National | Harete Hipango

Remind Māori what has been achieved under National - Hipango

National's Te Tai Hauāuru candidate, Harete Hipango, says with two 'waka launched in the Māori electorates' voters can expect to see more.

"I had the opportunity, and took a very proactive stance and pro-opportunity stance to say, we are Māori throughout the motu, throughout the electorates, and that includes the Māori electorates. So the National Party has picked up on that recognition again, through the current leadership and following on from the former leadership of Judith Collins, that it's time, it is overdue."

Leader Christopher Luxon launched her campaign, and also that of Hinurewa te Hau in Tāmaki Makaurau, last week. It confirmed National will contest the Māori electorates for the first time since 2002.

Hipango says it is more than just paying lip service but seeks to remind Māori what has been achieved by the traditionally centre-right party.

"There is a myth out there and a stereotype of the National Party within the general wider Māori communities.

Achievements under National

"So now we have Māori candidates, it is really about just articulating and reiterating what's been achieved for our Māori communities under National governments. Under National governments, and I'll just go through and I'll remind our people, Māori Women's Welfare League, we have Māori wardens, we have Te Matatini. These are investments from National governments. The renaissance and resurgence of Māori language - the reo, kura kaupapa Māori, - education, kōhanga reo. Treaty settlements, of course, and seeing what's happened with the post-Treaty settlement investments."

She says those achievements have plateaued under Labour. She says she has seen many households struggling with the cost of living, adequate housing and tamariki not engaged at school.

"The responsibility we have as National is to put it out there to our people to say this is what has been achieved. And this is what we can do with our Maori communities alongside."

The list MP first entered Parliament in 2017 winning the Whanganui seat before losing to Labour's Stephanie Lewis in 2020. She returned to Parliament in 2021 via the list after Nick Smith resigned.

'Lifetime of service'

Her career in the House hasn't been smooth sailing. National MPs were critical of her, one anonymous MP saying she would need to change her behaviour of "talking outside of the party view." She also appeared at anti-Covid-19 vaccination protests in Whanganui and also asked a member of her staff to edit her Wikipedia page to remove any mention of her controversies.

Her path back to Parliament following this election is also far from smooth. Other confirmed candidates include Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Labour list MP Soraya Peke-Mason, who is also affiliated with the strong Rātana movement synonymous with Te Tai Hauāuru. But, she says, she is up for the challenge.

"I've lived a lifetime of service before coming into parliament. There are many who don't know me, there are many who do know me. And I simply articulate and espouse the values that I was nurtured and raised with in mana motuhake of the old people.

Turia endorsement

"Yes, it is acknowledged that it has been Labour. A big part of that has been the association or relationship of the morehu, the Rātana faith and the church that's there."

Critically, she has received the endorsement of former Labour minister and Māori Party co-founder, Dame Tariana Turia, who worked with Hipango during the 1980s and 1990s in Māori health. The pair also share whakapapa to Pūtiki, near the mouth of the Whanganui River.

"So our whakapapa, our whanaungatanga is shared but so is our level of commitment and service to those communities we've nurtured, been nurtured and nourished by and within. So yes, I am under the banner of National but, importantly, I am of our people and Te Tai Hauāuru.

"And I simply carry that on and my whakaaro and focus is about repurposing and making life better not just on the here and now the present but also our future."

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