Maori Party president Whatarangi Winiata’s plans to retire from the post today appear to have been scuttled after several people within the party asked him to stay on.
Dr Winiata had announced his intention to stand down at today’s annual general meeting in Auckland.
He is two years through his three-year term, but had proposed resigning to allow his successor two years in the position before the next election.
Asked if he had changed his mind, he said he had been approached about it and would stay on if the membership decided it was the best option.
He would wait to hear what the meeting wanted before deciding.
The party’s co-president, retired Maori Land Court judge Heta Kenneth Kingston, was tipped to succeed him.
Dr Winiata has led the party wing of the Maori Party since it was formed in 2004 and having him stay on will help the party’s stability.
The party also has a challenge ahead with its parliamentary leadership. At the 2014 election, Turia will be 70, and Sharples 73. I would expect both will retire at that election.
That means they need to have their successors in place at the 2011 election, and they may struggle to find people of matching profile and mana nationally.
The most high profile current MP is Hone Harawira, but Hone is not seeking leadership and would be an unlikely one. Some say his wife Hilda would be an excellent Leader, but is Parliament ready for two Harawiras?
Te Ururoa Flavell is considered able to potentially step up if he lifts his profile in the next few years. But even if that happens, the Maori Party will still need a new female co-leader and unless they pick up the final two seats off Labour, no way to get them into Parliament in 2011.
Claire Trevett also has a very insightful article on the two current co-leaders and their strengths and weaknesses.