Maori Party Founders Say Goodbye

by Desk Editor on Thursday, July 24, 2014 — 6:25 PM

Two major Maori MPs gave there farewell speeches to Parliament today outlining their history, experiences, triumphs and regrets.

Tariana Turiasaid there was no place she felt more at peace than in the Whanganui River. The last 18 years in Parliament had been like a spiritual journey in her home lands.

She had been brought up with strong whanau values and when she came to Parliament as a Labour MP when the party had strong links with Ratana, but this had not been honoured.

Turia spoke warmly of Parekura Horomia and said she still missed him. She said it was Helen Clark who had brought her to Parliament and she would never forget the trust she had shown in her. Turia praised a number of current and past Labour MPs.

Hone Harawira had been her great friend and great foe and it was hard to explain how it was to love the essence of someone and still feel total frustration.

She did not regret leaving the Labour Party over the foreshore and seabed debate, which led to the formation of the Maori Party “it was self-determination in action”.

Turia praised Hekia Parata for her determination that all children should succeed and said Chris Finlayson was the greatest treaty negotiations minister in the country’s history.

She also stood by her decision to work the National party said it had been a respectful and honest relationship with John Key and Bill English. “We are pleased with our achievements… I won’t talk about the disappointments”.

“I leave with a feeling of peace”.

Pita Sharples said he was full of mixed thoughts as he looked back over the last nine years from the foreshore and seabed debate and the formation of the Maori Party through to today.
For its first three years the Maori Party had sat on the crossbenches throwing stones and getting good publicity, but achieving nothing. The decision came to go into Government with National and got a lot of “goodies” for our people. This of course led to a drop in popularity and the Maori Party had received a backlash.

Sharples did not apologise for “sitting at the table” because the party had managed to make gains. His party had stuck by its rules and traditions and people should understand that.

He had been joined at the hip with Tariana Turia for nine years which had been quite an experience.

Rajen Prasad said he was a lucky migrant who received so much over 50 years from New Zealand. Prasad said he was initially denied a visa to New Zealand, but they relented after submissions from the Auckland education sector.

Since then he had trained many people and had been entrusted with many roles such as Race Relations Commission. None of it had prepared him for the life of a politician where he suddenly became in the eyes of many useless and a “bloody politician”.

He said many people did not realise how civil politicians were to each other across the House, despite vigorous policy differences

Darien Fenton said over nearly nine years in Parliament she had found that despite furious debate about political difference, most MPs come here with sincere intent.

Fenton said technology had changed Parliament, “but the extraordinary events that shook the parliament and our country to the core in recent years will always be with me – the shattering Christchurch earthquakes, with the shocking and tragic death toll. For too many, life continues to be a struggle.

“The needless loss of 29 men killed at Pike River Mine will go down in our history as a disgraceful failure of deregulation. There has been no closure or justice for their families – that’s wrong too.”

Many thought she was a “devil beast unionist but my apprenticeship to the labour movement and this parliament was forged in many different experiences, and some very tough jobs.”

Fenton spoke about her battle with addiction and said it was time for Parliament to treat drug use as a medical problem and not a criminal issue and this meant the decriminalistion of cannabis

Earlier the first reading of the Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) Bill was completed on a voice vote and the bill was sent to the Maori Affairs Committee for consideration.

NZ First and the Greens sought but were not granted leave to have the journals of the House amended to show they had wanted to vote against the bill.

Debate on the third reading of the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3) was interrupted when the House moved to the valedictory speeches.
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