Will the new government reflect the number of Māori in it?

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Fifteen Māori will be in the new government.

That's a high number - but a solely Labour government would mean fewer Māori in power than in the previous Labour Coalition government.

Should Labour decide to govern alone there will be three fewer Māori in government. With NZ First, which had the highest percentage of Māori representation in the 52nd government, gone, Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party will need the Greens to match the same number of Māori this time around.

This week the Green co-leaders went into conversations with Labour with aspirations of being part of the government. After about an hour in conversation they returned to their offices with no comment for media.

Interestingly, the red tide that swept over Parliament means no one has leverage over the Ardern-led government. The point of difference for potential partners, such as the Greens and the Māori Party, is the diversity they bring. This is a long shot but may be the drawcard they need to get a seat at the top table.

Labour's Nanaia Mahuta, with 24 years of experience in Parliament,  is one of the longest-serving MPs in the House. Ardern would have been in high school when Mahuta first entered Parliament in 1996.  She should be looking at moving up on the list and on to new portfolios. Perhaps it should be Oranga Tamariki, which would make her the first Māori minister in that portfolio.

Rino Tirikatene has had 18 years in the big house but still no cabinet roles. Should he be rewarded for his experience and the huge support he gathers from Te Tai Tonga? With his iwi being one of the hardest hit by the impact of Covid-19 on tourism is that where he will fit in the next government?

The 53rd government is likely to be set within the next few weeks.