Tariana Turia recognised for services as a Member of Parliament

By Te Ao Māori News

Tariana Turia has been appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s New Years Honours for 2015 for her services as a Member of Parliament.

Turia who initially entered Parliament in 1996 as a list MP for the Labour Party, went on to win the Te Tai Hauāuru seat in 2002, she later went on to co-found the Māori Party.

She became a very formidable presence among Māori in particular on a nationwide scale when she stood in opposition to the Labour Party regarding the Foreshore and Seabed Legislation.

This issue sparked the Hikoi of tens of thousands who descended on Parliament on the 5th of May 2004 expressing opposition to the Bill at the time.

Turia voted against the bill and crossed the floor resigning in May 2004 when she also contested the Te Tai Hauauru seat in a by-election and won. On July 24th that same year she was sworn in as the MP for Te Tai Hauāuru and co-leader of the Māori Party.

Turia has spent 18 years in the Lions den, and has been described as a rose amongst the thorns, and was certainly one of the sharpest MPs around.

It can be said that it was her directness to Helen Clark and her Government over the Foreshore and Seabed Act that paved the way for the establishment of the Māori Party, triggering a new Māori political movement.

She survived three terms with the Māori Party, and throughout the years shouldered huge criticism over dealings with the National Party, which eventually led to a public spat with Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira, and a split in the party's support.

Earlier this year Tariana Turia told Te Kāea Political reporter Maiki Sherman the biggest challenge for her wasn’t the political side of things, but rather, something closer to home.

"The only challenging thing for me in this place has been when I have gone out and I don't have the reo and I have found that to be my greatest weakness"

Among a number of achievements while in Parliament, Turia championed the Whānau Ora approach to social services and between 2008 and 2014 held the Ministerial portfolios for Whānau Ora, Disability Issues, the Community and Voluntary Sector, as well as further Associate Ministerial responsibilities.

After retiring from Parliament earlier this year she returned home to her husband of 51 years, George, and their numerous children and grandchildren.

Turia is a descendant of Ngāti Apa, Ngā Wairiki, Ngā Rauru, Tūwharetoa and Whanganui.

Prior to her departure Tariana Turia sat down and spoke with Maiki Sherman about her time and the memories she made while serving as an MP.