The Minister for Whānau Ora, Hon Tariana Turia, has announced that she won’t be standing in the next election. Her decision to retire, made with her own whānau, is based on her belief that both the Māori Party and Whānau Ora are now strong enough to live on without her.
No-one should be indispensable to an organistion, political party, or policy initiative so Minister Turia is to be applauded for her achievements as well as for judging when it’s the right time to step down. It must be difficult to let an initiative go after such a short running time. And yet the positivity of Māori about Whānau Ora, and how it has created a new dialogue of whanau empowerment and transformation, must surely have inspired her assessment of its strength and sustainability.
I’m hopeful that her colleagues have been thinking about succession plans. Who will take her place in the Māori Party and who will journey with Whānau Ora as kaitiaki (caretaker) of whanau hopes and aspirations, safeguarding these within political circles? The mana (status) of Whānau Ora will require a person of equivalent mana. So perhaps a success of Whānau Ora over the next 18 months will be its ability to raise a cohort of strong candidates for the role so that we are spoilt for choice and left confident that Whānau Ora is being passed to a good pair of hands.