Shearer to return to Ratana
Friday 25 Jan 2013 5:42 a.m.
Labour leader David Shearer
A day after securing the endorsement of a senior Ratana figure, Labour leader David Shearer will take the unusual step of returning to the marae for a second day.
He was one of a number of political leaders - alongside Prime Minister John Key, Greens co-leader Metiria Turei and NZ First leader Winston Peters - who made the pilgrimage to Ratana Pa, near Whanganui, on Thursday, for an annual day of political speeches.
But when Mr Shearer returns on Friday, he'll attend a church service marking the official birthday of Ratana Church founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana alongside church faithful - an event politicians usually choose to skip.
It's a show of the rejuvenation of the relationship between Labour and Ratana, which dates back to 1936, but has strained in recent years over issues like the Foreshore and Seabed legislation, which saw the movement swing its support toward the Maori Party.
On Thursday, during a powhiri to welcome Labour to Ratana Pa, senior Ratana Church spokesman Ruia Aperahama said he is hopeful of a Labour win at the 2014 election - the strongest signal of support Labour has received from Ratana in recent years.
"It would seem the writing is written on the wall, that Labour stands to be the next government," Mr Aperahama said.
"Mr Shearer, I hope that in 12 months' time that you and your government will be successful with a strong coalition that represents the various and varied viewpoints of Maoridom."
Prime Minister John Key gave a strong speech on the marae on Thursday, touting the benefits National governments have delivered for the Ratana people throughout history, including building state houses in the area, along with an insulation programme and Treaty settlements within the last four years.
"They can turn up here at Ratana and tell you they love you, but they didn't love you enough to fix up your 113 houses. They didn't love you enough to do that," he said.
Off the marae, he said he was unfazed by Ratana's renewed ties with Labour, which Mr Shearer has made a priority of his leadership.