If Nats want to win Māori seats, they must first apologise to Māori - former National MP

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Does the National Party have what it takes to win Māori seats in the next election? Former National MP Claudette Hauiti says Yes.

But with the party not having put any candidates forward in the Maori electorates for nearly two decades, it has its work cut out for it.

She says the party’s biggest challenge ahead is undoing a lot of their earlier leaders' work.

“Māori voters remember Don Brash and that Orewa speech and Judith Collins is going to have to apologise on behalf of the National Party for allowing to make that person to make those comments all those years ago”

Although excited by the news that they will be aiming to stand in Māori electorates, she says there is a lot of work ahead of the party if it is serious about winning Māori seats

“Judith Collins has a lot of work to do if she wants to be seen to be genuinely involved and wanting to do good by Māori,” she said

Hauiti, who left Parliament in 2014, says National has delivered a lot of good outcomes that have benefited Māori over the years.

“We got our iwi radio broadcasting out of National with Maurice Williamson, we got Treaty settlements out of Chris Finlayson, Bill English as well too, putea for small farming and agriculture. We got more tauira passing NCEA under Hekia Parata."

In 2018 Rino Tirikatene introduced a private member's bill that sought to entrench the Māori seats but it didn’t gain enough votes. And National didn’t support the bill in its second reading.

In a statement today Tirikatene says he is delighted that National, after opposing the protection of Māori electorate seats for so long in the belief they were obsolete, now seem to have realised their value.

“I will look forward to the future support of the National Party to entrench Māori electorate seats in law to preserve and promote the interests of Māori in our Parliament,” he said.

 The National Party Māori group kahurangi , Tuwhakairiora Williams, says what the party has to do now is get on the road and to meet Māori voters.

"Kia rongo ai te rōpū Nāhinara te reo o tena turu, o tena turu o tera wāhanga pōti Māori, kia mohio ai te rōpū Nāhinara ko tehea te huarahi pai he kawe i era take hei whakatutuki pai. So that the National Party is able to hear the concerns of those electorates and work toward sorting those concerns out.

This morning on Maori Television's Tapatahi, deputy leader Dr Shane Reti confirmed the National Caucus would head to Waitangi this week and he will do the whaikōrero. “'I'm truly humbled and honoured to do that, and I’ve been doing some practising as well”.