FOR THE FUTURE: Vision New Zealand party leader Hannah Tamaki visited the region’s youngest members, including eight-month-old Ivy Tahuri. Photo supplied

HANNAH Tamaki is hoping to make history as the first wahine Maori to claim the Waiariki electorate seat.

She was in Whakatane on Friday engaging with prospective voters at a meet-and-greet at Cafe 4 U and visiting Te Puna Ora o Mataatua.

Mrs Tamaki, who is the leader of the political party Matakite Aotearoa, otherwise known as Vision New Zealand, is promoting family values and a Kiwi-first approach.

This includes, Kiwi land in Kiwi hands, and whakamana hapu (empowering hapu) through programmes such as ManUp – Tu Tangata, Legacy and programmes for youth.

For many Maori in the area, living off the land has been a way of life for centuries, including the people of Ngai Tuhoe and Te Whanau a Apanui on the East Coast. However, Mrs Tamaki said government policies and legislation had restricted the freedom for many tangata whenua (people of the land).

“Maori only own six percent of the whenua. The Kiwi land in Kiwi hands policy will stop the selling of land, water and natural resources to foreigners.

“We also need to let iwi govern themselves. The Department of Conservation needs to get out of the way and allow Ngai Tuhoe and whanau Maori to hunt on their own land without the need for permits.

“It’s their whenua, and they should be allowed to freely move on it,” she said.

Mrs Tamaki said although she was based in Auckland, she has serviced the Waiariki region for more than 30 years.

“I lived in Rotorua for nine years, and we established our church [Destiny] in Auckland where I’ve been based for 22 years, however, being employed in the Rotorua region, I travel back and forth.

“Our fruit in the Bay of Plenty, including the Whakatane area, speaks for itself. The result speaks in the people, and through the people who have changed their lives.”

Mrs Tamaki said, if successful, she would repeal the abortion legislation decriminalising abortion.

“I became a teenage mother at a young age and had two premature babies. My eldest child was born at 28 weeks, weighing only 2.5 pounds. My second child was born at 34 weeks and she was 4.5 pounds. So, when I see these vulnerable babies being terminated, who can survive, even when they come early, I can’t face that, and I don’t want that.

“I see my precious babies, who the experts said wouldn’t make it, especially the first one, but she fought through it all,” she said.

Mrs Tamaki believes the nation is ready for a motherly figure and wahine toa.

“Maturity and experience is important when it comes to governing a country. It’s more important than having textbook experience.

“I have lived experience and I’m not ashamed of my past.

“It gives me experience and I think being able to relate to people from all walks of life is important, especially if you want to represent people and be in parliament.

“I stand for Matakite Aotearoa (Vision New Zealand) to give people hope. We care for those who are broken and need hope. We want to put hope in your vote.”

Mrs Tamaki said she did not want Vision New Zealand to be known as a Christian party.

“You don’t have to be a Christian to vote for us. There are many people who share the same beliefs and values as us.

“It’s not a Christian party, but it is run by a very strong devout Christian.

She is hoping people on the Maori electoral roll will give her an opportunity.

“Labour has had it’s turn, Maori Party has had it’s turn. Give Vision New Zealand a turn, give me a go. What have you got to lose.”

delilah.whaitiri@thebeacon.co.nz