Senior Māori women head to Waitangi Tribunal over handling of Whānau Ora

Senior Māori women head to Waitangi Tribunal over handling of Whānau Ora
Photo credit: Newshub

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in damage control as five senior Māori women head to the Waitangi Tribunal over its handling of Whānau Ora.

Ardern has extended an olive branch to the group - but it may be too late.

Some of the claimants gathered on Thursday at Rātana Pā to set the agenda for election year.

"The claim was lodged on Monday and there has been quite some reaction," claimant Merepeka Raukawa-Tait told Newshub.

It's rumoured Raukawa-Tait is considering challenging Labour MP Tamati Coffey's Waiariki seat - but she told Newshub she already has "enough work" on her plate.

On Thursday, three claimants walked onto Rātana Pā with the kīngitanga - the mediator of the Ihumātao dispute which has plagued the Government and is nearing a resolution.

Ihumātao and Whānau Ora. are two big Māori issues which could reinvigorate the Māori Party. 

Newshub understands Māori Party hopeful John Tamihere could challenge Peeni Henare in Auckland Māori seat, Tamaki Makaurau.

"We haven't spoken to John formally, and so if John is interested we'll have that discussion," Māori Party president Che Wilson said.

Ardern said Labour takes Māori seats "incredibly seriously".

This is smart politics from the five senior Māori women - they are setting the agenda just as the spotlight shines on Māori issues.

The Government is keen to make it all go away, offering two olive branches - $3 million more for Whānau Ora and a meeting in response to the claimants’ two-month-old letter.

On Friday, the politicians arrive at Rātana Pā - and their stage has been well and truly set.