Politicians head to Rātana - but not Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/news/110111796/-

2019-01-23 16:18:14

Politicians from across Parliament will head to Rātana church today to woo Māori voters and kick off the political year - but not the prime minister.

Jacinda Ardern is attending the Davos World Economic Forum in Europe on Thursday so will not be able to attend the birthday commemorations for the church's founder, Tahupōtiki Wiremu (T W) Rātana - an annual tradition of politicians for years.

This will be the first time Rātana has been held without a prime minister present since 2015 when John Key was also absent to attend the Davos forum.

The Labour Party and the Rātana movement have a strong historic connection, cemented in 1928.

This connection has helped the Labour Party dominate Māori politics, holding all of the Māori seats for most of their history - including all seven current seats.

Fully 18 Labour MPs are travelling to the pa tomorrow, including deputy leader Kelvin Davis, who will deliver a reply to a powhiri but not a speech.

But Rātana welcomes MPs from across the political spectrum and Thursday will see speeches from several MPs.

Deputy prime inister and NZ First leader Winston Peters will give a speech in the prime minister's stead on Thursday morning. NZ First MPs Shane Jones and Jenny Marcroft will also be attending.

National leader Simon Bridges will give a speech in the afternoon, accompanied by a large contingent of National MPs: Paula Bennett, Judith Collins, Brett Hudson, Nuk Korako, Jo Hayes, Harete Hipango, Lawrence Yule, and Dan Bidois.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw will also make a speech, and will be supported by several Green MPs.

ACT leader David Seymour is not travelling to Rātana this year.

Ardern attended a separate 100-year anniversary late last year and the traditional celebrations in January.

The prime minister pledged $3m onwards housing infrastructure for the Rātana Pā community last year, but did not bring along baby Neve - despite the Rātana community's celebration of her pregnancy early in the year.

Issues around water, poverty, and housing are expected to be big topics of discussion on Thursday.

Rātana is the opening act of the political year, soon followed by Waitangi and then each major party's "state of the nation" speeches.

Back to the top ^

Related Articles (30)