Feb 3, 2012

New Maori Affairs Select Committee

The makeup of the Maori Affairs Select Committee (MASC) was recently announced. The opposition parties love the MASC because National doesn’t have a majority. Of the 12 seats, Labour, the Greens and Mana control six while National holds five. This gives the Maori Party’s Te Ururoa Flavell the casting vote. The members of the committee are:

  • Tau Henare (Chair)
  • Parekura Horomia (Deputy Chair)
  • Jami-Lee Ross
  • Katrina Shanks
  • Louise Upton
  • Nicky Wagner
  • Rino Tirikatene
  • Louisa Wall
  • Metiria Turei
  • Hone Harawira
  • Brendan Horan
  • Te Ururoa Flavell

Shanks, Upton and Wagner are not Maori. That’s fine with me, but, in my opinion, non-Maori are at a disadvantage when it comes to the committees work. The other members come to the committee with knowledge of Maori issues, Maori culture, Maori nuances and so on. Those members will find it easier to engage with Maori, grapple with Maori issues and produce conclusions from a Maori perspective.

No surprise to see Tau Henare as Chair or Parekura Horomia as Deputy. Simon Bridges is a notable omission, then again he now chairs the important Finance and Expenditure Committee and has been careful not to pigeonhole himself as a “Maori MP”, rather an MP of Maori descent. 

I find it interesting that the Green’s have inserted Metiria Turei on to the committee rather than a junior Maori MP like Denise Roche. No surprise to see new MPs like Rino Tirikatene and Brendan Horan on the committee. They’ll cut their teeth on what is, pretty much, a friendly committee for opposition members.

The committee is due to report on their inquiry into the determinants of wellbeing for Maori children. I don’t think this inquiry was really necessary, but it will fit well with the growing narrative around child poverty and inequality. Other than that, there isn’t too much to expect from the committee in the coming months.


  1. Katrina Shanks seems a bizarre choice. Her bewildered performances over things like the 'Skynet' bill suggests she'd have difficulty on any committee, let alone the MASC. Do the Nats really have such a dearth of Maori talent that these choices were forced on them?

  2. That's true. The problem the Nat's have is that their best Maori MPs are in Cabinet. Think Hekia Parata and Paula Bennett. The best Maori MP outside of Cabinet chairs the much more prestigious Finance Committee (Bridges). Remembering too that Georgina Te Heu Heu isn't back.



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