May 31, 2015
Maori Party welcomes recognition of founding co leader Hon Dr Pita Sharples
Maori Party Press Release
01 June 2015
The Maori Party welcomes the high recognition bestowed upon one of the party’s founding co-leader’s Hon Dr Pita Sharples (Ngati Kahungunu, Ngai te Kikiri o te Rangi, Ngati Pahauwera).
Dr Sharples has been appointed a Knight Companion in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his services as a Member of Parliament and to Maori.
Pita has made an extraordinary contribution to Maori development over the last fifty years, from establishing this country’s first Maori language immersion primary school in Auckland (Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Hoani Waititi) to helping establish this country’s only indigenous political party in Parliament.
“The Maori Party were incredibly lucky to have a founding co-leader with his vision and utter belief in the power of Maori culture and knowledge to transform people’s lives,” says Maori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.
Dr Sharples became a Minister for Maori Affairs, Associate Minister for Education and Associate Minister for Corrections in 2008, four years after the Maori Party was formed. His long list of political achievements include establishing the Maori Economic Taskforce which wrote the Maori Economic Strategy: He Kai Kei Aku Ringa that continues to guide the Crown in its support of the rapidly growing Maori economy; initiating the Maori and Pasifika Trade Training programme that has been highly successful in lifting educational success and employment prospects for young Maori and Pasifika peoples; reviewing the Maori Language Strategy and introducing the Te Reo Maori Bill last year that gives whanau, hapu and iwi greater control of the Maori Language Strategy.
He also launched Tataiako which encourages secondary school teachers to work with local hapu and iwi to teach students about local history and he introduced more Maori cultural programmes to support the rehabilitation of Maori prisoners.
Dr Sharples often says that leading the campaign for New Zealand to sign up to the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2010 was his political highlight.
“The UNDRIP affirms our Treaty of Waitangi rights to maintain our own language and culture as well as our rights to self-determination or tino rangatiratanga. Both founding co-leaders, Papa Pita and Whaea Tariana, have left a massive legacy for all of us to benefit from. They challenged the status quo and introduced some watershed initiatives that will continue to shape us as a nation for years to come”, says Maori Party Co-leader Marama Fox.
Mrs Fox says Papa Pita has always been a people’s person” and this honour will be celebrated by his whanau and community in West Auckland, his hapu in Takapau, Hawkes Bay and amongst his Ngati Kahungunu relations.
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