By Ward Kamo

The breathless waiting for a decision on who would be the new leader of the National Party is over.

We have a winner and it's the West Auckland boy in Tauranga. Obviously congratulations and all those sorts of things.

For the next few days we'll have in-depth analysis from various commentators as they sort through the meaning of Simon Bridges' appointment.


We'll be told he can or can't win the next election; that Jacinda Adern should sleep easy in her bed or not; that National should rejuvenate and throw out the old guard or keep them; and so on. So I'm not going to comment on that.

Rather I want to acknowledge a remarkable change to the make up of our Parliament that Simon Bridges' appointment and Paula Bennett's reappointment signify.

And that is six out of the nine political party leaders are of Maori descent. David Seymour, the Act leader, is of Ngati Rehia on his mother's side.

Because, hidden among the news today, was the appointment of Fletcher Tabuteau, he of Te Arawa waka decent, as deputy leader of New Zealand First.

Three Maori appointments in one day.

And it may soon be seven if Marama Davidson picks up the co-leader for the Greens.

Stop and think about that.

More than two-thirds of our leaders are Maori, and that may increase to over three-quarters.


For me this is getting close to Barrack Obama's election as the 44th President of the USA.

His was a watershed moment in world history.

A black man was elected by a predominantly white electorate to run the biggest economy and most powerful country in the world.

I can't overstate what this meant to countless brown and black-skinned people in the world. The symbolism was immense.

Well, we are now in our own NZ watershed moment. We have Maori in positions of power as of merit.

From Kelvin Davis within the Labour Government, Winston Peters of NZ First, to Simon Bridges of National, our political world is changing.

And the beauty is these leaders are all infinitely electable in their own right.

Not one of these leaders is there as some sort of nod to PC culture.

They are not there as part of the "Maori quota". No, these leaders are there because their parties back them to win your vote.

Unfortunately there is going to be a period where some will attempt to question "the Maoriness" of these leaders. Winston Peters has already run that gauntlet and Bridges better get his running shoes on.

Except that Bridges should just not run that race.

It's just insulting for that question to even be raised. As we say in Maori – his whakapapa is his whakapapa and no one can question that.

And that's my point.

To be Maori is to have a whakapapa and a right to exercise that if it is your wish. You are not less Maori if you don't go to the marae, if you don't speak te reo, if you don't fit "what a Maori is".

Your heritage is your heritage. All the leaders of Maori decent in P[Parliament have acknowledged their Maori whakapapa and it's a beautiful thing.

But it gets better. When a Maori kid going through a sub-decile 5 school, whose reo might be non-existent and who is constantly told "the world is against you", looks at a Bridges or Peters or Davis, they will see themselves reflected back.

They will see their skin colour up on the biggest stage. And these kids might just realise they do have a chance despite what some people keep whispering in their ear.

As the great Dr King said: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

I have five children who are brown skinned and I have the same dream.

- Ward Kamo has been a longtime presenter and panellist on Maori Television. He has worked in management consulting across a broad spectrum of sectors including iwi, forestry, public, insurance, tertiary, and electricity.