Politics | Labour Māori MPs

New minister Rino Tirikatene 'delighted' to get into new portfolio roles

Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Hine) has finally been given a chance to shine as part of Labour’s cabinet reshuffle earlier this week.

The former undersecretary for fisheries was sworn in yesterday as a minister outside cabinet, picking up courts and minister of state for trade and export growth portfolios.

Being assigned the portfolios was a humbling, proud and happy moment for Tirikatene, he says, when he spoke of his moment to “crack the ministerial ranks” with teaomā today.

“It’s been 11 years, six of them in opposition, five in government, chairs of secretaries, parliamentary undersecretaries – and now to be a minister in the Hipkins government, I’m delighted.

“I’m well versed in the ropes, so to speak, and I’m just looking forward to getting on with the mahi at hand.”

Tirikatene takes his ministerial roles on with grace.

His early days in the roles have seen him dissect briefings from officials. He’s also looking into courthouses in flood-affected regions of the country to make sure they are able to function, “as well as being particularly attentive to the issues of our Māori people that participate in the court system”.

“I know there’s some great work underway with the judiciary to ensure we have a greater experience for all whānau and people who participate in court processes.”

Tirikatene is one of eight Māori Labour MPs who are part of the reshuffle: Willow-Jean Prime, Peeni Henare, Nanaia Mahuta, Willie Jackson, Kiritapu Allan, Meka Whaitiri and Kelvin Davis.

“We do say we are a Māori battalion and now we’ve definitely swelled the ranks some more in the executive government.

“We are all a team. We are there for Aotearoa, for our people, and to be able to have the privilege of being in government, to work together is wonderful.

“I think that’s why all Māori politicians come to Parliament for.”