Portraits of honourable female Māori MPs unveiled at Mātangireia

By Ripeka Timutimu
  • Wellington

Labour MP Louisa Wall says the unveiling of the portraits of two female MPs in Parliament is long overdue.  Photos of Iriaka Ratana and Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan will now grace the walls of Parliament alongside photos of their male counterparts in a Parliamentary first.

The faces of former male MPs line the walls of Mātangireia.  But now female MPs will be recognised.

When asked was it overdue, Louisa Wall says "Absolutely but whats been heartening is that the Minister has used his authority with the approval of Māori MPs so to Te Ururoa's credit he brough us all together."

Te Ururoa Flavell says, "I asked some MPs to come and have a hui in my office and we sat down put the kaupapa out, we want to put some woman up and yeah fair enough let's do it."

Iriaka Ratana was a Labour MP for 20 years.  Whetu Tirikatene was also a Labour MP for nearly 30 years.  Their descendants attended the special ceremony in their memory.

Kukupa Tirikatene says, "She taught us many things.  I remember her teachings.  They were imperative in keeping us altogether as a family."

Labour MPs Rino Tirikatene and Adrian Rurawhe are direct descendants of Tirikatene and Ratana, and say they have big shoes, or in this case high heels, to fill.

Rurawhe says, "I feel quite privileged that I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, and learnt lots of lessons that she was determined all her grandchildren would learn, and I think that's where I get this thing to work for the people, and not just go straight to the front, you have to do the hard yards first."

It's hoped more former female MPs will get a coveted spot here in Mātangireia, providing a snapshot of the political history of our country.

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