Topics: Kawe Kōrero, Politics

National Māori MPs set for bump-up says Bridges

By Kawekōrero Reporters

Members of Parliament with Māori whakapapa are both the leader and deputy leader of the National Party, and their Māori caucus colleagues are set for a bump-up in the new reshuffle.

National Party leader, Simon Bridges of Ngāti Kinohaku and Ngāti Maniapoto told Kawekōrero, "I won't name names because that gets me into trouble prior to, in case we change it and I'm still talking with colleagues about things but I think you'll see Māori represented in important roles and that's the right thing to do."

He says he's looking for a blend of experience, and fresh talent coming through, although not for the sake of it.

"I've got 56 MPs, you'll certainly see Māori in the line-up, it'll be a bit different from what we've had, in terms of the roles I exercise my judgement where they're best placed," says Bridges.

Following Bridges appointment as leader of the opposition party, he endured heavy criticism from the public questioning his Māori whakapapa and admits he was a bit naive as to how much attention his cultural ties would get.

"My immediate whānau has been a bit like 'what? what is this about?', found it a bit hard to understand," says Bridges.

As the first leader of one of the two big New Zealand political parties of Māori whakapapa, he says it's very humbling and has been blessed by a very strong number of texts and emails not just from the wider whānau, but also Ngāti Maniapoto and Tainui.

"It does put a renewed focus for me on being Māori and what that means for me as a politician, as a New Zealander, as an adult."

Bridges made a pledge to ensure that policies of National will be the best they can possibly be for Māori, for New Zealanders.

"I promise you this, we will go into the next election with refreshed policies that I hope will mean Māori New Zealanders have a second look at National and say yep they are trying, they are thinking and they are modernising their party."

He will not consider Māori being compulsory in schools because he believes it's a step too far. Bridges has made efforts in the past to learn te reo Māori and says it's still something he would like do but frankly cannot commit to, but he was willing to make a commitment of another kind.

"What I do promise is my pronunciation, my vocabulary will get better and better over the next couple of years and that's a journey I'm on."

The National Party leader went on to say he will return to his marae Ōpāpure in the near future.