Māori Party

Māori Party
Te Paati Māori
Leader Marama Fox
Te Ururoa Flavell
President Tukoroirangi Morgan
Founded 7 July 2004 (2004-07-07)
Split from New Zealand Labour Party
Ideology Indigenous rights
International affiliation Not affiliated
Colors Black, red and white.
MPs in the House of Representatives
2 / 121

The Māori Party is an indigenous rights-based political party in New Zealand, formed on 7 July 2004. Tariana Turia founded the party after resigning from the Labour Party, where she had been a Cabinet Minister in the Fifth Labour Government. She and Pita Sharples, a high-profile academic, became co-leaders. After the 2008 election, the party supported a National Party-led government, and Turia and Sharples became ministers outside cabinet. A similar arrangement continued after the 2011 and 2014 elections. Sharples resigned as male co-leader in 2013 and was replaced by Te Ururoa Flavell, who become Minister for Maori Development (outside cabinet) following the 2014 election.


The foreshore and seabed controversy, a debate about whether Māori have legitimate claim to ownership of part or all of New Zealand's foreshore and seabed, became the catalyst for setting up the Māori Party.

The Māori Party believes:

  • Māori owned the foreshore and seabed before British colonisation;
  • The Treaty of Waitangi made no specific mention of foreshore or seabed;
  • No-one has subsequently purchased or otherwise acquired the foreshore or the seabed; and
  • Māori should therefore still own the seabed and the foreshore today.

A court judgement stated that some Māori appeared to have the right to seek formal ownership of a specific portion of seabed in the Marlborough Sounds. This prospect alarmed many sectors of New Zealand society, however, and the Labour Party foreshadowed legislation in favour of state ownership instead. This angered many Māori, including many of Labour's Māori MPs. Two MPs representing Māori electorates, Tariana Turia and Nanaia Mahuta, announced an intent to vote against the legislation.

Turia, a junior minister, once informed that voting against the government would appear "incompatible" with holding ministerial rank, announced on 30 April 2004 her intention to resign from the Labour Party. Her resignation took effect on 17 May, and she left parliament until she won a by-election in her Te Tai Hauauru seat two months later.

After leaving the Labour Party, Turia, later joined by Sharples, began organizing a new political party. They and their supporters agreed that the new organization would simply use the name of "the Māori Party". They chose a logo of black and red — traditional Māori colours — incorporating a koru design, also traditional.

The leaders of the Māori Party indicated that they wished to unite "all Māori" into a single political movement.


The Party supports:


2005 election

In the 2005 election, the party won four out of seven Māori seats and 2.12% of the party vote. This entitled the Māori Party to three list seats, so the fourth electorate seat became an overhang seat. On election night, the party vote share was under 2% and the Māori Party would have got two overhang seats; but when the overhang was reduced to one National lost a list seat that they appeared to have won on election night. Tariana Turia held Te Tai Hauauru; Pita Sharples won the Tamaki Makaurau electorate; Hone Harawira, son of Titewhai Harawira, won Te Tai Tokerau; and Te Ururoa Flavell won Waiariki.

In the post-election period the Māori Party convened a series of hui to decide whether to support Labour or National, though some party leaders have indicated they prefer to deal with Labour. That day, however, Turia and Prime Minister Helen Clark met privately and ruled out a formal coalition. Coupled with the support of the Greens and Progressives, Māori Party support would have given Clark just enough support to govern without the support of other parties. However, in the end, no deal was done and the Māori Party stayed in Opposition, citing that they were not prepared to compromise their positions.[3]

Gerry Brownlee, Deputy Leader of the National Party claimed after the election that Labour and National each could rely on "57 seats" out of the 62 required in the 2005 election to govern. This implied that National had received support from United Future [3], Act [2] and the Māori Party [4] in addition to National's own 49 seats.[4] Brash himself later supported this statement and claimed he had witnesses to it.[5] This came after the National Party tried to woo the Māori Party in attempts to both see if a coalition arrangement was feasible and to counter any attempts which may have been made by Helen Clark.[6] Tariana Turia denied this claim.

Rātana pā

On 24 January 2006 the Māori Party's four MPs were jointly welcomed to the Rātana pā with the Leader of the Opposition and leader of the National Party, Don Brash, together with his delegation of eight MPs. They had been intended to be welcomed on half an hour apart but agreed to be welcomed and sit together. Turia disputed claims that this was pre-arranged, saying: "We're here for a birthday. We're not here for politics."[7]

However critics said this would have reminded onlookers of how the Māori Party and National were said to be in coalition or confidence and supply talks. This may also have served to reinforce the Labour Party's election campaign statement that a 'vote for the Māori Party is a vote for National'. One Ratana kaumatua (elder) said this was deliberate and deserved after the talks.[8]

2008 election

In the 2008 general election the Māori Party retained all four of the seats it won in 2005, and won an additional seat, after Rahui Katene won Te Tai Tonga from Labour. Two seats were overhang seats.

The Māori Party's share of the party vote remained low, at 2.39%.[9] The Labour Party won the party vote by a large majority in every Māori electorate, meaning that the typical Māori voter had split their vote, voting for a Māori Party candidate with their electorate vote and the Labour Party with their party vote.[10]

The National Party won the most seats overall and formed a minority government with the support of the Māori Party, ACT New Zealand and United Future. Sharples was given the Minister of Māori Affairs portfolio and became an Associate Minister of Corrections and Associate Minister of Education. Turia became Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Associate Minister of Health and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment.[11]

2011 election

In the 2011 general election the Māori Party was reduced from five seats to three, as the party vote split between the Māori Party and former Māori Party MP Hone Harawira's Mana Party. Harawira left the Māori Party in April 2011, having been suspended in February 2011. He was critical of the alliance with the National Party.

The Māori Party won three electorate seats. With 1.43% of the party vote, the party was entitled to two seats, resulting in an overhang of one seat. The three MPs were Pita Sharples in Tāmaki Makaurau, Tariana Turia in Te Tai Hauāuru and Te Ururoa Flavell in Waiāriki. Rahui Katene lost the Te Tai Tonga seat to Labour's Rino Tirikatene, and Hone Harawira won the Te Tai Tokerau seat for the Mana Party.

The National Party again formed a minority government with the support of the Māori Party, ACT New Zealand and United Future. Pita Sharples again became Minister of Māori Affairs, and Sharples and Turia were ministers outside cabinet.

With the retirement of Pita Sharples in 2014, Te Ururoa Flavell became the new male co-leader of the party. Tariana Turia is also retiring in 2014.

2014 election

Final results from the 2014 general election gave the Māori Party two seats in Parliament. Te Ururoa Flavell won the Waiāriki electorate seat, and the party was entitled to one further list seat (to be occupied by the next person on the party list, Marama Fox) as they received 1.3% of the party vote.

Electoral results (2005–2014)

Election # of candidates nominated (electorate/list) # of seats won # of party votes % of popular vote
42 / 51
4 / 121
7 / 19
5 / 122
11 / 17
3 / 121
24 / 24
2 / 121


In December 2012, Tariana Turia announced she would resign as party co-leader before the 2014 election. Te Ururoa Flavell announced his interest in a leadership role, but as the Māori Party constitution requires male and female co-leaders, he could not take Turia's place.[12] Shortly after this, in July 2013, Sharples resigned as co-leader, saying he would quit politics altogether come the next general election in 2014. He went on to say that "Our supporters deserve a unified party" which indicated that the leadership tension influenced his decision to resign as party co-leader.[13] Flavell replaced him as the party's male co-leader. In the 2014 General Election, Marama Fox became the party's first List MP, and – as the party's only female Member of Parliament – under the party rules automatically became female co-leader.

See also


  1. "Election Policy 2008". Maori Party. Retrieved 2011-10-05. Our commitment to you is that we will uphold indigenous values, to ensure our country maintains its natural beauty for all who call this land home.
  2. "Election Policy 2008". Māori Party. Retrieved 2011-10-05. Primary and secondary schools will be required to teach heritage studies, which will include a history of the Pacific, in line with the aspirations of Pacific people.
  3. "Maori Party stays in opposition". The New Zealand Herald. 18 October 2005.
  4. Crewdson, Patrick (16 October 2005). "Coalition talks in chaos as Nats accuse Clark of failure". The New Zealand Herald.
  5. Young, Audrey (19 October 2005). "Brash: I had the 57 votes". The New Zealand Herald.
  6. Tony Gee, Audrey Young and Ruth Berry (7 October 2005). "National courts the Maori Party". The New Zealand Herald.
  7. Stuff
  8. Stokes, Jon (25 January 2006). "Parties forced to share stage at Ratana marae". The New Zealand Herald.
  9. Chief Electoral Office: Official Count results: Overall status.
  10. See Māori electorate results at Chief Electoral Office: Official Count results: Electorate details.
  11. "Key's Government". The New Zealand Herald. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  12. "Ratana unveiling for Turia's successor?". DominionPost. 13 January 2013
  13. "Pita Sharples stands down, Flavell likely successor". One News. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
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