15 Jul 2013

Ancestors to help party face future - Flavell

11:19 am on 15 July 2013

New co-leader of the Maori Party, Te Ururoa Flavell, says the party will overcome any barriers it faces because it has the wisdom of its tipuna, or ancestors.

The Waiariki MP took over from Pita Sharples at the party's annual meeting in Whakatane at the weekend.

Mr Flavell's was the only name in the hat, but the crowd of 300 people at Te Wananga o Awanuiarangi nevertheless burst into applause when the decision was announced.

In his speech, he said it had been a privilege to work with Dr Sharples and co-leader Tariana Turia, and the struggle to defend Maori rights would continue.

Mr Flavell said he was under no illusions about how difficult it was to make a difference in Parliament.

"Everywhere we look there are barriers, difficulties, insults and challenges. But the mighty Maori Party specialises in overcoming them because we have something that no other party has - we have kaupapa tuku iho."

He says the wisdom of their ancestors allows them to confidently face the challenges of the future.

Mr Flavell says he will devote his energy to the 2014 campaign, encouraging kotahitanga, or unity, from his members.

Chair of Ngati Whatua, Naida Glavish, was elected party president, replacing Pem Bird.