Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell from Rotorua has given a passionate speech to his party vowing to "smash" this election and show everyone the party is here to stay.
Mr Flavell gave the speech at the party's official campaign launch and 10th birthday celebrations at Te Papaiouru Marae, Ohinemutu, in Rotorua on last night.
He told the crowd what the party achieved in the last 10 years was amazing, but the next 10 would be even better.
He paid tribute to founding and outgoing leader Tariana Turia, saying they would never stop acknowledging her.
"We started because of you. You were to be the sharp edge of the axe, you were the one who lit the fire, you lifted the hearts of the many, both Maori and Pakeha under the cloak of unity."
He addressed the critics who tried to count the party out or kill them off.
"And let's be clear. The Maori Party is not going anywhere . . . Brace yourself Aotearoa, I repeat, the Maori Party and its supporters are here to stay and we're a force to be reckoned with."
He said party members had been planning and building like "Maori Ninja's operating in stealth mode", designing their party for the future, policies for the future - and we are now ready to accelerate, and take our people with us."
He acknowledged the "fresh" new line-up of candidates standing in September's election.
"I am really excited, because each of our people represents what the Maori Party is all about. They are dynamic, they are fresh, energetic and they are Maori."
After running through the new candidates, he referred to himself.
"And of course, I need no introduction, I will be leading our party standing in Waiariki and I declare again, Waiariki is Maori Party turf."
He said Whanau Ora was the cornerstone of the Maori Party's philosophy and he listed several pledges the Maori Party aimed to achieve.
They included to:
- Lift the minimum wage, in line with the living wage.
- Lift free health care to include children up to 18 years of age
- Establish warrants of fitness for all rental houses, state owned and privately owned
- Get free public transport for all low income whanau, children aged 18 years and under, and students.
- Eradicate family violence and violence against tamariki.
He ended his speech by addressing retiring Ms Turia and Pita Sharples.
"A future without both of you right there in Parliament with me, it's going to be a massive change. It's going to be hard. But together, we have built a party that we can be proud of.
"We have built a new and fresh team - who will take us forward. We have built a fresh new vision for the party moving into the future. I know that the next part of our journey will be safe, because our waka was cast in the right direction, and has been buoyed by safe and steady hands for the last 10 years."
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