Voting for Harete

Harete Hipango, running for Whanganui MP this year

Ms Harete Hipango has been selected to run for National in this year’s elections, due to be held in September. Harete will be contesting the General Seat of Whanganui. Harete is Māori, from Whanganui, and is a prominent local barrister and solicitor. Harete is married to Dean, and they have three grown children.

Running for Parliament

Māori have had an interesting history in New Zealand, of running for General Seats. Normally, Māori have been nominated for the Māori seats, which were established as special seats in 1867.

In fact, one of the first Māori MPs to be elected to the national Parliament in 1867 was Te Rangi Paetahi Metekingi, also from Whanganui.

The Beehive, NZ's House of Parliament

Māori did not get the vote until the New Zealand Wars were substantially over; and, for Māori, they had been lost. Te  Rangi Paetahi won the seat of Western Māori, taking his place in the House in 1868, bringing vast experience of Māori lived realities to Parliament.

Te Rangi Paetahi Mete Kingi, of Whanganui, one of the first Māori to make it to Parliament, in 1867.Winning a General Seat

However, the first Māori to be elected to a General Seat was James Carroll, elected to the General Seat of Waiapu in 1893. Carroll held this seat until 1919, serving his East Coast constituents – Māori and Pākehā – for over 25 years.

James Carroll’s subsequent career as Parliamentarian was outstanding, especially his tenure as Native Minister from 1899 to 1912, when the Liberals went out of office. One of Carroll’s protégé’s, Apirana Ngata, would go on to great things, and generally eclipse our memories of James Carroll and his many achievements.

Sir James Carroll, from Gisborne, who served a MHR for the General Seat of Waiapu / Gisborne for over 25 years, from 1893 to 1919.

However, he remains a much revered figure in Māori and Pākeha political circles. (Danny is currently writing a political biography of James Carroll, due to be published in early 2018). Thereafter, despite the considerable inherent challenges, Māori have occupied General Seats with enormous success.

More recent Māori MPs in General Seats that spring to mind are Ben Couch (National, Wairarapa 1975-1984), Georgina Beyer (Labour, Wairarapa/List, 1999-2007) and of course Winston Peters (National/New Zealand First, Tauranga/List/Northland, 1996 – present).

It’s an interesting history, Māori political representation in General Seats, as an important part of the complex political fabric of our country. Perhaps a book, one day.