Meka Whaitiri

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Meka Whaitiri

Meka Whaitiri crop.jpg
63rd Minister of Customs
In office
26 October 2017 – 30 August 2018
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Preceded by Tim Macindoe
Succeeded by Kris Faafoi
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti
Assumed office
29 June 2013
Preceded by Parekura Horomia
Personal details
Born (1965-01-11) 11 January 1965 (age 54)
Children 2
Profession CEO

Melissa Heni Mekameka Whaitiri (born 11 January 1965) is a politician of the Labour Party and a member of the New Zealand House of Representatives for the Maori electorate of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti. Having previously worked in senior advisory and management roles, she won the 2013 Ikaroa-Rāwhiti by-election, succeeding Labour's Parekura Horomia, and has gone on to hold the seat in the 2014 and 2017 general elections.

Early life

Whaitiri was born in Manutuke near Gisborne[1] in 1965,[2] and brought up in the Hastings suburb of Whakatu by a whānau of mostly freezing workers. She has affiliation to Rongowhakaata and Ngāti Kahungunu.[3] At Karamu High School, she was head girl.[1]

She first worked at a freezing works herself before obtaining a master's degree in education from Victoria University of Wellington. In both softball and netball, she competed to national level.[3] She was selected by the Silver Ferns as a non-travelling reserve player.[4][5] Her first professional job was for Parekura Horomia, who made her wait eight hours before he saw her, but then hired her immediately for the Department of Labour.[6]

She was a negotiator for Rongowhakaata's treaty settlement. From 2007 to 2009, she was a senior adviser for the Minister of Māori Affairs Office, and thus advised Hon Parekura Horomia while he was the Minister. Since 2009, she has been the chief executive officer of Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi.[7]

Whaitiri's mother, Mei Whaitiri (née Irihapiti Robin), was the model used for the Pania of the Reef statue in Napier in 1954.[8] Whaitiri has two teenage sons.[1][3]

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
2013–2014 50th Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Labour
2014–2017 51st Ikaroa-Rāwhiti 19 Labour
2017–present 52nd Ikaroa-Rāwhiti none Labour

Horomia's death on 29 April 2013 triggered a by-election which was held on 29 June of that year.[9][10] Most political analysts predicted that Labour would hold Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, which since its inception for the 1999 election was held by Horomia, and who had a majority of 6,541 votes (29.1%) at the last election in 2011.[11]

She went on to win the by-election[12] with a majority of 1659 votes [13] and was sworn in on 30 July.[14]

Before the by-election, there was media speculation that Labour Leader David Shearer had been put on notice and a decisive win in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti was regarded as important for his survival.[15] Right-wing political blogger David Farrar called it a "good victory for Labour", and commented that Whaitiri "could be one of the better Labour MPs".[16]

Whaitiri won the 2014 election with 9,753 votes, over television presenter Te Hamua Nikora of the Mana Movement.[2]

With 12,274 votes helping her hold the seat in 2017, Whaitiri returned to Parliament and was appointed Minister of Customs following Labour's formation of a coalition government with New Zealand First and the Greens.[17][18] She also serves as Associate Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Local Government and Crown/Māori Relations.[19][20]

Alongside colleague, Willie Jackson, she is Co-Chair of the Labour Māori Caucus.[citation needed]

On 30 August 2018, Whaitiri had to “stand aside” from her ministerial portfolios as part of an investigation into an allegation that she assaulted a staff member in her ministerial office. Fellow Labour MP Kris Faafoi assumed the role of Minister of Customs while her associate ministerial portfolios were assumed by their lead ministers.[21][22][23]


  1. ^ a b c "Meka Whaitiri". New Zealand Labour Party. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  2. ^ a b Laing, Doug (20 September 2014). "Meka Whaitiri wins Ikaroa-Rawhiti". Hawke's Bay Today. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Labour selects Meka Whaitiri". The New Zealand Herald. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Meka Whaitiri : Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Scoop. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Waatea News Update". Waatea 603 AM. 2 March 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  6. ^ Rutherford, Hamish (1 July 2013). "Successor's first job was for Horomia". The Press. p. A7. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election: Sprint nears end". Hawke's Bay Today. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  8. ^ "Labour's Pania of the Reef". Newshub. 27 April 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Labour MP Parekura Horomia dies". The New Zealand Herald. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  10. ^ Chapman, Kate (8 May 2013). "June by-election for Horomias-seat". Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  11. ^ Small, Vernon (27 May 2013). "Iwi CEO beats broadcaster as seat candidate". Waikato Times. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  12. ^ "Ikaroa-Rawhiti goes to the vote". 29 June 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  13. ^ "Majority drops slightly in final by-election result". Radio New Zealand. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Te Manu Korihi: New Ikaroa-Rawhiti sworn in". Radio New Zealand. 30 July 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  15. ^ Gower, Patrick (27 June 2013). "Shearer put on notice by Labour MPs". TV3 News. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  16. ^ Farrar, David (30 June 2013). "Ikaroa-Rawhiti byelection: a good victory for Labour". National Business Review. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  17. ^ "Who's in? Who's out?". Radio NZ. 20 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  18. ^ "Ministerial List". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  19. ^ "Hon Meka Whaitiri". New Zealand Labour Party. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Hon Mek Whaitiri". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  21. ^ "Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri stands down from all ministerial portfolios over alleged assault on staff member". 1 News. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  22. ^ Hurley, Emma; Lynch, Jenna (30 August 2018). "PM Jacinda Ardern accepts Govt Minister Meka Whaitiri's offer to stand aside". Newshub. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  23. ^ "Labour MP stands down amid assault allegation". Radio New Zealand. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.

External links

  • Labour Party profile
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Parekura Horomia
Member of Parliament for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti
Political offices
Preceded by
Tim Macindoe
Minister of Customs
Succeeded by
Kris Faafoi
Retrieved from ""
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