Challenges issued at Rātana Pā signals big year ahead

By Maiki Sherman

The attendance of MPs at the Rātana Pā celebrations marks the start of the political year, and with the number of challenges laid down today, it seems there's a big year ahead.

In past years, King Tūheitia and his contingent have been welcomed on after the MPs.

However this year, it was decided that he would be welcomed first so that he and the people of Rātana could hear together what the MPs have to say.

The King Movement laid down the first challenge to MPs.

Rahui Papa says, “Don't speak to them (locals) in the morning, us in the afternoon, and then someone else later on. Have one discussion and let Māori listen together to what these politicians have to say."

They also challenged Gareth Morgan.

“Gareth Morgan, by crikey my friends, this man is a Pākehā coming here to tell us how things should be? Who is he to say such things?” says Papa.

Bill English says, “I think he's a bit out of time. He sounds a bit like Hone Harawira 10 years ago.”

The Greens also had a challenge, speaking on the Treaty of Waitangi.

Metiria Turei says, “Government has never had a review from a Māori point of view where Māori have been involved in what should change about the treaty settlement processes to make it work better for them. It's about time we did that.”

With things running overtime, it meant the locals had their prayer answered with just one welcome for all the MPs.

Andrew Little says, “We have six out of the seven Māori seats. We have a chance today to deliver on that. I've come here to say, I want to make that meaningful.”

Former MP, Dame Tariana Turia, was also in attendance. Despite the seat having been won by the Labour Party, the Māori Party co-leader wasn't conceding.

Te Ururoa Flavell says, “Is there a point to voting for those sitting on the fence, on the cross benches? Or is it better to vote for someone who can actually make an impact on what the government is doing? That's the challenge.”

Certainly a number of challenges were laid down on the marae today with some serious discussions.

No doubt that will only intensify when MPs converge on Waitangi in the coming weeks.