The Maori Party has selected Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and John Tamihere as its new co-leaders, the first time the positions have been filled since soon after the 2017 election.
The party announced the two as co-leaders today after a special general meeting.
Party president Che Wilson said the party wanted to ensure it had leaders to advocate for Maori during the Covid-19 pandemic. He said Ngarewa-Packer was already working with other iwi leaders on the response to the pandemic.
"We support the Government's efforts but delays in Maori-specific pandemic responses and their unprecedented emergency powers are why it is so important we have a voice. Our people need us to constructively hold the Government to account, now more than ever."
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Ngarewa-Packer was selected as the party's candidate for Te Tai Hauauru last year, and Tamihere was selected in Tāmaki Makaurau this year. He is the chief executive of the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency.
The co-leaders come from the same two electorates as the original co-leaders, Dame Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples, who have voiced supported for the pair.Turia said she was confident the duo would return the party to Parliament. Sharples noted he had beaten Tamihere in the electorate in 2004, when Tamihere was with the Labour Party, but now wished him the best in taking the seat.
The party has not had co-leaders since soon after the 2017 election when the Maori Party lost its remaining electorate, Waiariki. Co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox left Parliament and stepped down as a result.