A candidate’s brief self-reflection
There are multiple ways to transform outcomes for Māori. One of those is through political activity, such as seeking to become a Member of Parliament. Earlier this year, I chose that route to follow and ran in the notoriously blue seat of Pakuranga for the Māori Party.
While I remained positive about possibilities given an incumbent of more than 30 years had vacated the seat, I was always realistic about probabilities since a non-National candidate had only ever held the seat once. Additionally, I was a minor party candidate, standing for a party many in the electorate viewed as separatist or exclusively for Māori.
I was curious in this high stakes election whether the community would vote by party preference, or if they would split their votes to improve the chances of National forming the next government by having partnership options. But as expected, the electorate overwhelmingly voted two ticks blue. There was very little vote splitting and National increased its vote share.
I’ll admit my result was crushing and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed about that. The experience was incredibly enriching and educational. I learned things about our community and the diversity of thought and culture that lives in our electorate. I learned about voting behaviours and sadly but unsurprisingly about inherent bias and negative attitudes.
I am proud of my record in holding my own among current and former Ministers and experienced MPs in debates, panels and televised appearances. I smashed my anxiety around public speaking, and fulfilled a goal I had set myself at the start of 2017: to demonstrate the value of introverted leadership. I wanted to show that quiet people have loud minds and strong voices. Moreover, that substance, compassion and rigour outweigh planned lines, repeated spin and the show ponyism too often displayed.
It was eye opening but not off putting. I’m not going to speculate or pontificate about what I think the party should do or provide reflection on what it didn’t do but could have, or what it did do and shouldn’t have and so on. It has an AGM coming up in the New Year, and many committed, experienced, compassionate people and fresh innovative thinkers to take on that mahi to restore and reclaim its place in Parliament.
But for now, I have formally hung up my membership to the Māori Party to focus on transforming outcomes for Māori through my mahi. To grow my kete mātauranga and use the skills I learned on this journey to provide an influential voice for Māori in multiple domains unencumbered by political affiliation. As one chapter ends, a new one begins and it feels strangely liberating.