Politics | Te Tai Tonga

Rino Tirikatene, who represented Te Tai Tonga for more than a decade, retires from politics

Tino Tirikatene Photo composite / Te Ao News

Labour MP Rino Tirikatene is retiring from politics, with almost immediate effect, after more than a decade representing Te Tai Tonga.

Tirikatene entered Parliament in 2011, after working as a commercial lawyer, following in the footsteps of his koro, Sir Eruera Tirikatene, and aunt, Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, who had both represented the southern Māori electorate.

Following their lead, Tirikatene decided not to deliver a valedictory speech. Sir Eruera couldn’t deliver a valedictory, having died in office, and his aunt lost the seat at ann election - also removing her ability to formally farewell the House. Tirikatene lost Te Tai Tonga to Te Pāti Māori candidate Tākuta Ferris at October’s election but returned to Parliament as a Labour list MP.

Wanting to bow out without much of a fuss, Tirikatene set his resignation date as this Sunday. He announced it on Friday afternoon.

Soon after Tirikatene’s exit, another of Labour’s most senior Māori MPs, former deputy leader Kelvin Davis, was also set to depart. Davis has set his resignation for Waitangi, and would be delivering his valedictory speech when Parliament resumes next week.

Tirikatene held Te Tai Tonga from 2011 to 2023, and served as minister for courts and export growth, with a focus on Māori business. He also chaired the Māori Affairs select committee.

He said his highlight had been passing local legislation, to ensure Ngāi Tahu representation at the Canterbury Regional Council.

“But the legislation and the model are under threat from the coalition government,” he said.

“I leave Parliament with a warning for the coalition: Te iwi Māori will not roll over. We are not going back in the box. If the coalition unwinds the progress of the last six years, they risk a backlash that will make sure they are a one-term wonder.”

The retirements of Tirikatene and Davis would see former MPs Tracey McClellan and Shannan Halbert return to Parliament on the list. McClellan had been the MP for Banks Peninsula, and Halbert had been MP for Notchcote, as well as one of the younger talents of the Labour Māori caucus.

- Stuff