In 2017 the Māori Party was voted out of Parliament – a loss which almost destroyed its former leader, Te Ururoa Flavell.
"It destroyed me and my belief in our people" - Te Ururoa Flavell opens up to Mantangireia presenter Maiki Sherman about that election defeat and the highs and lows of more than a decade with the Māori Party at Parliament.
On the eve of the Foreshore and Seabed hīkoi in 2004 Te Ururoa Flavell stood on the steps of Parliament.
It was a cold night and the sun had long faded.
He was with his future Māori Party MP, Hone Harawira, going over the logistical details for the protest hīkoi the next day.
Looking out from the steps that evening, Flavell recalls seeing two people walking out of Parliament, one being Dame Tariana Turia.
"To see her walk out, I was pretty in awe," he said.
Turia had not long left the Labour Party in protest over the foreshore and seabed debate, remaining in Parliament as an independent MP.
It was a loneliness, he said, that was evident that night.
"I was taken aback," he said. "She's by herself, she's got nobody around her, nobody knows her in this place – or they don't want to know her because of her stand.
"I was sort of moved and motivated by that to think, 'Jeez we've got to look after her and support her on this because she's by herself'."
The next day, tens of thousands of people made their voices heard during the Foreshore and Seabed hīkoi.
From that protest and unity, the Māori Party was born, and Dame Tariana Turia and Sir Pita Sharples led the party into Parliament alongside Te Ururoa Flavell and Hone Harawira.
It would be the start of a 12-year career in Parliament for Flavell.
"Being away from home, being away from partners, from tamariki, it was huge.
"To be truthful ... probably after a year I wanted to go home," he said.
It was a feeling which remained but one he would push aside in order to represent those who put their faith in him.
"I was never ever comfortable in this place if I put my hand on my heart.
"It was just hard. Just emotionally, physically hard, and the funny thing is when I finished here, it was hard to leave," he said.
One of the early challenges for Flavell was the breakdown within the caucus regarding fellow MP Harawira.
As party whip, Flavell laid a complaint against Harawira over his comments which criticised the party and its relationship with National.
"We were the subjects of comments that basically were not mana-enhancing," he said.
The tension, which specifically centred around the Marine and Coastal Area Act, would ultimately lead to Hone Harawira leaving the Māori Party.
"Hone and I went to school together, we sat by a Rotorua lake to try work it out, we tried to get there, it didn't happen, and so we had to part our ways.
"I don't talk about the relationship as being broken, it just was a point in time, but I have huge respect for what he's done for our people," Flavell said.
After nine years in Parliament, succession planning also proved to be a bone of contention between Flavell and Sir Pita Sharples.
With Turia announcing her retirement from politics, the pressure was on for Sharples to do the same. Flavell delivered an ultimatum – hand over the leadership reins or he would walk.
"All I wanted was a decision so I knew, and I could make decisions for myself."
It was a tough call for Sharples who held ministerial portfolios at the time. And while it affected the pair's relationship, it wasn't irreconcilable.
"We have a long history and, come what may, we always reflect back on that history together, with his wife, with his whānau.
"We have that history so it's okay, same with Hone," Flavell said.
Having retained his seat at the 2014 election, Flavell served as Māori Development Minister alongside a National government.
It would be his first and only term as a minister.
At the 2017 election, the Waiariki MP lost his seat and the party vote wasn't enough to keep the Māori Party in Parliament.
"That was really traumatic," he said.
Flavell never saw it coming.
"It destroyed me and my belief in our people. That our people would let us down and after all the work that'd been done, and for what?
Flavell said what was most disappointing was losing the momentum built up over decades.
"We'd lost the movement and I'm not talking about the 12 years of time (in Parliament). I'm talking about all the other stuff that was done before that, that got us to a Māori Party.
"All the effort, what was it worth? What was it for? Zip. So, I was pretty angry."
Fast forward to the 2020 election, and Flavell is proud to see the Māori Party's return to Parliament, with Rawiri Waititi winning the Waiariki electorate.
"I'm just pleased that our people believe again," he said. "The fact the people of Waiariki put Rawiri in, I think, is a huge endorsement.
"He knows what it's about, he has a heart for our people, he has a heart for our language and our culture. He's going to be good."
• Made with the support of NZ On Air