Mana Motuhake

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Mana Motuhake
FounderMatiu Rata
Split fromLabour Party
Merged intoMāori Party
IdeologyMāori rights
National affiliationAlliance
ColorsBlack, red and white

Mana Māori Motuhake was a Māori political party in New Zealand from 1980 to 2005. The name is difficult to translate accurately, but essentially refers to Māori self-rule and self-determinationmana, in this context, can be understood as "authority" or "power", while motuhake can be understood as "independent" or "separate".[1] The purpose of the party was to unify Māori to gain 'political potency'.[2] From 1991 to 2002, the party participated in the left-wing Alliance.


Early years[edit]

Mana Motuhake was formed in 1980 by Matiu Rata, a former Labour Party member of parliament who had served as Minister of Māori Affairs in the third Labour government (1972–1975). Rata had grown increasingly dissatisfied with Labour Party policy. Eventually deciding that Māori needed an independent voice, he announced his intention to resign from Labour on 6 November 1979. He announced that he would promote a movement based on "mana Māori motuhake".[3] At Easter 1980, he launched the Mana Motuhake party,[3] and resigned his seat in Parliament to contest a by-election under its banner. In the resulting Northern Maori by-election of 1980, Rata was defeated by the Labour Party's new candidate, Bruce Gregory.[4]

Mana Motuhake stood candidates in the 1981, 1984, 1987, and 1990 general elections, but was unsuccessful on each occasion.[5]

In 1991 Mana Motuhake formed a new party called the Alliance by joining with three other political parties NewLabour Party, the Green Party, and the Democratic Party.[6] Some in Mana Motuhake considered this move to take away the freedom of the party to speak up for Māori. There was a split and an independent Māori party led by Eva Rickard was founded called Mana Māori.[7]

From the 1990s to deregistration[edit]

Mana Motuhake leader Sandra Lee (pictured circa 1997-8).

In the 1993 elections, a Mana Motuhake candidate, Sandra Lee, was elected to Parliament under the Alliance banner. When Rata retired the following year, Lee-Vercoe became Mana Motuhake's political leader.[8] With the introduction of the MMP electoral system in the 1996 elections, Lee-Vercoe was joined in Parliament by Alamein Kopu. Kopu, however, eventually left the party, founding her own Mana Wahine Te Ira Tangata party. In the 1999 elections, another Mana Motuhake candidate, Willie Jackson, entered Parliament as an Alliance MP. In 2001, Jackson successfully challenged Lee-Vercoe for leadership of the party.[9]

In 2002, after the Alliance split it was led by Laila Harré.[10] Lee-Vercoe, the former leader retired from Parliament in 2002.[11]

In the 2002 elections, the Alliance were defeated, and Mana Motuhake was left without representation in Parliament.[12] Shortly afterwards, it left the Alliance.[13]

Mana Motuhake confirmed its decision to leave the Alliance and will attempt to form a broad-based Māori party before the next election, with advice from Alliance president Matt McCarten. (Audrey Young, New Zealand Herald 13 Oct 2002)[13]

Mana Motuhake was deregistered in 2005.[7]

Election results[edit]

The following table summarises the party's support in general elections:

Election candidates seats won votes percentage
1981 4 0 8,332 0.46%
1984 8 0 5,989 0.31%
1987 7 0 9,789 0.53%
1990 4 0 10,869 0.60%



  1. ^ Simon, Hemopereki (2017). "Te Arewhana Kei Roto i Te Rūma: An Indigenous Neo-Disputatio on Settler Society, Nullifying Te Tiriti, 'Natural Resources' and Our Collective Future in Aotearoa New Zealand". Te Kaharoa. 9 (1).
  2. ^ Hokowhitu, Brendan (2012). "As for these Blankets, Burn Them - Māori and Indigeneity". Huia histories of Māori : ngā tāhuhu kōrero. Danny Keenan. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia. ISBN 978-1-77550-009-4. OCLC 779490407.
  3. ^ a b Hill 2009, p. 179.
  4. ^ Norton 1988, p. 398.
  5. ^ Bargh, Maria (2012). "New Māori Politics 1990s-2000s". Huia histories of Māori : ngā tāhuhu kōrero. Danny Keenan. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia. ISBN 978-1-77550-009-4. OCLC 779490407.
  6. ^ Orsman, Bernard (2 December 1991). "Alliance born with eye on Tamaki win". The New Zealand Herald. p. 1.
  7. ^ a b "Mana Motuhake (Political party)". National Library New Zealand. Retrieved 17 September 2022.
  8. ^ Herbert, Patricia (21 March 1994). "Party leader calls it a day". The New Zealand Herald. p. 5.
  9. ^ "Lee dumped as Mana Motuhake leader". The Press. 4 June 2001. p. 9.
  10. ^ "When friend becomes foe - New Zealand News". NZ Herald. 11 June 2023. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  11. ^ Sullivan, Ann. "Tōrangapū – Māori and political parties - Rātana, Labour and Mana Motuhake". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
  12. ^ "Final results 2002 general election and trends in election outcomes 1990-2002". New Zealand Parliament. 20 June 2023. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  13. ^ a b "Go-it-alone spirit spurs final split from Alliance". NZ Herald. 11 June 2023. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  • Hill, Richard S. (2009). Māori and the State : Crown-Māori relations in New Zealand/Aotearoa, 1950-2000. Wellington: Victoria University Press.
  • Norton, Clifford (1988). New Zealand Parliamentary Election Results 1946–1987: Occasional Publications No 1, Department of Political Science. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington. ISBN 0-475-11200-8.