11 Oct 2017

Northern iwi have numbers

4:34 pm on 11 October 2017

Northland Māori have come up trumps post-election with a record nine members from Northland iwi.

No caption

Photo: RNZ

Three new members join six who retained their seats and, once coalition talks are complete, they will know which side of the house they will be sitting on.

Hailing from Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Wai and the Hokianga, New Zealand First's newest MP Jenny Macroft joins her not-so-new colleague Shane Jones from Te Aupouri, Ngāi Takoto and Ngāti Kahu.

Labour welcomes Willow Jean-Prime of Ngāti Hine and Ngāpuhi.

They join Winston Peters, National's Shane Reti, Labour's Peeni Henare, Kelvin Davis, the Green's Marama Davidson and Act's David Seymour.

Clockwise, from top left: Kelvin Davis, Marama Davidson, Peeni Henare, Shane Jones, Willow Jean-Prime, Shane Reti, David Seymour, Jenny Macroft and, centre, Winston Peters.

Clockwise, from top left: Kelvin Davis, Marama Davidson, Peeni Henare, Shane Jones, Willow Jean-Prime, Shane Reti, David Seymour, Jenny Macroft and, centre, Winston Peters. Photo: RNZ

But former Minister of Māori Affairs Dover Samuels said they have to get along before they could create any influence.

"Simply because they come from Te Tai Tokerau Northland it doesn't automatically say they're going to be supporting initiatives collectively to bring down the miserable statistics that have been haunting Te Tai Tokerau for years."

Leading those miserable statistics is the Māori suicide rate in the North and across the country, where Māori youth are three times more likely to commit suicide than non-Māori.

And with suicide linked to deprivation, Northland has the highest unemployment rate. Mr Samuels said that could all change with a new port, rail and a kick start to industries such as forestry.

"Northland could be seen as a model because if you applied the same policies and principles in terms of turning Northland around you could turn any other region in the country around and I think that should be the focus collectively of any members of parliament from Northland and Te Tai Tokerau."

Earlier this year negotiations between Tūhoronuku and Te Kotahitanga fell apart leaving the Ngāpuhi treaty settlement in disarray.

But unionist and commentator Morgan Godfery said the record level of Māori representation comes with a warning.

"Sometimes whakapapa makes things a little bit harder rather than easier but I guess we'll have to wait and see."

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs