Maori’s Pita Sharples returned to his Auckland campaign headquarters to celebrate with his supporters. He has successfully retained his seat in Parliament, representing the Maori Party. His supporters and family are ecstatic over his victory. Sharples has won re-election to continue his fight for Maori people rights in Parliament but some other Maori politicians are not as fortunate. This year fewer Maori politicians were elected to Parliament. In 2005 Maori members from different parties together combined 17% of the seats.
In 2008, they represented only 14%, down 3% of points. Among the 70 Maori seats in Parliament members are from different parties – 6 from the Labour Party’s, 5 in the National Party’s, only 5 out of the targeted 7 seats have been won by Maori Party. The election results show that the Labour and National Parties have similar Maori representation in Parliament. Although the Maori Party holds only 5 seats, they are still hopeful.
Pita Sharples: So, yeah, we are only a few but we could be the balance of power.
The Maori Party was established on July 7, 2004 by a group of former Labour Party members and people from academic circle. It is meant to fight against marginalisation of Maori people by mainstream political parties.
Pita Sharples: Because they belong to mainstream political parties, the Maori voice is not heard. They are not allowed to vote for things that we put up. We, the Maori people put things up on behalf of the Maori people, very obvious things.
Now that the National Party has won the election and one of its members, Georgina Te Heuheu, is seen as a potential candidate for the Maori Affairs Minister position. Te Heuheu says, there is a need for the Maori Party to exist to make the voices of the Maori people heard. She recognises the Maori Party’s contribution to the people but says the Party is not her choice.
Georgina Te Heuheu: Party is likely to lead the government in October or November this year. So, in other words, sure they will be, they may be input by others on Maori policy but generally we’ll be running the government when we win. So, no, I don’t think, I don’t think , there’ s any marginalisation of Maori.
New Zealand’s 2008 elections saw a shift in government with the Labour Party being defeated by the National Party after nine years in power. The Maori Party threw its support behind the National Party in exchange for adoption of various Maori policies. The new president, John Key, from the National Party has promised to maintain friendly relations with the Maori Party but has not pledged to place members of the Maori Party in his cabinet. John Key also said after the election that he will be speaking to the Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia in the following week.