Returning to party roots and generational change were key themes as the Maori Party gathered in Rotorua for its AGM.

It was standing room only at times as party members packed into Toi Ohomai's Tangatarua Marae yesterday to discuss the direction of the party following a devastating election defeat in September.

It was also a chance to move forward, with the election of a new president and co-vice presidents.

After a pohiri to begin proceedings, party co-founder Dame Tariana Turia kicked things off with a speech that both encouraged a return to party values and criticised a lack of positivity and aspiration for Maori under the new Government.

Party members are welcomed onto Toi Ohomai's Tangatarua Marae on Saturday. PHOTO/ DAISY HUDSON
Party members are welcomed onto Toi Ohomai's Tangatarua Marae on Saturday. PHOTO/ DAISY HUDSON

Citing the recent controversy over comments made by Sir Bob Jones about Waitangi Day and the Government's plan to close charter schools, Turia asked "is this really the nirvana we've been promised?".

Yesterday's hui was "very important", she said.

"We've got a big job ahead of us."

Then came the elections for party president and co-vice presidents.

Che Wilson was elected president unopposed, replacing former president Tukoroirangi Morgan, who resigned in December.

Wilson said the party needed to have three priorities - connecting with, and listening to, Maori, reviewing and reflecting, and working out how the party could evolve to make it relevant.

"People are happy, and realistic," he said.

"There's a lot of work to be done."

Current co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell was elected as the male vice-president unopposed.

He told party members he thought it was important to stay on in the party for continuity, and to provide experience.

But he had decided against standing for president because the party needed "to have a fresh face".

"I don't see it being a long term thing."

Flavell is expected to step down from the leadership role once new elections are held, which Turia said would be before the end of August.

Flavell lost his Waiariki seat to Labour's Tamati Coffey in 2017, a defeat which bundled the Maori Party out of Parliament.

Labour won all seven Maori seats.

There were two nominees for the female co-vice president - Kaapua Smith and Amiria Te Whiu.

Smith was successful after delivering a speech that urged reconnection with people and more aspiration for Maori.

"There's been a lot of korero going on about a generational shift in the Maori Party, but the challenge is bringing everyone together as one whanau."

A financial report discussed during the AGM also revealed the decision to announce it was not willing to work with New Zealand First hit the Maori Party in the pocket.

Following the pre-election announcement, $30,000 to $40,000 of promised donations were not given.