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Independent Maori seats still needed in Parliament

MEDIA RELEASE

For immediate release

29 September 2014

Independent Maori seats still needed in Parliament

“He’s got to be joking!” is the reaction of the president of the Maori Party, Rangimarie Naida Glavish to a call by a former Labour Minister of Maori Affairs, Dover Samuels, for debate by Maori on whether the Maori electorates are needed in a Parliament in which the total number of MPs who identify as Maori is now 26.

“The gains for Maori in the last six years achieved by our Maori Party Ministers and MPs demonstrate precisely and decisively why there is a continuing need for a strong independent voice for tangata whenua not only in Parliament, but at the table of government where the decisions are made and the budgets approved,” said Ms Glavish. “Without the influence of the Maori Party within the government, there would have been no Whanau Ora, no KickStart breakfast programme for school kids, no advances in health, education and housing standards for Maori.

“Not only has the Maori Party enhanced Maori interests in these and other ways, we have saved our very seats in Parliament through our relationship accords with the governing mainstream party. We have been able to persuade the National Party to change its previous policy of ending Maori representation to retaining the seats for as long as our people see them as necessary.

“As a former Maori Affairs Minister in a Labour Government, Dover should know from experience that there is a limit to what can be achieved by a Maori minority inside a predominantly non-Maori mainstream political party. He should know better than anyone that our people are still a long way from equality of both opportunities and outcomes as New Zealanders, and there are still many Treaty grievances awaiting finality and settlement. Until that far-off day arrives, the Maori Party will remain the only continuing effective political force advocating and achieving what’s best for our people, by being at the table of government,” said Ms Glavish.

ends

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