rawhiti would vote for the Maori Party – even though the sitting MPs in those electorates are Government Ministers.

An idea – how a bill turns into a ture – they have been the highlights in going back.

There have been so many highlights over this last year, that we need to share – and I know this time together will be a precious opportunity to re-live and relish the rapture of this year.

I am, however, under strict instructions from Te Weepu – our fearsome whip – that our contributions must be brief, must be succinct and not to Talk All Day!

He also told us we are not allowed to break the caucus confidentiality code, by telling the stories of the boy from Ngongotaha who only packed two right shoes in his suitcase and had to endure the torments of his team for a week in Parliament.

He also told us that we weren’t allowed to say how he and Te Nota like to tally up the scores in the great speech-making stakes.

He also instructed us not to talk about the Te Heteri special on Maori TV, when he cried to the camera, that nobody ever took any notice of the MP for Waiariki.

And we swore (well we would have but we get fined for swearing) that we wouldn’t tell tales about Hone getting up in the House to deliver a Third Reading Speech, before the Minister even rose.

And we promised that we wouldn’t tell the members how our respected Party Whip stood to ask question 7 while everyone else was asking question 6.

And we promised him we wouldn’t tell about the time that Tari fell asleep in the House; or the day that Hone wore his tino rangatiratanga tie over top of his Hawaian shirt.

You can tell we’re a highly disciplined lot who do everything that Te Weepu tells us not to do. But enough……

We are truly blessed to be entrusted with your support.

This Day is our day to celebrate. Let’s Party!


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