One Question Quiz
Design: Tina Tiller.
Design: Tina Tiller.

ĀteaDecember 15, 2023

The new Te Pāti Māori MPs’ maiden speeches in 10 quotes

Design: Tina Tiller.
Design: Tina Tiller.

What did Hana Maipi-Clarke, Mariameno Kapa-Kingi, Tākuta Ferris and Takutai Karsh Kemp say in their introductory addresses to parliament?

Maiden speeches allow new MPs to set the tone for what they believe in and will fight for. Last week, James Meager’s monologue made waves by telling the left they don’t have a monopoly on Māori, workers or the poor. While their whaikōrero hasn’t gained as much public attention as Meager’s, the new Te Pāti Māori MPs provided intriguing insights in their introductory speeches – but most New Zealanders won’t read political transcripts or watch Parliament TV to find out what Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke, Mariameno Kapa-Kingi, Tākuta Ferris and Takutai Tarsh Kemp said. If you’re of that disposition, below are the Te Pāti Māori speeches (about an hour of listening in total) boiled down to 10 quotes.

Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke, Hauraki-Waikato MP

1.”We are here. We are sailing. We are navigating, just like our ancestors once did, in the biggest ocean in the world, Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa – even though some others aren’t even jumping on the Waka Kotahi.”

Maipi-Clarke used her introductory remarks to make a dig at the new government over its te reo Māori stance – including changing the name of our national transport provider from “Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency” to “New Zealand Transport Agency Waka Kotahi”. The new Hauraki-Waikato MP’s play on words was received with raucous laughter. 

2. “At 21 years old, I can definitely say this was not the plan. I was perfectly fine growing my kūmara and learning maramataka, but this House kept tampering with things they shouldn’t be touching, and that’s why I left the māra to come here.”

Being elected at 21 makes Maipi-Clarke our nation’s second-youngest MP ever. Before politics, she helped run a māra kai in her hometown, Raahui Pookeka, and while still in school Maipi-Clarke published a book on the maramataka. 

Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke at her local māra kai. (Photo: Supplied; additional design by Tina Tiller)

3. “I was given some advice before making it into parliament, to not take anything personally, or it’ll eat you up. Well, I can’t help but take everything personally that has been said in this chamber. In only a couple of weeks, in only 14 days, this government has attacked my whole world from every corner. Health, taiao, wai, whenua, natural resources, Māori wards, reo, tamariki, and the right of me and you to be in this country under Te Tiriti. How can I not take anything personally when it feels like these policies were made about me?”

Enough said.

Read Maipi-Clarke’s full maiden speech transcript here, or watch the recording here

Mariameno Kapa-Kingi, Te Tai Tokerau MP

4. “Here I am as the first woman to take the Te Tai Tokerau seat.” 

Te Pāti Māori made history multiple times this year. Alongside Maipi-Clarke becoming the second-youngest parliamentarian ever, Te Tai Tokerau representative Kapa-Kingi is the first wahine to win the northern Māori seat. Twenty tāne have won Te Tai Tokerau and its predecessor, Northern Māori. Among them are Matiu Rata, Kapa-Kingi’s tupuna, and Wi/Wiremu Katene, Maipi-Clarke’s tupuna. 

5. “Being of service is something I love to do, and I have become good at it. And to me, that is what rangatiratanga means; it is not the pursuit of status but instead the pursuit of the tea towel at the marae. It is about showing up when required for your people and doing your bit for the kaupapa – whatever it might look like. There is rangatiratanga in everything, from diving for kina and kōura or putting out the net for kanae to feed the people at the hui, to political action for our rights. I encourage us all to find our lane e te iwi, and I am confident I have found mine here.”

Kapa-Kingi’s definition of rangatiratanga comes from her more than 30 years of experience working in iwi social and health services, including as the former chief executive for the post-settlement governance entity of her people Te Aupōuri.

Mariameno Kapa-Kingi.
Mariameno Kapa-Kingi. (Photo: Facebook)

Read Kapa-Kingi’s full maiden speech transcript here, or watch the recording here

Tākuta Ferris, Te Tai Tonga MP

6. “I am here today to clarify for you and to declare to you that I am the sovereign. And that as I look at my own tamariki, I know that they are the sovereign. And as I look at my parents and all of my kaumātua gathered here, I know that they are the sovereign. For the Māori people are a sovereign people, and we have never ceded our sovereignty, we have never abdicated our sovereign authority, and we have never ever left this land.”

During his opening speech, Ferris, a former educator, gave parliament a history lesson about He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which he says affirmed, not ceded, tino rangatiratanga and mana motuhake. His whaikōrero, coupled with his refusal to utter the oath as it was written when being sworn in, proves he is going hard on his party’s kaupapa from day one. 

7. “To my fellow MPs: if you are unaware of what I speak of, then I would say you are underprepared – under-equipped – for your role as an MP.”

Ferris said this regarding He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, insinuating that some of his fellow MPs are uneducated about our country’s constitutional foundation and history. 

Tākuta Ferris giving his maiden speech in parliament wearing a hei tiki, cloak and feather earring.
Tākuta Ferris giving his maiden speech in parliament wearing a hei tiki, cloak and feather earring. (Screenshot: Parliament TV On Demand)

8. “If you think I’m a lot to handle, wait till you get a load of your kids or your grandkids.”

Research suggests younger New Zealanders, Māori and tauiwi alike, are more accepting of Te Tiriti o Waitangi having a prominent position in our nation. As Max Rashbrooke put it, “In the long run, New Zealand appears to be getting less racist.” Ferris and his colleagues hope Rashbrooke’s prediction proves true as they try to build a voter base not only of Māori but also of young, allied tauiwi. They call these allies “gen T/generation Tiriti”, referencing tāngata Tiriti

Read Ferris’ full maiden speech transcript here, or watch the recording here

Takutai Tarsh Kemp, Tāmaki Makaurau MP

9. “Today, from the removal of bilingual signage on our national roads to rearranging the names of government agencies, the immediate actions of this coalition signals a strong reluctance to treasure our national language and taonga tuku iho. The potential impact this government can have on a whole generation saddens me but also provides the drive and determination to show up for our mokopuna and hold steadfast in the face of adversity. I look forward to being an unapologetic voice in this whare as we face this adversity. This is our new reality, and we will not be silent bystanders.”

In her maiden speech, Kemp summarised the arguments put forth by many Māori in response to new government policies. Tāngata whenua across the motu, including Kemp’s Te Pāti Māori, have used the Luxon administration’s policy as a call to action.

Takutai Tarsh Kemp.
Takutai Tarsh Kemp (Photo: Facebook)

10. “I mihi to my whanaunga Tama Potaka – our whānau are watching us.”

When you read that line, it may seem harmless, but when you listen to Kemp’s delivery, it sounds a lot like a wero. Potaka is one of about half a dozen Māori in the governing National Party out of their 48 MPs. As the newly minted minister for Māori development and Crown-Māori relations, Potaka will come under intense scrutiny from tāngata whenua over the next three years as his party and its coalition partners enact their policy programme.

Read Kemp’s full maiden speech transcript here, or watch the recording here

This is Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ On Air.

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