13 Jul 2013

Flavell selected as Maori Party co-leader

5:21 pm on 13 July 2013

The Maori Party chose Te Ururoa Flavell as its new co-leader at the party's annual meeting in Whakatane on Saturday.

Te Ururoa Flavell.

Te Ururoa Flavell. Photo: RNZ

Dr Pita Sharples formally stepped down as co-leader, along with Pem Bird from the role of president earlier this month.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Flavell fought back tears, as he thanked the party for supporting him. He said he is excited to have the opportunity to lead the party alongside Tariana Turia and he wants to get to work straight away to move the party forward.

He was the only nominee for the position of male co-leader.

Dr Sharples wished Mr Flavell good luck as the new co-leader and said he will provide strong, reliable leadership.

Members also voted in Te Runanga o Ngati Whatua chair Naida Glavish, as their new president.

Ms Glavish said the Maori Party should be proud of what it has achieved so far.

"We are the only indigenous party in a government in the world. We will enhance that."

Bird says party not a spent force

Outgoing Maori Party president Pem Bird earlier said the party is not a spent force.

In a speech to the party's annual meeting in Whakatane, Mr Bird accepted culpability for failing to meet the party's expectations in last month's Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election.

But he insisted the party is still strong and continues to get stronger under new leadership.

Mr Bird said the Maori Party is reaffirming it is neither pro-National or pro-Labour, but pro-Maori. He encouraged the meeting not to believe the perception that the party is on its last legs.

He said the party has been accused of betraying its people and forgetting their welfare in forming a confidence and supply agreement with the National Party, but, he said, that is not the case.

In order to secure any self-determination, Mr Bird said the party needs to be at the table with whoever is in power.

Members cheered when he said the Maori Party did not get it wrong by being at the table with National.