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April 7, 2008 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Politics: An Interview with Te Ururoa Flavell, Maori Party MP for Wairiki

What did you want to be when you were growing up, and why? I didn’t have too many notions about that, but it was probably inevitable that I would go with the teaching stuff. A small group of us went out to Training college. It was a good idea at the time, cause you got money while you were studying. And at that point, I actually wanted to get into teaching. Teaching was probably who I was going to be, and it just evolved over that time. Did the family have a background in teaching? No. I was just by myself at home, well actually, at boarding school, so it sort of evolved that way.

What has been your most memorable moment as a Member of Parliament so far?
Well most people probably say your first speech – your Maiden speech. One of the ones I do remember was attending Willie Apiata’s function, on the East Coast – That was pretty aweinspiring. I think the thing about that occasion was that it was really significant, just to be there on that occasion was really a highlight.

Other than having a successful election, what other personal or political goals have you set yourself for 2008?
Um. Gingers. Well the main thrust is the election for us, just ‘cause of my position in the party. The main goals I think are to consolidate the learning that we have had, or what I have had for the past 2 years, and to be a little bit more forceful, I think we have gone past the learning stage now, and the goal for me now, I’ve got to be a little bit more upfront, forceful with respect to presenting the issues everyone wants to, and I want to.

If you could change one thing about New Zealand, what would it be, and why?
I think the issues around race relations, that’s one thing I’d like to change. I think there is still a lot of learning to be done, in respect to how we get on with one another, and the education process that we as the Maori Party are trying to do through our speeches. The younger ones today are a lot more informed about the issues, but I still get a little bit down on the fact that race relations are still not at level were we have respect for one another – And understanding our points of view, without getting so sort of bound up in it that we get angry or whatever, so that would probably be one – other than that, we are doing alright.

What do you see yourself doing upon exiting politics?
Um, hoping to have a rest. Hopefully I will be in a position where my involvement in politics will open up other opportunities, I’ve still got some time in me to contribute in various fields, so I’m hoping that if I ever got dumped out, that there will still be a life after politics and that I can make every use of the opportunities that come my way.

Sure. Would you consider a return to teaching?
I wouldn’t mind actually, yeah. I’ve probably been out of it a little too long, but maybe a stint at university, that would be good.

What is the best advice you have ever been given, and who gave it to you?
The padre at our school – said the greatest compliment anyone can ever give you is to trust you.


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