Case Study: Te Pāti Māori, Aoterea New Zealand

Te Pāti Māori fights for the rights of the indigenous community of New Zealand and advocates for socially progressive, left-wing, and green policy. The party’s creation was a direct response to the Foreshore and Seabed Act (2004) which vested the title of the foreshore and seabed of New Zealand to the Crown.


Historically, the Labour Party enjoyed substantial Māori support as a party seen to berepresenting Māori interests. The Party had to convince the Māori that an independent Māori party has more influence than Māori representation in the Labour Party. Bargh (2007) put it aptly when she made the distinction between New Zealand politics being ‘issue-based, and Māori politics, being iwi [tribe], hapu [sub-tribe], and marae [village plaza] based’ (Bargh, 2007, p.22) Tamihere described the immense challenges that the new party would have to overcome in order to establish and institutionalize itself in ‘the fractured and fractious world of Māori politics’ (Tamihere, 2003, p. 5) (Schoenberger-Orgad and Toledano, 2011).Furthermore, tribal affiliations were a significant hurdle in its aim of appearing to be a party representing the entire Māori community and voice Māori concerns in a unified voice.


The party adopted a model of co-leadership for its executive branch where the position of the party leader is shared between two people, one female and one male. The party also tries to arrive at decisions with consensus.


This has enabled the party to be representative of different viewpoints and collaborate on decisions. The party had nearly 17,000 within a year of its existence. In the 2005 and 2008general elections, it won four and five of the seven Māori electorates respectively and increasedits party vote from 48,263 to 55,980 votes. In the 2023 election, it won six out of the seven electorate seats. Having co-leaders has also helped the party respond to crises by adapting, as was the case when the Mana Party was formed, and the Māori Party struck a deal with them.
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