Te Paati Māori - Our History

Founded in 2004, our Party was born out of bravery, love and a 40,000 strong hikoi (protest march) over the Foreshore and Seabed Act, a piece of legislation passed by the then Labour-led government, which undermined Māori rights.

Our founding Co-Leader, Tariana Turia, was a Labour MP at the time. So opposed to the legislation and blatant disregard for Māori rights, she chose to cross the floor and stand with her people in opposition to the legislation. Her people called on her to leave the Labour Party, and contest her seat (Te Tai Hauāuru) in a by-election, under the banner of a new political party - the Māori Party.

Dame Tariana Turia sought the support of a range of people, including Sir Dr Pita Sharples (founding Co-Leader) Whatarangi Winiata (founding Party President) and others who then called a series of hui, which eventually led to the establishment of the Māori Party.

In July 2004, Dame Tariana Turia was successfully elected in a by-election in Te Tai Hauauru, making her the very first Māori Party Member of Parliament. She was later joined by Sir Pita Sharples (Tamaki Makaurau), Te Ururoa Flavell (Waiariki) and Hone Harawira (Te Tai Tokerau). In 2008, these founding MP’s were joined by Rahui Katene (Te Tai Tonga), giving the Party a 5-member strong presence in Parliament. 

It was also in 2008, that the Māori Party entered a supply and confidence agreement with the National Party. This relationship saw the Māori Party become part of the Government, with Ministerial positions. Upon Tariana and Pita’s retirement, Te Ururoa Flavell (Waiariki), and Marama Fox (List MP) took up the mantle of Co-Leadership and continued the Party’s work in Parliament.

In our time in Government the Māori Party has been proud to have been at the forefront of embedding Whānau Ora, leading a constitutional review, signing the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous people and gaining billions of dollars worth of investment into supporting whānau, Māori organisations, te reo Māori, education, broadcasting, sport and more.

We are proud of the legacy that our Party has left, and will continue to strive for transformational change that empowers our whānau, hapū and iwi.


Founding leaders of the Māori Party were (left to right) president Whatarangi Winiata, and co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples, shown here gathered together in July 2004.