Tau Henare

Raymond Tau Henare (born 29 September 1960) is a former New Zealand Māori parliamentarian. In representing three different political parties in parliament—New Zealand First, Mauri Pacific and the National Party—Henare served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1993 to 1999 and from 2005 to 2014.

Tau Henare
38th Minister of Māori Affairs
In office
Prime MinisterJim Bolger,
Jenny Shipley
Preceded byJohn Luxton
Succeeded byDover Samuels
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Northern Maori
In office
1993  1996
Preceded byBruce Gregory
Succeeded byconstituency abolished
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Te Tai Tokerau
In office
1996  1999
Preceded bynew constituency
Succeeded byDover Samuels
1st Leader of Mauri Pacific
In office
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for National Party list
In office
17 September 2005  14 August 2014
Personal details
Raymond Tau Henare[1]

(1960-09-29) 29 September 1960
Otara, Auckland, New Zealand
Political partyNew Zealand First (1993–1998)
Mauri Pacific (1998–1999)
National (2005–2014)
Spouse(s)Ngaire Elisabeth Brown
RelationsTaurekareka Henare (great grandfather)
Sir James Henare (great-uncle)
  • Mäori Affairs Committee (chairperson)
  • Transport and Industrial Relations Committee
  • Auckland Governance Legislation Committee
WebsiteTauhenare on Twitter

Early life

Henare was born in Otara, New Zealand, the son of a 37-year railwayman, on 29 September 1960.[2][3] Known by his middle name "Tau," Henare's tribal roots are Ngāpuhi and what he characterises as "all the North".[2] His involvement in politics can be traced to his family's involvement in politics. Henare's great-grandfather, Taurekareka (Tau) Henare,[2] served in Parliament from 1914 to 1938 alongside notable Māori politicians such as Āpirana Ngata, James Carroll and Maui Pomare. Henare's great-uncle was Māori Battalion leader and politician Sir James Henare,[2] who was once considered a candidate to be Governor-General and served as a revered guide and mentor to a young Tau.[3][4] Henare himself was the brother-in-law to New Zealand Māori politician Tuku Morgan through Henare's marriage to the sister of Morgan's wife.[4]

As a young boy growing up in Otara, Henare had a contrasting childhood. On one hand, he was told almost before he could walk that his future would be politics,[2] which at times requires statesman-like skills to deal with others. On the other, Otara was "a place where you learn how to survive," and it required Henare to learn "to be strong, stand up and not take a backward step."[2] Looking back on his 1960s childhood in 1996, Henare summed it up as one that "taught me to be proud of who I am."[2] It also later contributed to what he describes as "youthful exuberance" that lead to a 1980s reputation for being a stirrer and a radical.[2]

In Otara, Henare attended Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate. During Year 11 (Form 5) when he was 16, Henare passed School Certificate, a former New Zealand secondary school qualification for high school students to progress to Year 12.[2] However, Henare was unsuccessful on his New Zealand University Entrance.[5]

After his schooling ended in 1978, Henare worked at a variety of positions, including wool cleaner and wool classer, where he was responsible for separating sheep's wool, organiser for the Northern Clerical Workers' Union under activist and trade unionist Syd Jackson,[6][7] community worker, advise to the Waitakere City Council, and Department of Internal Affairs adviser.[2] During this period, Henare was unemployed for two years.[2] Also, at the age of 25, Henare was arrested for breaking through a police line and laying a wreath for the Maori Battalion during a royal visit on Anzac Day in 1985.[2]

In addition to being influenced by his upbringing and pre-Member of Parliament work, Henare was influenced during his 20s by Maori culture:

"I mostly remember how Maori culture comforted me and distracted me, the exhilaration of rowing a waka down the Waikato River with 100 others, the voluntary work at the local marae. Hitching to hui across the country and picking up the language along the way, meeting relations for the first time, changing our names."[8]

In connection with Winston Peters (himself half Māori) establishing the New Zealand First party in July 1993,[9] Henare changed the focus of his activities to politics for the 6 November 1993 election.

Member of Parliament

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
19931996 44th Northern Maori NZ First
19961998 45th Te Tai Tokerau 2 NZ First
19981999 Changed allegiance to: Mauri Pacific
20052008 48th List 29 National
20082011 49th List 26 National
20112014 50th List 40 National

Henare first won election to Parliament in the 1993 election as the New Zealand First candidate for the Northern Maori electorate,[10] a surprising result given Labour's traditional dominance in the Māori electorates. In defeating incumbent Labour Party member Bruce Gregory, Henare became New Zealand First's third MP, joining Peters in the House. As such, Henare became New Zealand First's deputy leader. His election helped counter the perception that New Zealand First was merely an extension of Peters.

In December 1994, Northern Maori member of parliament Henare supported Māori tribe's paramount chief Sir Hepi Te Heuheu in Heuheu's refusal to attend a meeting with then Prime Minister Jim Bolger for a roundtable discussion on government proposals to settle Maori claims, reasoning that the government's handling of Maori claims indicated a lack of understanding of the gravity of the issues involved and the meeting would be a public relations exercise.[11] Two months later in February 1995, Henare supported a push to have the United Nations oversee a fiscal envelope negotiation process. by which a monetary cap of $1 billion would be placed in a "fiscal envelope" for use in settling all Treaty of Waitangi grievances.[12] Henare felt that United Nations scrutiny would ensure justice in the face of past treaty breaches and that the Government's forceful approach did not create future resentment.[12]

Minister of Maori Affairs

In the 1996 election, conducted under the new MMP electoral system, New Zealand First gained fifteen further MPs, and also made a clean sweep of the five Māori electorates. As deputy leader, Henare was second on New Zealand First's party list behind Peters. He easily won re-election in his electorate, which had been renamed Te Tai Tokerau. When New Zealand First went into coalition with National, allowing a third term of the fourth National government, Henare joined the Cabinet, with his most prominent ministry that of Māori Affairs. He and the four other New Zealand First Māori MPs — Tuku Morgan, Rana Waitai, Tu Wyllie and Tuariki Delamere — became known as the Tight Five, an allusion to the five tight forwards in a rugby union team.

Mauri Pacific

National and New Zealand First initially worked very well together, but relations became more strained after Jenny Shipley ousted Jim Bolger as National leader and Prime Minister in 1997. In August 1998, the coalition started to become unstable, and internal tensions arose within New Zealand First itself. When Shipley sacked Peters from Cabinet on 14 August 1998, Peters pulled New Zealand First out of the coalition. However, Henare and several other New Zealand First MPs left the party to sit as independents. They offered their support to National, allowing the government to maintain a slim majority. It later emerged that before departing, Henare had mounted an unsuccessful challenge to Peters. Later in 1998, he banded together with four other MPs who had departed New Zealand First (including two other members of the Tight Five, Morgan and Waitai), to form a new party, Mauri Pacific, with himself as the new party's leader. Late in the term, he was criticised for refusing to give Trevor Mallard a chance to speak on the use of the Māori language in Parliament, because Mallard wasn't Māori.

In the 1999 election, Henare finished a distant third in his electorate and Mauri Pacific only gained 0.08% of the vote, forcing Mauri Pacific out of Parliament.

National Party

In the 2002 election, after Mauri Pacific's dissolution, Henare stood as a candidate for the National Party. He contested the Te Atatu electorate, and was ranked thirty-fifth on National's list. On election day, Henare finished second in Te Atatu, and National did not win enough seats for Henare to return to Parliament.

In the 2005 election, Henare stood again as a National candidate, again contesting Te Atatu and holding the 29th slot on the party list. He expressed agreement with the controversial Orewa speech on race relations made by National Party leader Don Brash. Henare almost doubled his vote from the 2002 election result but still finished a distant second in Te Atatu. However, National's gains in the election were enough to return him to Parliament as a list MP.

In October 2007, Henare had an altercation with Labour Party MP Trevor Mallard outside the debating chamber in Parliament House.[13] In 2008, Henare contested Te Atatu to come in second and be returned as a list MP. During debate on the Auckland Local Government changes in August 2009, it emerged that Henare had sent an email to his colleagues lobbying for the right to vote against part of the legislation, in particular whether there should be Maori seats on the new Auckland super city Council. In that email, Henare remarked about the role of the National Party's coalition partner and the ACT Party.[14] In response to reaction to the email, Henare made a number of challenging remarks about the co-leader of the Māori Party.[15] In February 2010, Henare's Employment Relations (Workers' Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill was drawn from the member's ballot.[16] The bill passed its first reading. In 2011, Henare contested Te Atatu to come in second and be returned as a list MP.

In March 2012, Henare married Ngaire Brown, his long-term partner, in a Parliament select committee room. The wedding celebrant was fellow MP Chris Auchinvole, Paula Bennett spoke, and Parekura Horomia gave the mihi (formal speech).[17] In addition to his public office, Henare presently is a talkback host on Newstalk ZB, an early childhood education consultant, a trustee on the Kura Kaupapa board and the Rutherford College board, and chairman of Tu Tangata education provider.[18]

In late 2012 Henare was looking to replace Lockwood Smith as Speaker, but dropped his bid when he lost the backing of the Māori Party.[19] The Māori Party said they were not responsible for the failure of his bid, they were simply canvassing whether it was likely he would be appointed Speaker, and that ultimately they believed that Henare did not have the support.[20]

In April 2014, Henare announced his intention to retire from politics at the 2014 general election, influenced by an expected low list placing.[21]

After parliament

Henere appeared in Henderson District Court in December 2014 charged with knowingly breaching suppression orders under the Criminal Procedure Act.[22][23] The charge related to an alleged posting on social media in 2014 of the name of the defendant in the Queenstown suppressed indecency case, when the defendant's identity was subject to a suppression order.[24]

Parliamentary roles

  • Minister for Racing 16 December 1996 – 30 August 1998
  • Associate Minister for Sport, Fitness and Leisure 16 December 1996 – 2 August 1998
  • Minister of Maori Affairs 16 December 1996 – 10 December 1999
  • Associate Minister of Corrections 31 August 1998 – 10 December 1999
  • Associate Minister of Education 31 August 1998 – 10 December 1999
  • Associate Minister of Tertiary Education 21 June 1999 – 10 December 1999
  • Associate Spokesperson, Treaty of Waitangi Issues and Māori Affairs (Treaty Negotiations) 26 October 2005 – 1 December 2006
  • Associate Spokesperson, Education (Early Childhood) 26 October 2005 – 1 December 2006


  1. "New Zealand Parliament – Employment Relations (Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill – In Committee". Hansard. 675: 21104. 7 September 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2012. Ray
  2. Helen Bain (14 December 1996). "Happy in his work. Saturday people. After one term he's been tagged as the next Maori affairs minister". The Dominion Post (Wellington). p. 18.
  3. Anthony Hubbard (12 July 1998). "Brash, in-your-face urban warrior". The Sunday Star-Times. p. 2.
  4. Joanne Black (15 July 1998). "Henare pays price for perceived arrogance". The Dominion Post (Wellington). p. 2.
  5. Helen Bain (18 July 1998). "Tau Nailed. Dumped NZ First deputy leader Tau Henare is unrepentant". The Dominion Post (Wellington). p. 18.
  6. Patrick Gower (25 September 2009). "Bill offers veil of secrecy for votes on strike action: Tau Henare says employees need confidence of anonymity when deciding whether to protest". The New Zealand Herald. p. 4. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  7. "Tributes pour in for 'face of Maori rights': Syd Jackson's commitment to human rights and his people won many friends". The New Zealand Herald. 5 September 2007. p. 9.
  8. "Tau Henare gives a Maori perspective on recessions and how they shape a nation". The New Zealand Herald. 13 April 2009. p. A15. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  9. David Barber (15 September 1993). "NZ set for November poll. Economic recovery under way, says Bolger". The Age. p. 9.
  10. Judith Whelan (13 November 1993). "A new era for NZ dawns with a hard political lesson". The Age. p. 26.
  11. Helen Bain (6 December 1994). "Bolger to meet NZ Maori leaders on Wednesday". Reuters.
  12. Catriona MacLennan (10 February 1995). "Claim deal arrogant and doomed, says Laws". The Dominion Post (Wellington). p. 2.
  13. "Mallard sorry for punching Henare". Television New Zealand. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  14. "National set to block Maori seats". The New Zealand Herald. 24 August 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2009.
  15. "Maori seats spat gets personal". Stuff.co.nz. 25 August 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2009.
  16. "Employment Relations (Workers' Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill". Parliament of New Zealand. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
  17. "Tau-tally devoted: MP's quick 'I do'". Stuff. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  18. "Hon Tau Henare – Biography". National Team. National MP's – NZ National Party. 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  19. "Henare drops Speaker bid". 3 News NZ. 11 December 2012.
  20. "Maori Party defends abandoning Henare". 3 News NZ. 12 December 2012.
  21. Davison, Isaac (8 April 2014). "Tau Henare retirement: 'It's been a hell of a lot of fun'". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  22. 'Henare in court over alleged suppression breach' on 3News website, dated 2 December 2014
  23. Criminal Procedure Act 2011 "211 Offences and penalties: (1) Every person commits an offence who knowingly or recklessly publishes any name, address, occupation, or other information in breach of a suppression order or in breach of any of sections 201, 203, and 204."
  24. 'Ex-MP reveals suppressed name' on stuff.co.nz website, dated 2014-11-17, viewed 1 December 2014; Henare not named in cited article
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Bruce Gregory
Member of Parliament for Northern Maori
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau
Succeeded by
Dover Samuels
Political offices
Preceded by
John Luxton
Minister of Māori Affairs
Succeeded by
Dover Samuels
Party political offices
New political party Deputy leader of New Zealand First
Succeeded by
Peter Brown
Leader of the Mauri Pacific Party
Party disbanded
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