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Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

Photo/Supplied/RNZ/Dom Thomas


Tagata Moana and Tangata Whenua - 'Those whakapapa ties really matter'

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer joins Pacific Mornings after their most successful election result in history

Taualofa Totua
Taualofa Totua
06 November 2023, 2:00pm
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“We had car meets that had the Samoan flag over here and then the Māori flag waving out their windows and I thought, look at this whanau! Look at this!”

Proud grandmother to Māori Samoan mokopuna, Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer told 531pi’s Pacific Mornings she believes the Pacific did show up for her party during their campaign because the whakapapa ties between Tagata Moana and Tangata Whenua “really matter".

“You’ll have to ask them because I’m Tangata Whenua but yes. Our Tagata Moana were there because this is our whakawhanaungatanga. Most of my mokos are Māori Samoan and most of our whanau - we’ve found ourselves back together as whakapapa again.”

Ngarewa-Packer beamed with pride while speaking to Pacific Mornings after her party’s success on Friday.

The results of the special votes were counted and saw Te Pāti Māori secure six seats in Parliament, their most successful election result in history.

Mariomeno Kapa-Kingi and Takutai Moana Kemp will be joining the caucus alongside newcomers Tākuta Ferris and Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke.


On the momentous win: “I think it’s a show of us as Indigenous peoples. We aren’t going to sit back and let someone or someone’s carry on about us as if we are the worst thing to happen.

“We’re stoked. We know we represent a whole lot of grassroots out there that can see themselves. Just hope it gives them faith to not give up even if they are the smallest or different to everyone else.”

Crediting their grassroots methods and grassroots budget for the massive success, Ngarewa-Packer says it’s because of this approach more people come into the campaign and own it.

“We took our people with us.”

Ngarewa-Packer says she hopes Pacific people can trust her party to advocate for their needs.

“I think to myself when we went out to kaupapa for the seabed mining, when we went out to take on some of the misogyny and racism - we were standing side by side!”

Even on the party’s election campaign across the large Māori electorates, specifically in Tokoroa, Ngarewa-Packer says it was Tagata Moana who hosted and ran the kaupapa.

The Te Pāti Māori co-leader who says that it will be a “challenging time ahead for those who are beautifully indigenous”, points out that despite the close connection and unity; it doesn’t mean she or her party have a right to speak for Tagata Moana communities.

“I don’t [have the right to speak]. I hope they [Pacific people] know they can trust Te Pāti Māori, to korero, to tautoko to put their needs first.”

Ngarewa-Packer voiced concerns for the hardworking whanau and rangatahi leaving school early to go to mahi or being late to school because of their mahi; the same folk who were labelled as heroes because of their jobs as frontline workers during the pandemic.

“I don’t think we can ever take a breath from being marginalised.

“We’re not going to take this crap. Or let our rangatahi or mokopuna say that our value or how awesome we are isn’t respected.”

The party aims to hold the incoming government to account while prioritising the 70 per cent of our Māori and Pasifika population who are under the age of 40.

“They’ll create the divide bigger and bigger and worry about the zillionaires that fund them.”