How Tamati Coffey blindsided the Maori party

It was deemed by all political pundits, Māori and non-Māori (aside from Morgan Godfery) as Mission Impossible.

There was no way Tamati Coffey could win Waiariki. After all, no one defeats a party leader and minister of the Crown. If only they’d done their research.

As we saw, Te Ururoa Flavell could be beaten: we just needed the right strategy, the right candidate and the Māori Party to come to our party.

After the 2014 result Tamati dusted himself off and put his shoulder back to the grind, focusing on local issues, like the amalgamation of our local tertiary institutes in the BOP, predatory water extraction at Otakiri and of course holding the “friends with benefits” government lead by the National Party to account in his monthly column in our local newspaper.

Neither Tamati nor any individual ever had the power to kill the Māori Party, the voters made their choice based on their own reasons. Some have asked us as Māori how did we feel about the Māori Party not being in parliament. For me, it wasn’t about the Māori Party not being in parliament, it was more about putting someone we believed in, into the seat where his values reflected our own.

We are sad for the Māori Party as we also know what it’s like to lose an election or two and how hard it is to campaign from the outside. But we never bought into the notion that Māori must support Māori Party, because no political party or its supporters has a right to claim our Māoritanga, that’s something that doesn’t belong to a Westminster system.

Supporting Labour doesn’t make us less Māori, it just makes our political focuses different.

Many people who don’t know Tamati will assume his biggest asset is his fame. In reality his biggest asset is his work ethic and dedication. He campaigned for over three years at his own expense, no government pay check, no paid staff, just volunteering his time to his campaign, funding it all himself.

Many would have given up, but giving up isn’t who Tamati is. Waiariki now not only has an amazing young MP, but one with grit and determination second to none, but more than that he has given many people a new lease of hope that things can turn around and that he is the man to get that happening.

Aware that both pressure and the spotlight is on him now, I am sure te iwi Māori will see him the way we have, as a man with great aroha and manaaki for his people, one who will deliver a fresh set of energies to the needs of the Waiariki.

That is indeed how you win in politics.  Election 2020 started today.  You don’t turn up 1 month before the election period and ask people to take an interest.  Tamati was around the region and was highly visible.

It was fairly clear that the Maori party’s future totally depended on Flavell, and as this turns into quite the Achilles heel.  Flavell was correctly distracted with work, while his rival had three years of spare time to embed himself into the electorate.

Tamati has no mana.  He’s not the right man for the job, but he did run a decent campaign.   In the end, the poll didn’t detect it, and the general consensus was that he would come a respectable second.   But politics can be cruel, and a lot of people we haven’t felt deserved to enter parliament are now occupying the seats of power.


– NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.