Few would begrudge Turia her New Year honours. Instead of sitting around and complaining, she actually got up and did something, which is more than can be said for most politicians.
Former Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has topped the list of politicians in the New Year honours, being made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Dame Tariana was elected to Parliament as a Labour list MP in 1996 and stood down at the September election along with co-leader Pita Sharples.
She was elected in 2002 in Te Tai Hauauru for Labour but quit to set up the Maori Party and in July 2004 won the seat under the Maori Party banner.
Between 2008 and this year, with the Maori Party in a support arrangement with the John Key-led National Government, her ministerial portfolios included Whanau Ora, Disability Issues and the Community and Voluntary Sector.
The Whanau Ora policy, which devolves social policy delivery to communities and whanau and aims to support families rather than individuals, is seen as her proudest legacy.
Before entering politics Turia was chief executive of Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority and worked in Te Puni Kokiri. She was also manager of the Whanganui Regional Development Board Trust.
Turia said the honour was as much for her people as it was for her.
“It’s humbling really because there are so many people out there who do such great work, so to be honoured in this way, for me, is more of an honour for my hapu and iwi.
“The recognition from my people over the last 40 years helped to keep me going and focused on what I had to do.”
The only time I think she seriously slipped up and lost support from non-Maori is when she insisted the Maori Wars were New Zealand’s equivalent of the WWII holocaust. It’s something that’s stuck with me, and I’ve never really been able to square that away as being a reasonable comparison. Luckily, she learned from that and toned down her public rhetoric at least.
Other political recipients include Tony Ryall Read more »