Beehive Chat: Serving the needs of large Maori electorates – Hon Tariana Turia, MP for Te Tai Hauauru

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Next week (February 7) Parliament resumes. The 31 weeks of sitting time that comprise the parliamentary calendar, become a key focus for the media, political commentators, lobbyists and of course politicians.

But for electorate MPs, many of us have been back at work weeks ago, serving the needs of our people. There is nothing more important to me than visiting whanau, who call on me for support for everything from birth to death, and all of lifes challenges inbetween.

Although I have an electorate office in Whanganui, a great chunk of my time is spent travelling throughout the rohe.

Te Tai Hau?uru extends from Kawhia in the north to Porirua and Grenada North in the Wellington region. There are some 17 iwi including the iwi of Taranaki, Whanganui, Horowhenua, Manawatu, the Kapiti Coast and Porirua, Ngati Raukawa and Ngati Maniapoto.

All up, if I was to do a log reading of travel from one end of the electorate to another Id reach 35,825 km. Somewhat incredibly, this one electorate encompasses a total of nine general electorates within or partly within Te Tai Hauauru boundaries. But wait, theres more.

Te Tai Hauauru is the second largest Maori electorate the largest at 161, 443 sq km, Te Tai Tonga, plays host to twenty general electorates within its boundaries. Just for comparison sake, this makes it roughly 7000 times larger than the Epsom electorate!

But theres another anomaly other than size and that is that the law prevents any general electorate from spanning the Cook Strait but not the Maori electorates. Te Tai Tonga therefore comprises all of the South Island, Stewart Island/Rakiura, the Chatham Islands, and also extends into the North Island to include Wellington and parts of the Hutt Valley as far north as Avalon and Tawa.

We believe the special nature of the seven Maori electorates, serving the equivalent of 63 general electorates, should be a key priority in resourcing decisions. This is not just an issue of size. The scope of each Maori electorate the diverse nature of the populations included within each is stratified by township, by iwi, by rural and urban communities as well as by significant geographical boundaries.

And expectations of tangata whenua are rightfully high.

Their expectations were mirrored in a 2007 review (the Goulter Report) which noted the principle to Recognise the fundamental importance of information to a modern Parliament and of communication between MPs and their constituencies and communities.

John Goulter concluded that there was inequality between the support Parliament offers the very large electorates and that given to the smaller ones and consequently more support should be given to all seven Maori electorates.

His report described logistical problems with getting around and meeting the people especially where distant locations provide transport problems. It also reported that the protocols linked to customs and practices concerning whnau, marae, hap and iwi dynamics result in much lengthier visits for Maori MPs than might be the case in non-Maori constituencies.

In 2008, the Maori Party successfully enabled an increase in the resourcing allocated to Maori electorates which addressed the issues outlined by Goulter.

And yet, at the end of 2011, a bizarre move was made to reduce the level of large Maori electorate funding. In the five years since the Goulter Report I have no evidence that there has been any change affecting either the logistical problems or in fact the protocols we live by.

The ability to serve the most marginalised of our whanau has been compromised by this decision to redistribute resources to large general electorates. I do not believe it is fair for either Maori electorate MPs, or more importantly the constituents we represent, that after just three years of receiving equitable resourcing,such a significantchange has occurred.

What do you think? The Maori Party would love to hear from you write me back at tariana.turia@parliament.govt.nz.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Kia ora Tariana
    I met you in Raetihi TePuke Marae at Marian Rihia
    tangi. I grew up between Raetihi and Ohakune.I was
    the first 3rd former’s at the new Ruapehu College.
    My mum was from Putiki and her father Matiaha from
    up the River. Her mum was Hera Chadwick and buried
    at the Urupa in Putiki. I was vaguely acquainted
    with the Turia family? It may have been an older
    brother than your husband? I recently met with Judge
    Jim Rota and his father was a Mathews or Matiaha. He is going to join with me in construction of concrete
    homes. Aotearoa Housing Corp.com (new web under construction)I spent 43 yrs in concrete construction
    and one of my sons in USA 24 yrs and a younger son
    in I.T.He graduated in Auckland University.
    Our Labor force will be:
    Unskilled, just got out of jail, been on drugs,
    little education not only for Maoris but all ethnics
    in NZ.
    I have applied to NZ Govt Funding but may need your
    assistance.
    With a little help from the Govt we could be the
    largest builders in Aotearoa in 2 yrs.
    Please call me for a chat and if needs be I can come
    to you in Wellington.
    Tewwini (Howard) Williams
    Ph: +64-27-565-6966 (anytime)

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