Maori Party Candidate for Te Tai Hauāuru, Howie Tamati, says becoming a Member of Parliament will be a life-changer as he launched his campaign for the 2017 General Election today at Owae Marae in Waitara.
Mr Tamati will be contesting the Māori Electorate seat of over 32,000 registered Māori voters and encouraged those voters to be active and fight for rangatiratanga.
“I am standing for Parliament for the Māori Party, the only party that truly represents my dreams for whānau, hapū and iwi.”
“Living as Māori, in this country, is still a struggle. For many it’s a fight. We fight to exercise our rangatiratanga. We fight for this country to honour the Treaty that established it.”
“And that's why I am standing for Parliament - to hold this country to account for its past and to work with others, building better futures.”
“I say to the people of Te Tai Hauāuru and across the country don’t just enroll – be aware, be active citizens!”
“Our Rangatiratanga is at stake – ‘Toitū te kupu, toitū te mana, toitū te whenua!’”
Mr Tamati will address four key policy areas this election campaign which will focus on ensuring Māori health and vitality through healthy lifestyles, Treaty partner political representation, kaupapa whānau, and calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the State abuse of children.
Building an international career as an elite sportsman in Rugby League lead Mr Tamati to live by a code of physical strength and building healthy bodies and minds, and he says that living a healthy lifestyle can help improve Māori health statistics.
“It’s about having a quality of life. We all know about the poor Māori health statistics but I believe that having a healthy body and a healthy wairua as well will help us turn those statistics around.”
“It’s in our DNA to be active and physically fit. And as I think about our whanau being active and leading healthier lifestyles I think about our mokopuna. I’m working at being active in my mokopuna's life, and part of me is doing it for them.”
Mr Tamati served five terms as a councilor on the New Plymouth District Council working with former Mayor Andrew Judd in trying to establish a Māori ward in New Plymouth. He says that the Māori ward issue and Māori representation in local and central government is more about honouring the Treaty partnership rather than a matter of ethnicity.
“I want to be very clear, this is about Treaty partner representation, not Māori – that just puts it into a race issue, where every other ethnicity thinks they can barter their fifty cents on the political representation market.”
“This country was founded on the Treaty of Waitangi and we, Māori, are the Treaty Partner.”
Mr Tamati is passionate about the Māori Party’s call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the State abuse of children and hopes to take this kaupapa into any future coalition agreement with the Government.
“I have seen first hand the links between child abuse and the high incarceration rates of our people.”
“For seven years, I chaired Te Ihi Tu, a New Plymouth community-based Trust, that pioneered Kaupapa Maori habilitation programmes for Māori prisoners. We worked with long term recidivist offenders who were wanting to change their behaviours. It was an intensive 13-week programme and it was successful.”
“Calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the State abuse of children elevates this issue to a level of seriousness that it urgently needs.”
“The abuse of our children must stop, and I am committed to doing everything that I can to see that happen.”
Whānau is important to Mr Tamati and along with his wife Aroaro have been actively involved in whānau, hapū and iwi kaupapa across the wider community. Mr Tamati says that the actions of the past have had a damaging impact on whānau and helping whānau rebuild and reconnect was a priority.
“For me, kaupapa whānau is about rebuilding our whānau and our community.”
“For generations, the very fabric of Māori society has been damaged by the effects of historic land confiscations that took - not only almost all our land - it took our livelihood, our authority, our rights, and our well being as well.”
“As a result we have physically, socially and spiritually impoverished whānau and communities.”
“One pathway to building whānau and community, is te reo maori.”
“I am a passionate advocate of te reo Māori. My whānau has been on an intergenerational te reo Māori and tikanga journey.”
“Our whānau aims to lead by example on this kaupapa by promoting te reo Māori as a living language – using it in our homes and in our everyday lives.”
Mr Tamati paid special tribute to the ‘illustrious parliamentarians’ who have previously held the Māori Electorate seat, including Sir Māui Pōmare and Dame Tariana Turia.
“Sir Maui’s courage and tenacity, working tirelessly for our people, alongside my other renowned Ngāti Mutunga tūpuna, Te Rangihiroa, is truly inspiring.”
“That legacy was continued by Dame Tariana Turia and I make special mention of her today also.”
“They are an inspiration to us all. I want to be the one to continue their legacy,” he said.
Mr Tamati will be hosting a series of roadshow hui beginning with a ‘Meet Howie’ event in Palmerston North on Wednesday 26 July 2017. Members of the public are encouraged to attend to meet Mr Tamati and hear what he stands for.
For more information on Mr Tamati’s campaign and to follow his progress, like his Facebook page – facebook.com/HowieTamati