- John Tamihere
John Tamihere (born 1959 [cite web
title=Designing the 21st Century
publisher=Local Government New Zealand
accessdate=2007-11-07] ) is a
New Zealandmedia personality and former politician. Until 3 November 2004he served as a Cabinet minister, in the governing Labour Party.
Tamihere was born in
Aucklandas the 10th of 12 children to a Māori father of Ngāti Porou, Whakatohea, and Tainuidescent, and a mother of Irish and Scottish descent. After attending St Mary's School, Avondaleand St Peter's College, he gained arts and law degrees from University of Auckland, becoming the first person in his family to attend university. After graduating, he became a lawyer, eventually working for the Māori Land Courtand Department of Māori Affairs. In 1991Tamihere became the chief executive of the Waipareira Trust, which provided health and education services to Māori in the Auckland region. He also served as chairmen of the New Zealand Māori 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 & South" magazine, and Man of the Year by "Metro" magazine.
In the 1999 election, Tamihere stood as the Labour Party's candidate for the Māori electorate of Hauraki. 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 Māori 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 Māori MPs, exceeded only by that of
Parekura Horomia, the Minister of Māori 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 Māori Affairs.
Prior to the events mentioned below, Tamihere often figured as a perceived "rising star" of the Labour caucus: some commentators expected him to play a prominent role in the party's future, and sometimes even mentioned 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 Māori 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 Māori 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 Māori leaders, but won him considerable popularity with ordinary Māori voters, as well as with a large measure of non-Māori supporters.
Tamihere has also attracted both criticism and praise for his views on Māori self-sufficiency. According to Tamihere, too many Māori "blam [e] others for our failure", and Māori need to "take responsibility for our own actions." This has placed him at odds with Māori politicians such as
Willie Jackson, who accuse Tamihere of "victim-blaming". Tamihere, however, claims that the "victim mentality" holds Māori back, and that Māori 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 Māori MPs, with many showing dissatisfaction with the party's policy. Two Labour MPs,
Tariana Turiaand 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 Māori Partyestablished 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.
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 taxon 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 NovemberTamihere 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 [cite news
title =The Full Monty - John Tamihere Interview
accessdate=2007-12-20] in which he insulted the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers.About Prime Minister
Helen Clarkhe said "But she’s 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 Mahareywas called "smarmy" and lacking in substance, and Michael Cullenwas 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 Tamihere's having had a 'liquid lunch', [cite web
title = PM Seething Over Tamihere
accessdate = 2007-12-20
date = 2005-04-04
publisher = Newstalk ZB
archiveurl = http://web.archive.org/web/20051118081827/xtramsn.co.nz/news/0,,11981-4254883,00.html
archivedate = 2005-11-18 ] 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 harassment against Clark and her husband when Clark deposed Mike Mooreas 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. The revelation of these comments also ended talk of a potential move to another party, frequently the National Party and also ended attempts by opposition parties in New Zealand to portray Tamihere as a victim of the Labour Party and to use the comments to point out the flaws within the Labour Party.
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.
Tamihere's cats and drink driving
In May 2005, Tamihere was cautioned by the New Zealand SPCA after he abandoned two cats when he moved house. Neighbours complained when the cats had not been cared for after eleven days.
He was convicted for three
drink drivingand other offences between 1978 and 1995, according to the National Business Review[cite web
title=John Tamihere Under Fire Again
In the 2005 election, Tamihere lost his electorate seat to
Pita Sharples, and is therefore no longer a member of parliament. He had previously decided not to seek a list placement, stating that this decision was due to his desire to determine whether he had the "people's mandate."
After his parliamentary election loss, Tamihere sought re-election to the Waipareira Trust. Although he succeeded, and was voted back onto the board by members of the trust, the board itself tried to remove him by changing the governance rules. This resulted in a legal case which Tamihere and the four other newly-elected board-members won. [cite news
title =Court backs Tamihere's election to trust board
work =New Zealand Herald
Life after parliament
Tamihere currently hosts a talkback show on Radio Live with co-host
Willie Jackson. The show has become increasingly popular despite (or perhaps because of) the frequent arguments and insults flung between the two radio presenters.
Tamihere and Jackson also have a New Zealand current affairs debate based TV show, "The world according to Willie and JT". On
22 August 2007, both Tamihere and Jackson announced they were running for mayor, in Waitakere Cityand Manukau Cityrespectively. [cite news
title =Jackson and Tamihere running for mayor
work =New Zealand Herald
accessdate=2007-12-21] Both were unsuccessful. [cite news
title =TV celebrity channelled into votes - for some
work =New Zealand Herald
Tamihere is also a male "agony aunt" in New Zealand's "Sunday News" tabloid.
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20041030024110/http://www.beehive.govt.nz/Biography.cfm?MinisterID=63 Ministerial profile (web.archive.org)]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20050211153942/http://www.ps.parliament.govt.nz/mp142.htm Parliamentary profile (web.archive.org)]
coauthors =Bain, Helen
title =Black & White
publisher =Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd
isbn = 0 7900 0964 1
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