Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
John Tamihere serves as a New Zealand politician. A member of the governing Labour Party, until 3 November 2004 he served as a Cabinet minister. Tamihere has become one of the more high-profile Maori politicians currently active in New Zealand politics.
Tamihere was born in Auckland as the 10th of 12 children to a Maori father of Ngati Porou, Whakatohea , and Tainui descent, and a mother of Irish and Scottish descent. He gained arts and law degrees from Auckland University, becoming the first person in his family to attend university. After graduating, he became a lawyer, eventually working for the Maori Land Court and Department of Maori Affairs. In 1991 Tamihere became the chief executive of the Waipareira Trust, which provided health and education services to Maori in the Auckland region. He also served as chairmen of the New Zealand Maori Rugby League Board. Even before entering politics, Tamihere had a relatively high profile, having been selected as Person of the Year by the Sunday Star Times , New Zealander of the Year by North and South magazine, and Man of the Year by Metro magazine.
In the 1999 election, Tamihere stood as the Labour Party's candidate for the Hauraki electorate. He won the seat with sixty percent of the vote: his nearest rival won only fifteen percent. Immediately upon entering parliament, he became chairman of the Maori Affairs Select Committee, and also served on the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee. In the 2002 election, Tamihere contested the newly-formed Tamaki Makaurau seat, which he won with seventy-two percent of the vote. He gained the second-highest majority amongst the Maori MPs, exceded only by that of Parekura Horomia, the Minister of Maori Affairs. Tamihere joined to Cabinet in the same year. He served as Minister of Small Business, Minister of Youth Affairs, Minister of Statistics, and Minister for Land Information, as well as functioning as Horomia's deputy as Associate Minister of Maori Affairs.
Tamihere often figures as a perceived "rising star" of the Labour caucus: some commentators expect him to play a prominent role in the party's future, and sometimes even mention his name as that of a potential Prime Minister.
Views and opinions
Tamihere has a fairly high public profile, much of it derived from his outspoken beliefs on a number of issues. He has made a significant impact in Maori politics by campaigning on behalf of "urban Maori", who often have no remaining links to their iwi (tribal structures). According to Tamihere, traditional structures such as iwi do not reflect the reality of modern Maori life, and have proven inadequate for solving today's problems. Tamihere has condemned modern iwi organizations as "new feudal tribal constructs", dominated by an élite group far removed from the majority of Maori. These comments have angered many prominent Maori leaders, but won him considerable popularity with ordinary Maori voters, as well as with a large measure of non-Maori supporters.
Tamihere has also attracted both criticism and praise for his views on Maori self-sufficiency. According to Tamihere, too many Maori "blam[e] others for our failure", and Maori need to "take responsibility for our own actions." This has placed him at odds with Maori politicians such as Willie Jackson, who accuse Tamihere of "victim-blaming". Tamihere, however, claims that the "victim mentality" holds Maori back, and that Maori need to abandoned it if they wish to improve their living standards.
The foreshore and seabed controversy of 2004 - 2005 put considerable strain on the Labour Party's Maori MPs, with many showing dissatisfaction with the party's policy. Two Labour MPs, Tariana Turia and Nanaia Mahuta, chose to vote against Labour's legislation, and Turia elected to leave the party. Tamihere, however, eventually voted in favour of the legislation, and has defended it from its critics. Tamihere has also criticised the new Maori Party established by Turia and her supporters, saying that it will ultimately fail. According to Tamihere, the party's leaders "belong to a relatively wealthy, educated elite", and do not represent ordinary Maori.
On 15 October 2004, Tamihere requested leave from his ministerial portfolios after accusations of dishonest financial dealings made against him. The accusations against Tamihere included: accepting a "golden handshake" from the Waipareira Trust after stating that he would not take one, and failing to pay tax on this payment. Tamihere said that he had "done nothing to bring shame", but portrayed standing down from his ministerial roles during investigation as the "honourable" course. On 22 October, the Waipareira Trust accepted that it, not Tamihere, had the responsibility for tax on any payment, but other allegations relating to the financial management of the Trust persisted. On 3 November Tamihere resigned from his Ministerial portfolios, citing as untenable the retention of his responsibilities during on-going investigations. On 21 December, an official investigation cleared Tamihere of the tax charges, and on 14 March 2005, the Serious Fraud Office cleared him of the charges relating to his stewardship of the Waipareira Trust.
John Tamihere then found himself in more trouble when on 4 April, 2005 Investigate magazine published an interview in which he insulted the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers. "But she’s [Prime Minister Helen Clark] no good with emotions. She goes to pieces. She’ll fold on the emotional side and walk away or not turn up. She knows it’s going to get emotional and it upsets her. We’ve never had a great relationship". Tamihere also made comments regarded as derogatory about other members of the Labour Party — Steve Maharey, who was called "smarmy" and lacking in substance, and Michael Cullen was depicted as cunning and manipulative. The party's homosexual MPs were also criticised.
Tamihere denies that the interview he gave was on the record, a claim disputed by the journalist in question. Helen Clark speculated on on Tamihere's having had a 'liquid lunch', and indicated that a return to cabinet for Tamihere was no longer certain. Tamihere was advised to take leave to consider his position, and began attempting to mend relations with his colleagues.
A week later, however, more comments emerged from the interview. Tamihere was reported as being highly critical of women leaders, saying that they achieved their position through preferential treatment. He also stated that he was "sick and tired of hearing how many Jews got gassed" in the Holocaust, saying that while he found the Holocaust revolting, he believed that repeated mention of it was simply used to make people "feel guilty". He also alleged that Clayton Cosgrove, previously believed to be one of Tamihere's closest allies in the party, had conducted a "nasty" campaign of telephone harrassment against Clark and her husband when Clark deposed Mike Moore as party leader in 1993. These latest revelations were regarded by many as the end of Tamihere's career within the Labour Party, and Clark indicated that she sees no chance of Tamihere being elected to Cabinet again.
At the Labour Party caucus meeting on 12 April, Tamihere attended despite being placed on stress leave by Clark. He apologised for his comments and was censured by the meeting, but was not asked to resign from the party.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details