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Auckland, NEW ZEALAND – October 30, 2020: 2:54pm (RNZ PACIFIC): New Zealand’s Green Party first Pasifika MP is ready for the opportunities and the challenges that parliament brings.
Teanau Tuiono (Ngāpuhi from Northland, Atiu in the Cook Islands) is ranked list number eight in his party.

“From the campaign to the MP induction at parliament following the election night, it has been a whirlwind,” Tuiono shared as he reflected on the week that has been.

“Part of the induction was learning about setting yourself up to be in parliament, such as travel routines.

“We also looked at what are the things we want to prioritise as a Green Party and also for the next three years, so a lot of planning, which is important because it sets up the foundation for what we’ll do this term,” he said.

Tuiono’s expertise lie within indigenous knowledge, Māori and Pasifika education and activism work for climate change.

He has lived in Europe, where he worked with the United Nations, focusing on indigenous peoples’ issues. He has worked with NGOs as well as two Ministries of Education, in New Zealand and Solomon Islands, supporting curriculum and resource development in indigenous languages.

Tuiono said his previous work experience will play a pivotal role in how he approaches his time in parliament.

“I’m fully aware that Pasifika people are on the frontlines of climate change and so I will be making sure that we have that perspective present in government because New Zealand should see the Pacific as not just neighbours, but as family.

“Both New Zealand and the countries in the Pacific share historical and cultural connections. We should strengthen those bonds.

“Most of my work has been around working in the intersection of Indigenous peoples’ rights and the environment and I would like to make that present in terms of our policies in parliament, as it’s important to me.”

Tuiono is pleased to see diversity among the MPs selected to lead in parliament, as “it’s really important that there’s representation in positions of authority that reflect our communities.”

“My aspiration is that our MPs honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding document of this country and making sure we always respect mana whenua [the right of a Maori tribe to manage a particular area of land] and tangata whenua [Māori term that literally means “people of the land”].

“It’s really good to take a look around and see people that look like me and that come from similar backgrounds to me,” he said.

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