Release: Labour MP Rino Tirikatene retiring from politics

Labour’s spokesperson for Corrections and Land Information Rino Tirikatene will resign from Parliament effective Sunday.

“In my twelve years, I’ve been privileged to serve in roles across Parliament and the Executive. I’ve chaired the Māori Affairs Committee, worked as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary, and served as a Minister. It’s time to reset and pursue new opportunities. I’m looking forward to the next chapter,” Tirikatene said.

“But I take the most pride and satisfaction from having served as the MP for Te Tai Tonga. Our Southern people amaze me. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the selflessness of our whānau who give everything to sustain our marae and communities and nurture the next generations.

“Our electorate underwent, and came through, a series of challenges from natural disasters, the Christchurch mosque attacks, to the Covid-19 pandemic, and each moment was demanding. But there’s no greater reward than assisting our whānau in need or simply providing a supportive word. That is the privilege of serving as an Electorate MP,” said Tirikatene.

“One of my proudest achievements was asserting the strength and independence of the Māori Affairs Committee. I was Select Committee Chair from 2017 to 2020. In that term, our Committee completed an inquiry into health inequities for Māori. This work helped lay the groundwork for an independent agency to protect and promote Māori health, and this eventually took shape in the form of Te Aka Whai Ora - the Māori Health Authority.

“And as Minister, I’m particularly proud of my work to advance New Zealand’s Free Trade Agreements and relationships (CPTPP, RCEP upgrade & PACER Plus) and the recognition of Māori and indigenous trade interests in FTAs.”

“But I reserve my defining legislative achievement for my own people. In 2022 I sponsored the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Act 2022, shepherding it through the House. That Act, drafted and enacted according to the wishes of the Canterbury Regional Council and Ngāi Tahu, reserves two seats on the regional council for tribal representatives. It was and remains a ground-breaking model. But the legislation and the model are under threat from the Coalition Government,” said Tirikatene.

“I leave Parliament with a warning for the Coalition: Te iwi Māori will not roll over. We are not going back in the box. If the Coalition unwinds the progress of the last six years, they risk a backlash that will make sure they are a one-term wonder.”

“I acknowledge the support over the years from my colleagues, my staff and especially my whānau.”

Tirikatene held Te Tai Tonga from 2011 to 2023. His grandfather, Sir Eruera Tirikatene, and his Aunt Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan also held the Southern Māori seat making Rino a third generation MP and Minister.

As Rino Tirikatene is a List MP his resignation will not require a by-election. Tracey McLellan will be sworn into Parliament in the first sitting week of 2024. Shanan Halbert is the next eligible person on the 2023 Labour Party List - he will return to Parliament in February following Kelvin Davis’ resignation late last year.

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