November 07, 2023
Māori identity blooming in new parliament
More than a quarter of MPs in the 54th parliament will have whakapapa Māori, but a Māori political scientist says how they express that identity may vary depending on their political colouring.
Victoria University Te Herenga Waka associate professor Lara Greaves says the pattern was set by Winston Peters in his maiden speech in 1979, when he described himself as a New Zealander, a Māori and a lawyer and New Zealand as a garden where the diversity of the blooms enriches the view.
“We actually saw (former National Party leader) Simon Bridges mirror that wording in his first speech in Parliament as well. And I think for a lot of Māori in National that is the kind of idea that they adopt. And similarly, if we look at people like Nicole McKay and Karen Chhour within the ACT Party, that’s the same sort of way that they talk about their ethnicity, their culture, their Māoritanga, whatever we want to call it,” she says.
Dr Greaves says it will be interesting to see how the Māori MPs who end up in cabinet will deal with iwi and Māori issues.