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NZ’s youngest MP Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke pays touching tribute to her ancestor Wiremu Katene at Parliament

Grace Tinetali-Fiavaai

Touching moment: 21yo new MP pays tribute to trailblazing ancestor at Parliament

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

New Zealand’s youngest MP elected in 170 years follows in the footsteps of her great, great, great, great grandfather - the country’s first Māori minister in Parliament.

Te Pāti Māori returned to Parliament for the first time since the elections held over the weekend, in which 21-year-old Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke defeated the country’s longest-serving female MP, Nanaia Mahuta, to become Aotearoa’s youngest MP in Hauraki-Waikato.

Mahuta has held the Hauraki-Waikato seat for eight terms and is a senior member of the Labour Party who held multiple portfolios, including Minister of Foreign Affairs.

At Parliament yesterday, Maipi-Clarke shared on social media a photo and heartwarming post revealing her special connection with another political and famous tūpuna, or ancestor: Wiremu Katene.

‘My grandfather is looking after us in this house’

“Hooki mai too mokopuna kia koe. My great x4 grandfather, Wiremu Katene, first Maaori Minister in Parliament. My first stop taaku kaitiaki i roto i teenei whare.”

Loosely translated, she acknowledged her great-great-great-great grandfather and referred to him as her guardian in this house.

Wiremu Katene was a well-respected chief of the Uritaniwha hapū of Aupōuri and of Ngāpuhi.

In 1871, he was elected to represent Northern Māori and was appointed to the Executive Council the next year - making him the first Māori and first indigenous minister to hold office in New Zealand’s Parliament.

Katene also served in the House of Representatives between 1871 and 1875 - and again in 1887. He died in November, 1895.

Wiremu Katene, possibly taken after his election to the Northern Māori seat in Parliament, in 1871. Photo / Alexander Turnbull Library

Five generations later in a very different world but in the very place where New Zealand’s first Māori minister once stood, is his own descendant - Maipi-Clarke, of the Kōhanga generation.

In another social media story posted by Maipi-Clarke was a photo of her ancestor and the words: “It’s in the blood.”

Over the weekend, when she began to realise her victory, an overwhelmed Maipi-Clarke thanked supporters and also acknowledged her political opponent; referring to her as “aunty” Nanaia Mahuta.

She paid tribute to a strong wahine and trailblazer not only for Māori, but for all New Zealanders.

Te Pāti Māori MP for Hauraki-Waikato, Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke. Photo / Supplied

Maipi-Clarke’s significant win came after a sometimes difficult campaign; during which she dealt with a home invasion just over two weeks before the election.

She bravely called out those responsible during an electorate debate, saying: “Don’t be scared. The Kōhanga reo generation are here and we have a huge movement and a huge wave of us coming through.

“I am not scared...I am here to be a light and a māramatanga (understanding / perspective) to us, that we belong in these places.”

Police later said they had looked at claims made by Te Pāti Māori about an alleged break-in at the young candidate’s home.

However, they did not believe it was racially motivated.

The party’s president, John Tamihere, later described the police investigation as a “whitewash” and would take civil action against the trespasser after the election.

Hero image: Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke in front of parliament. Photo / Supplied

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