Prominent Women’s Advocate To Enter Politics
14 February 2002
Christian Heritage Party Leader Graham Capill has today confirmed that high profile Women’s Refuge Chief Executive, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, would be seeking election to the New Zealand Parliament this year as a Christian Heritage Candidate.
“Mrs Raukawa-Tait has been consistently out-spoken for strengthening the family unit. She has been a courageous voice against domestic violence and child abuse. It is therefore a privilege to have a woman of her calibre join our team,” Mr Capill said.
Mr Capill announced that in view of her personal mana and high national profile, he has appointed Mrs Raukawa-Tait to the position of Deputy Party Leader. She would also be the spokesperson for Social Services and Maori Affairs.
“Mrs Raukawa-Tait will stand in the Wairarapa Electorate which we believe the CHP can win. The incumbent holds the seat by 3000 votes, which was won on the back of a swing to Labour. Merepeka has been a frequent visitor and speaker in the Wairarapa district. She has taken a keen interest in the region and obviously in the child abuse cases that have occurred there over the past few years. We are sure voters will want to hear her voice in Parliament addressing such issues,” Mr Capill said.
Mrs Raukawa-Tait admitted that if the CHP had not wanted her as a candidate in this year’s General Election, she would not be standing for any other party.
“I want to make a difference. I do not want to play at politics or get bogged down in Party administration. Families need help and I want to ensure that they get that.,” she said
"Although I never shared this with CHP before today, my heart and mind was set on CHP well before Christmas. My conscience told me that had no option but to stand for what I believe in.”
“CHP has consistently emphasised the importance of the family unit to a well adjusted society. I wholeheartedly support that vision. The family is our most valued and precious possession for the country. Therefore, it wasn't really a difficult decision to decide which political party to join. I am also pleased that CHP have a full range of policies that cover the other important areas of education, health, the economy, employment, justice and the environment. I believe people will be taking a good, hard look at CHP in the months ahead.”
Mrs Raukawa-Tait confirmed that she had been approached by other political parties. She thanked them and the various Electorate Chairpersons from around the country who had contacted her asking her to consider standing as their candidate.
"I would like to think that once in Parliament I will have the opportunity to work with Members from all parties to bring about positive changes for New Zealand" she said.
Merepeka Raukawa-Tait Biographical details
Merepeka was born in Feilding. She was educated at St. Josephs Convent School and Feilding Agricultural High School. Her first job was as the Office Junior at the local freezing works, Thos. Borthwick & Sons Ltd. Merepeka later transferred to their Head Office in Wellington and in 1970 left New Zealand to spend the next nine years living and working in Zurich, Switzerland. Her MBA is in International Management.
In 1980 Merepeka moved to the Bay of Plenty, her mother’s Te Arawa tribal area. She was elected Trustee and Director of a number of farming and forestry Trusts and Incorporations. She has owned a number of businesses and held Ministerial Appointments. Merepeka has worked for the State Services Commission, Department of Internal Affairs and the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua. She served as a Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor in the early 1990s.
Merepeka is married to Theo Netahio Tait. Although retired, Theo spends part of his week with inmates at Rimutaka Prison and the rest playing golf.
For the past three years Merepeka has held the position of Chief Executive of Women’s Refuge. She has become well known for her brave and powerful stand against family violence. She has tirelessly campaigned against domestic violence, raising community awareness with her courage and determination to keep speaking out.
In December 2000 the North and South Magazine named Merepeka “New Zealander of the Year” and in May 2001 Toastmasters International awarded Merepeka their prestigious “Communicator and Leadership Award”.