2 Aug 2017

Food for the new chief

4:06 pm on 2 August 2017

Ko te kai a te rangatira he kōrero.

The much used phrase loosly translates as "the food of the chief is talk" but the food of Te Taitokerau's new chief today is muttonbird.

Labour's new deputy leader Kelvin Davis with his two buckets of muttonbird.

Labour's new deputy leader Kelvin Davis with his two buckets of muttonbird. Photo: Supplied

Labour's new deputy leader Kelvin Davis was showing off two sealed buckets of the Māori delicacy, a gift which had been presented by Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene an iwi member of Murihiku in Southland.

Mr Davis said "there's nothing like a couple of buckets of tītī from down Ngāi Tahu way to warm the heart and lift the soul".

Mr Davis received more than 200 texts of support since being announced as deputy leader yesterday.

The Labour Party has raised about $100,000 overnight in donations and 600 extra volunteers want to work for the party.

But it was the muttonbirds that he could not take his mind off.

Muttonbird, or tītī, is a member of the petrel family of seabirds and Rakiura (Stewart Island) Māori have been guaranteed rights to collect them since the signing of the Deed of Cession of Stewart Islands in 1864.

Mr Tirikatene, who gifted the birds, said they were given to rangatira and they were his gift to his new chief.

Mr Davis said he hoped other members of of the Labour caucus could bring other kai to share a hakari or feast.

He said puha or watercress might come from Meka Whaitiri in Te Ikaroa Rawhiti, the kumara could be collected from Ruawai in his electorate, Adrian Rurawhe could provide the rewana bread from the West and the rest of the Māori caucus could bring themselves.

Asked when they might eat the birds, Mr Davis suggested it may be when Pākehā MPs aren't around, because he was unsure whether they could tolerate the smell.

Next week it's expected Mr Davis' roles will be split among the Māori caucus, Treaty of Waitangi negotiations and Māori Development are believed to be up for grabs while it's expected he'll keep his Corrections role.

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