National Party leader Simon Bridges has told those gathered at Ratana that they should hold his rival Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to account for her claim that she would deliver for Māori.

Speaking at Ratana, this morning Bridges pointed out that Māori - including those in the Te Tai Hauauru electorate where Ratana is based - had voted to hand all the Māori seats back to Labour in 2017.

He said they should now hold Labour and Ardern to account for delivering on what she had promised, before pointing to a ream of statistics such as unemployment and benefit numbers.

The National Party delegation at Ratana. Photo / Bevan Conley
The National Party delegation at Ratana. Photo / Bevan Conley

He said he remembered coming alongside former National Prime Ministers John Key and Bill English, and while they were always welcomed they had also been challenged "and sometimes things were tense."

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Bridges told them they should now put Ardern to the same test.

"Talk is cheap."

Bridges comments come ahead of Ardern's visit to Ratana this afternoon.

He pointed to National's history on Treaty settlements, and developments such as charter schools which some saw as giving Māori more self-determination.

The Ratana brass band at the 2020 celebrations. Photo / Bevan Conley
The Ratana brass band at the 2020 celebrations. Photo / Bevan Conley

He said they should look at Labour's hands to see how hard they had worked.

"They are soft like they have used Palmolive. What have [Labour] done for you, in the year of delivery?"

He joked that he had high ambitions for National's vote at the Ratana Pa booth in 2020 where only one person had voted for National in 2017: "We are going to double it from one to two."

There were laughs and then Bridges added "some will say I am unrealistic".

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Brian Tamaki of Destiny Church at Ratana. Photo / Bevan Conley
Brian Tamaki of Destiny Church at Ratana. Photo / Bevan Conley

Bridges and about 10 other National MPs were welcomed on to Ratana Pa alongside National's former government partners the Māori Party, and political hopeful Hannah Tamaki.

Tamaki arrived with her husband, Bishop Brian Tamaki.

Politics is normally frowned upon at Ratana, but that edict is often ignored by both hosts and visitors - especially in an election year.


The event has become a staple part of the political year, and politicians are invited the day before the birthday of the Ratana Church founder, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

Originally only Labour visited, in acknowledgement of an historic alliance between Ratana and Labour's former Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage.