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2023 election: Hana Maipi-Clarke, 20, to take on Nanaia Mahuta for Hauraki-Waikato seat

Maioha Panapa

20-year-old takes on political challenge to empower young wāhine Māori

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

A 20-year-old Te Pāti Māori candidate says her youth, gender and culture are strengths that can help rangatahi succeed in politics.

Hana Maipi-Clarke has confirmed her Te Pāti Māori candidacy for the Hauraki-Waikato seat in the October election, and will stand against senior Labour minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Mahuta announced last week she had taken herself off Labour’s list and would focus on being re-elected to the seat.

It is a move that could put more pressure on Maipi-Clarke, as Mahuta is expected to campaign strongly for the electorate vote.

In 2020, Mahuta won the seat with a 9000-plus majority from Te Pāti Māori candidate Donna Pokere-Phillips.

Maipi-Clarke’s political motivation goes beyond personal aspirations; she aims to fill a void by representing young wahine Māori.

“There is no voice that represents young wahine Māori at the moment. Yes, there are young people in parliament holding that space, like Chloe [Swarbrick] but she doesn’t share the same experience or whakapapa that a rangatahi Māori has.

“So it wasn’t that I want to become an MP (Member of Parliament).

“I want us to change our thinking around this. Sometimes you just have to do things because you know there is no other voice there to represent your people that represents who you are,” Maipi-Clarke says.

The decision took two months for the young candidate to confirm.

“For me, Te Pāti Māori is the only rōpū that is Māori from the foundations up.

“What’s inspirational for everyone is that Matua Rawiri (Waititi) and Whaea Debbie (Ngārewa-Packer), Te Pāti Māori co-leaders, are upholding the mana of the motu in parliament.

“Yes, other Maori MP are in different parties, but they’re not on the same level as them.”

As a 20-year-old entering a potentially “brutal” parliament, her whanau has concerns.

“My grandparents are mokemoke (apprehensive). They believe in me but they know how brutal that house can be. That’s quite mamae (painful) for me really, because I knew that they were worried for me,” she says.

Hana Maipi-Clarke joining her whānau and community in a kumara harvest. Photo / Supplied

“I’ve got so many amazing tūpuna that have been able to fight the fight so that we [rangatahi] have been able to gain the privileges that they have fought for.

“I am coming here (parliament) as an outcome of their fight. I am not going to say I have all the answers, but I can come with some solutions of how their fight has benefitted me and how future mokopuna will get those as well.”

Taking inspiration from her elders, she intends to set the best example for all her tribal affiliations - Te Tai Tokerau, Waikato, Taranaki, Ngāi Tahu and Ngāpuhi.

“Around the whole campaigning, I don’t want my face to be the face. It’s not the Hana show, it’s not even in some cases about our iwi, it’s truly what I believe is the beginning of the new party of youth who speak our reo (language) but also bring forward the aspirations of our tūpuna (ancestors).

“I think this campaign, or tū or whatever you want to call it, it is underpinned by the foundation and values of the Kiingitanga, which is to unite all tribes and people of the motu (country).”

She believes it is the underpinning of these values and the support of her family that has prepared her for what is to come.

Maipi-Clarke draws strength from her unique qualities as a young woman who is tangata whenua. She wants to challenge the perception that these characteristics are not weaknesses and inspire other rangatahi not to fear Parliament.

“Being young, being a woman, and being indigenous - I don’t wanna sound cheesy but I don’t want rangatahi to think that those are weaknesses.

“I don’t want rangatahi to think going into places like parliament is a scary place.

Parliament shouldn’t be a scary place, it should be a place of collective stories, kōrero, and perspectives that allow people to have their voice in a place that makes a vision that impacts our whole country.”

Hero image: Hana Maipi-Clarke, aged 20, Te Pāti Māori candidate for Waikato-Tainui. This image was taken at the 50th anniversary of Te Petihana Reo Māori in September, 2022. Photo / Supplied

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